What Flying Termites Look Like (Explained)

Finding out you have termites with wings swarming around your home can be worrisome, to put it lightly. 

Still, the situation can become more complicated when you find the remnants of termite wings. Finding pairs of wings around your home window sills and door frames signifies new termite colonies.

A flying termite varies by color, but its wings are typically beige oval-shaped. They are roughly 3/8th inches and contain a singular body instead of being broken into segments.

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Thankfully, this article aims to educate you on what flying termites look like and how you can defend against a termite invasion and keep them from causing extensive structural damage to your home.

Different Types of Termites

There are over 2000 known species of termites. The most common are:

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  • Subterranean termites are found in every state except Alaska. This species lives in subterranean colonies or beneath damp, hidden locations aboveground, with a maximum population of 2 million.
  • Formosan termites are the most aggressive and devious termite species known in science. They can cause severe damage to homes when they infest walls, as seen with their intricate large colonies.
  • Drywood termites infest dry wood and can rapidly spread throughout wooden structures. Drywood termites may be found along the Southern United States Atlantic coast from North Carolina through the Gulf Coast to California’s coastal areas.
  • Dampwood termites primarily attack timber with high moisture content, particularly in damp locations. Dampwood termites do not commonly infest residential structures since wood has a low moisture content in buildings. They are found on the West Coast and adjacent states, the desert or semi-arid southwest, and southern Florida.

What Do Flying Termites Look Like?

Termites can easily be confused for several other winged critters. To the untrained eye, they may look similar, but they are different.

Still, a few differences will allow you to distinguish termites with wings from carpenter ants with wings.

1. Wing’s Color & Size

The first noticeable difference you would want to observe is their wings’ size and shape, which is somewhat unique. 

Flying ants have a darker color and longer front wings than back wings. They serve different purposes, from masking their appearance to giving them more stability during flight. 

A termite’s wings are typically a beige, almost vanilla color with the same shape and size as its other wings.

A termite’s wings are longer and oval-shaped equal in size. You can almost say it mimics that of a dried-out maple tree seed and is ultimately rather bland-looking.

2. Length of a Winged Termite

While on the topic of their wings, the general length of a termite’s wings can grow as large as twice their body length. The overall size of a termite itself can get to be as large as 3/8th of an inch!

Termites have a singular, long body that is not broken into segments like flying ants bodies. 

One large body allows a white ant to be even more easily identified when coupled with their wings design. 

3. Their Antennae

If you do happen to inspect one closely enough, you can also note another difference from any other insect you might be more familiar with, and that note comes in the form of how their antennae are shaped.

If you were to observe a bug that closely resembled them, like winged ants, you would note that their bent antennae are broken into two segments. 

At the same time, termites have slightly shorter and straight antennae that lack the segmenting aspect entirely.

4. Color of a Winged Termite

One final clue as to whether or not you are dealing with a termite or an ant boils down to its color. 

The colors themselves can vary quite significantly depending on where you are located. 

Still, you could expect to find the termites themselves can be either light beige, dark brown, or even black, depending on what species you are dealing with.

5. Male vs. Female Flying Termites

Female termites release a pheromone when in flight which attracts potential male termites. Thus, a termite swarm is male termites attracted to the female pheromones during the breeding season.

Once the mating ritual is completed and the termites return to their underground colonies, the female discards her wings to establish a new termite nest.

Where Do Flying Termites Come From?

It is an interesting question, but one that is easy to answer grows increasingly more complicated as we dive deeper into the topic itself.

Flying termites come from the same place all other termite types, which would be a termite colony. 

When termites move throughout their lifecycle, they can become one of three types of termites that contribute something extra to their territory.

Life Cycle of a Termite

As you might expect, the life cycle begins as a simple egg and becomes more mobile and annoying by association once they hatch into the second part of their life, as larvae. 

The larvae themselves will eventually grow into nymphs, and it is at this point in the lifecycle that a termite either becomes:

  • worker termites
  • soldier termites
  • flying termites 

Reproductive termites will eventually grow sets of wings, allowing them to seek out a new area to begin yet another settlement. 

Upon finding a said location, it will shed its wings upon finding a mate and become either a King or Queen termite, depending on gender.

