Do Flying Termite Eat Wood? (All Termite Questions Answered)

Swarming Termites

Most people will know the unfortunate sight of flying termites. They usually make themselves known after a hot weather spell, which was followed by rain. No matter how fast you are at closing your windows and doors, you will inevitably find a flying termite or three in your house.

Should this concern you? Should the fact that there was a swarm near your home be worrying? Will they cause damage to your house?

Flying termites do not eat wood at first. Once their wings fall off and they start to create their new colony, then they will begin to break down the wood in your home. Some termites may not even eat the wood; they may use the wood to create fungi gardens, and then they will eat the fungi.

Flying termites could indicate a problem to homeowners and may need to be addressed as soon as possible. Let us find out why by answering all of your questions.

Do Flying Termites Eat Wood?

If you see flying termites around your house, you may be concerned about any wood in and around your home that could be damaged, but do termites eat wood?

Termites are split into two groups: the macrotermes, which eat wood, and the other is the microtermes, which eat grass and other plants. However, they both do use wood in their ways. So, they will both do a lot of damage to your wooden structures in and around your home.

Flying termites do not eat wood when they have wings, as at this stage, they are flying around to find a suitable place to build a nest and breed. When their wings fall off, this could indicate that they have found a place and that they are going to nest soon.

Having a termite’s wings fall off could mean disaster for your wood structures as this is when they begin breaking down the wood they find.

You may be wondering why some termites can fly and some cannot. Why do some have wings?

The Difference Between Flying Termites And Normal Termites

Why do certain termites have wings? And why do they develop these wings in the first place?

Flying termites are also known as swarms when they fly out of the nests.

Swarming of flying termites occurs when the termite nest matures, and a few develop wings and fly off into the air to create new colonies. Then these flying termites breed and build nests or colonies of their own. These flying termites become Kings and Queens in new colonies.

These flying termites are known as Alates. Flying termites are adult reproductive termites that are sexually mature and are the only termites that can create new colonies.

The all the other termites in the colony are workers and soldier termites, along with the colonies King and Queen.

The workers and the soldiers do not mature into flying ants, as they are needed to stay to work and protect their colony.  

Only the termites destined to go and create new colonies are the termites that develop wings, much like bees.

So, flying termites are different from regular termites as they can reproduce. This can be a huge concern for homeowners who come across swarms close to their houses. 

What Do Termites Eat?

Termites are known to destroy wooden structures, but do they actually eat the wood?

Some termites eat wood, and some eat grass and other plants, as stated previously. However, they both use wood and so damage to the wood in your home.

Some termites break down the wood and take it back to their nests to use as a farm to grow a fungi garden. The termites then eat this fungus to increase their nitrogen sources, which helps with their digestion.

Some termites will place their nests under vegetation such as grass, and they will eat the roots of these plants until the plant dies, and then they will move on to find another source of food, which could include some wood.

And then some termites do, in fact, just eat wood.

All of these termites are dangerous to your wooden structures as they will all break down the wood to use in their nests in some way. So, homeowners need to be concerned about any termites they come across close to or even in their homes.

How To Prevent Termites In Your Home

No matter which type of termites are present, you need to be vigilant as termites cost homeowners billions of dollars in treatment costs and damages every year.

So how do you prevent your house from becoming another casualty of a termite infestation? You need to start outside your home.

Prevent Termites Outside Your Home

Starting the prevention process outside your home is one of the best ways to prevent termites from entering your home. Here are things you can go through to help stop termites before they get to your house.

  • Is your garden fence made of wood? This could be a huge breeding ground for termites. For your garden fences, make sure that you only use treated lumber and keep the fence’s wood out of the environment by using metal post holders for the fence posts so the termites can not get to the wood.
  • Keep any firewood stores away from the walls of your house. Firewood will attract termites. Also, try to keep your firewood off the ground if you can.
  • You should remove any dead trees or tree stumps, or at least monitor them. They have an extensive root system and ideal for termites to go after as they are a good food source.
  • Reduce any leaks from outside taps or water systems as termites need moisture to survive in the ground, so any leaks will help expand their colony and come ever closer to your home.
  • Shrubs, trees, plant pots. If you have any trees, shrubs, or plant pots around your home walls, then trim them back or move them away, so they do not touch the house’s walls. If you have any potted plants, make sure they do not touch the walls of your home either.
  • Try to keep some space between wood and soil, at least eighteen inches if you can, as this will keep the termites uninterested in the wood. An easy way to do this is with a gravel bed.
  • Use termite repellents on wooden structures such as fences and sheds to help protect wood that has not been found by termites yet.

You can also get a pest control service out to put a chemical barrier around your house, which will kill any termites that try and get close to your home.

Once you have secured the outside of your home, you then need to move inside your home.

We have found a couple of very educational videos in terms of preventing termites from inside and outside your home. The second video is further down.

Prevent Termites Inside Your Home

Now that you have protected the outside of your house, now you can move inside your house and go through some precautions in your home.

  • Look through your house.  First, you want to make sure you do not already have termites in your home, so do a quick sweep of your house’s foundations. Walk around slowly and look for any signs of damage or mud tubes that termites use to travel up concrete to find wood.
  • If you see any evidence of a termite nest, you may want to contact a pest control service to help you develop a treatment plan.
  • If your house is all clear, have one more look around to make sure you did not miss anything, then we can begin the prevention process.
  • Ensure you have proper ventilation and sealing in your attics and basements, as this is the key to moisture control in your home. And, as stated earlier, termites love moisture.
  • Use plastic containers as an alternative to cardboard boxes for storage in your home, as cardboard attracts termites into your house.
  • If you have an air-conditioner in your home, ensure the moisture drainage is clear and take the water away from your house instead of releasing it near your house.

If you have any concerns or need help, please contact your local pest control service to ensure your house is protected from termites.


The presence of flying termites can signify a serious problem for homeowners as this could mean that a colony is close by or already in your home, or the flying termites may choose your home as a good place for their new colony.

Flying termites do not eat wood while they have their wings, but when they create their new colonies, they will eat wood or use wood in their nests.

So, if you see flying termites, you may want to consult a professional pest control service to make sure you can protect your home and wallet from a termite infestation.


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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
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