5 things you should know about flying termites

Termites invade our homes both during dry seasons and rainy seasons! Unfortunately, our country – Indonesia, has optimal weather conditions that make it easy for termites to be active all year long.

After all, why should you worry about flying termites?

If you see flying termites around or inside your home, it really should act as a warning sign for 2 potential threats:

  • You may already have an existing termite problem, or
  • Your home may be at risk of potential termite infestation

The actual swarmers themselves do not cause damage. It is their offspring, which have the power to damage your property once they land back on solid ground and search for a suitable location to start a new colony. If they are successful within two years they can begin causing significant damage to your home.


  1. Do termites fly?
  2. Why do termites swarm?
  3. When do termites come out?
  4. What do flying termites look like?
  5. How to keep flying termites away?

1. Do termites fly?

Yes, they can, but not all of them can fly. Termites don’t fall into the flying insect category like wasps and/or mosquitoes do as only a small set of termites can fly, and only do so for a short period before losing their wings.

A termite colony is split into groups known as castes. Each caste has a particular role in the colony. The 4 castes of a termite colony are:

  • Termite king & queen
  • Workers
  • Soldiers
  • Alates / flying termites / winged termites (also known as laron by Indonesians)

Out of the termite castes, it is only the alates that can fly, being the only ones equipped with wings. These are the only termites that are sexually developed and are the future kings and queens of the next season’s termite colonies. The flying patterns and habits of termites are known as swarms.

2. Why do termites swarm?

Image of flying termites around a lamp
Image of flying termites around a lamp

Termites swarm to breed and start new colonies and are the beginning of the termite life cycle.

During this period the sexually developed male and female winged termites leave their nests and take flight. This is often referred to as nuptial flight and is also common and practiced by other insects such as ants.

After leaving their nest, the winged termites will congregate in the air (swarms) and mate with termites of the same species from other colonies. After they have successfully mated the termites will land, shed their wings, and start the process of creating a new colony.

3. When do flying termites come out?

Flying termites are attracted to light. We’ve all seen this very often in everyday life – after a rain shower, we find that a group of flying insects start to swarm closer to sources of light like street lamps or your home’s fluorescent lights.

After a couple of minutes, this group of flying insects have discarded their wings and start to crawl without their wings around on the floor for an unspecified time before they eventually die.

While it’s not easy to spot if you have termites at home, flying termites are one of the clearest signs of a termite problem and they could mean trouble to you and your home! When winged termites emerge from the nest to take flight, all of a sudden, you are presented with a very obvious, and not at all subtle, sign of termites.

4. What do flying termites look like?

Flying termites differ in appearance from other flying insects and can be identified by examining them closely.

  • Flying termites appear in a range of colours depending on the species.
  • Generally, flying termites appear in the same beige/tan colour as the other termite castes.
  • They have two antennae which are often straight with a slight curve and have two sets of wings which are equal in length and white and translucent in colour with a veiny appearance.
Alates or flying termites image close up
Alates or flying termites image close up

Termites, in general, can be defined by their body shape. Both flying termites and wingless termites have a thick body made up of one part. Termites do not have a constriction between their thorax and abdomen like ants do.

Flying termites vs. flying ants

Many people often have mistakenly distinguished the difference between flying ants and termites because both insects look very similar, regarding their shape, size, and colour.

Flying termites

  • Colour — Beige or tan colour. Can vary depending on the species.
  • Wings — 2 pairs in the same size white or translucent in colour.
  • Antennae — Flying termites have straight antennae.
  • Waist — Thick waist, without constriction between thorax and abdomen.

Flying ants

  • Colour — Dark colour, mostly in red or black.
  • Wings — The front wings are longer than the back wings.
  • Antennae — Flying ants have bent antennae.
  • Waist — Thin waist, the constriction between thorax and abdomen.

5. How to keep flying termites away?

As flying termites make up only a small percentage, the best way to get rid of flying termites is to exterminate all of the termites in general.

Eradicating termites from your property will not only deal with flying termites but also reduce and limit the spread, as well as the potential for future termite colonies in your area.

There are multiple termite treatment options available to help eradicate termites from your home, including:

  • Termite baiting treatment
  • Liquid termiticide treatment
  • Termite pre-construction treatment

Worried about flying termites? Get in contact with Rentokil today to find out how to protect your home from termite damage.

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  • A broad range of termite control options to suit your home and business
  • With over 2,800 local, accredited pest controllers, we provide a fast-response service across Indonesia
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