How Do I Get Rid of Flying Termites in My House?

The easiest way to get rid of termites is by killing them, but that is an extreme simplification of a large-scale termite problem. 

If you have flying termites in your home, you are likely amid a full-on infestation.

Treating a termite infestation is not something that you should do alone. 

This is especially true if you are inexperienced in how white ants are to be handled and what long-term solutions you have at your disposal to ensure that it is a fight you can win.

While you can treat afflicted areas with something like borax powder, which, when mixed with water and sprayed in areas, will affect them, it lacks the certainty that you have killed the colony, and in the long run, that’s a band-aid on a wound that needs stitches so to speak.

Your best solution would be to see the aid and guidance of a licensed professional, preferably with a lot of time in the industry. 

So, anything from Terminix to Orkin would be able to diagnose the severity of your infestation. However, you and the professionals will need to have a plan to eliminate the pests once and for all.

Another perk that comes with utilizing a company would be that you can hold them accountable for a failure to remove all of them, or if the first treatments are successful, having a reliable company that can inspect your home for years to come.

Do Termites Fly After Rain?

Termites most certainly fly after rain, and one of the primary reasons they do this is the air being more still and calm. 

This peaceful atmosphere will allow them to travel more considerable distances without actively fighting winds and better find a prime location for a new colony.

Taking that information into account does not necessarily mean you will ONLY find them flying after heavy rains, especially if you live in a dry, arid climate where it does not often rain. 

Truthfully, even a localized species is lovingly referred to as “Desert Termites.”

Are Flying Termites Harmful?

These airborne nuisances might not be able to cause you any harm physically (termites don’t bite people usually). Still, they can certainly hurt you financially. 

Depending on how severe that issue becomes, you may be taking emotional trauma because finding out your home is falling apart at the seams can damage anyone’s mental health.

The biggest concern you have when flying termites is the understanding that they are actively attempting to make a colony. 

If white ants are in your home, your entire household is the buffet they seek to destroy and gorge themselves on.

Seeing flying termites in your home should cause enough alarm in you to seek out a professional and take care of the problem immediately, as the longer they have to roost, the harder they are to kill, and the more it will cost you in the long run.

Why Do Flying Termites Suddenly Appear?

In most cases flying termites do not precisely appear. It is more or less a case of you only recently noticing the more significant numbers of them actively moving around.

Environmental factors can come together in a perfect storm and see an extreme increase in the number of flying termites you will notice (more on that below). 

Still, typically, it just boils down to you not actively looking for them in the first place.

Picking up on the perfect storm comment, termites are usually more active between spring and summer, but they have an even higher chance of seeking new refuge after a nice rain. 

Additionally, termites are highly attracted to bright lights. If you were to have all of these variables line up simultaneously, you could experience an enormous swarm of flying termites appearing out of nowhere. Still, there is undoubtedly a method to the madness.

Do Swarmers Mean I Have Termites?

“Swarmers” or a flying termite swarm are a heavy indication that your home is being scouted as a potential home for a new colony or that you already have termites infesting your home, and the territory is such a significant look to expand.

Either way, you view it, you are not in a good situation. You would be wise to look into the matter more deeply and call a professional because, as we’ve stated in this article, the situation can quickly get out of hand.

Why Do Flying Termites Mean Serious Trouble?

There are many reasons why flying termites can spell disaster for your home and your wallet association. 

Still, the biggest reason to take them seriously would be the repercussions that could befall you if you ignore the issue.

One of the first problems that come to mind would be the overall structural integrity of your home being compromised in the long run.

It is a fact that termites eat wood. The studs in your walls, the framework of your home, and the foundations of your floor all have wood inside them. 

Given enough time for termites to eat large holes in them, your odds of falling through the floor, leaning against the wall and creating a hole, or any other stability issue arising constantly.

Safety being the primary concern, termite damage can be expensive repairs. 

Worse yet, those repairs cannot begin until the infestation is gone (unless you want to run the risk of the termites doing it again or causing another hole in another location), which ultimately means you will be losing money in all directions.

During said treatments and repairs, you aren’t be able to stay in your home, so you will either be putting weight on your relationships with your family or renting a hotel. 

