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What do termites look like and can they fly?

Our tropical climate in Singapore makes conditions very favorable for termite season all year round! As the weather becomes warmer, usually after a spot of rain, termite swarms begin to occur. This is when winged termites leave their nest to find a mate and start a new colony, which could be in your home.

Termites can often be mistaken for white ants so knowing exactly what these crawling insects look like can help you take a proactive approach to protecting your property from termite damage.

What do termites look like?

Providing a general description of what termites look like can be somewhat difficult. This is because depending on the species and caste, their appearance can differ. For example, some termites can appear to be white or translucent in colour, whilst others can be a brownish-black colouring.

Here we have compile a list of questions which many of us are confused with on termites

How to identify termites

Aside from their colouring, there are a handful of aesthetics that can help you identify termites. They are:

  • A thick waist
  • Two straight antennae
  • ¼ - ½ inch long

Depending on the caste, the appearance of a termite can differ. Although they generally look the same, there are a handful of unique characteristics which separates each faction.

Read also: Can the termite pest travel?

How can termite infestation damage a home?

Termites can be damaging to a home in many ways including the ruin of the home interior with unsightly mud tubes, blobbing wallpaper and floorboards. In addition, it can crack and damage wall structure leaving “scars” and weaken the structure including panels, beams and ceilings. In over time, the instability can cause a collapse, pausing safety risk to family members around. Flying termite infestation can cause a swarm of them roaming around the home where there are lights and their discarded wings on the floor can lead to unpleasant housekeeping mess. Question you may ask is “what to do if I have termites in my home”? Most importantly, is not to take matters into own hands by resolving the infestation with insecticides or unproven termite elimination remedies, as they can destroy a home by feeding on the wood around, it is best to engage a professional termite control specialist instead.

You may also like: Essential termite prevention tips

What does a queen termite look like?

During the early stages of their life, termite queens are flying termites so their appearance reflects those in that caste.

However, once they have fulfilled their duty of breeding and begin to start a new colony their appearance starts to differ. Due to the large number of eggs she will begin to produce her abdomen starts to stretch and becomes translucent, reaching the size of an index finger and leaving her immobile and totally dependent on the worker termites of the colony.

What do soldier termites look like?

The main role of soldier termites is to defend the colony. Because of this, their appearance differs from other termites in order to provide them with the correct tools to fulfil their role.

Soldier termites have large, hard heads that are often dark in colour and come equipped with a large set of jaws or mandibles.

What do worker termites look like?

Worker termites resemble the stereotypical representation of these pests. As they are the ones which leave the nest to gather food, these are the insects you will typically spot.

Termites with wings


Flying termites, also known as alates, differ in appearance from other termites due to one feature. Yep, as you probably guessed, their wings.

Flying termites have two sets of equal-sized wings which are almost twice the size of their bodies. Flying ants, on the other hand, have a large pair of wings in the front and smaller ones at the back.

A flying termite usually appears in matured colonies where the winged males and females fly out to seek new spots to build a new colony of their own. Your home could be a target for these flying termites! Call Rentokil Pest Control at (65) 6347 8138.

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