At the same time, you wait for things to get back on track, so having “serious trouble” is quite the understatement. 

Do Flying Termites Mean an Infestation?

Simply seeing a flying termite does not necessarily mean you have a full-on infestation on your hands, but it is nothing to scoff at either. 

The costly damage that can occur is not worth taking the risk of shrugging the sighting off as a one-off.

Observing the situation and the area itself can give you plenty of information on how far along with the issue. 

Anything from large clumps of discarded wings to mud tubes can tell you things are getting out of hand.

You can also place your ear to your walls and listen closely. If you hear repeated clicking or scraping noises, you may hear soldier termites eating away at your walls in real-time!

You can inspect the corners of the walls of your home and the perimeter of the home’s exterior for termite droppings. 

Another thing you can do is check on mud tunnels leading from the ground up to a window or some other entry point into your home.

Seeing any of those signs should warrant you to seek help as you have more than likely got an infestation on your hands. 

Assuming you seek aid quickly, you may be able to get rid of these pests and be advised on preventative measures you can take to keep your home from being a target in the future.

How Long Do Winged Termites Live?

Assuming the winged termite does not find a suitable dwelling to establish a new colony, the pest will typically die within a few hours of its maiden flight. 

Still, if they do find a new home, you can have a new roommate for decades to come if left unfound.

Assuming the winged termite fails its only purpose in life, it will not cause you any concern. 

Still, upon success, it not only refuses to die by conventional means for at least 15-17 years but will be creating descendants that will spread misery to your neighbors (and potentially your children if they inherit your home).

As a fun fact, some of the longest-living queen termites ever recorded have lived up to 30 years. 

Knowing that your average soldier termite lives for around two years, you can conclude that a singular queen can create 15 generations of termites in a worst-case scenario!

What Attracts Termites to a House?

The biggest thing a termite looks for when attempting to find a new home would be an easy access point to begin setting up new colonies.

1. Anything with Cellulose

Termites will be attracted to anything that contains cellulose. These pests can enter through anything from cracks to the windows or walls of your home. 

Termites can also go inside your home to an opening, especially if you opened it up for ventilation purposes. 

Whether white ants can get in quickly is their prime target for a home.

2. Bright Lights

Winged termites specifically are attracted to a bright light source, so your windows at night can be a welcome home sign to them. 

Other outside sources could also create a wonderful home for termites just outside your home.

3. Wood Debris

Any wooden debris around your homes like stacked firewood, old tree stumps, and wood mulch can serve as temporary homes for termites before they invade your home.

4. Some Defense Against Termites

Being active in your prevention methods and actively patrolling the outside of your home so that you cut off any access points for termites will go a long way in keeping your home safe and sound from an invasion.

For this precise reason, one of the best defenses against termites boils down to keeping your home and yard clean and tidy. This works for many other troublesome and annoying insects that could eventually terrorize you, too, so that you will kill two birds with one stone.

Can Winged Termites Affect Selling a Home?

The discovery of termites in a home can cause concern for both a buying and selling party and have advantages and disadvantages. 

Suppose you are looking to buy a home, and you discover termites. In that case, you can immediately begin talks on lowering the price. 

However, doing so would have to be written out in a legal agreement because, in most states, the original homeowner is legally responsible for treating a termite infestation.

Another thing to be wary of would be handling the situation, especially if the said house was previously infested. 

Yet, the home had already been sold without the buyer knowing of said infestation.

In that scenario, the buyer could take the seller to court and potentially sue them for damages and the entirety of the treatment for infestation and repairs following.

So, being upfront and honest about one is not only the best moral choice but could also save you a lot of money in legal fees in the long run.

You’ll Need Professional Guidance

As we’ve mentioned countless times in this article, if you notice the more minor tell-tale signs of an initial infestation, things are often too far out of hand for a DIY solution.

One of the biggest reasons for this is the resilience and depth that a termite invasion signifies. Unlike most bugs, if you have a termite infestation, they are swarming around you on the floors and walls of your home.

Due to this, just spraying in a few corners will not be enough to handle the severity of a problem like this. Most people do not have the equipment or knowledge on how to handle such a problem in a way that you will have any real peace about.

If you wonder whether or not you have termites, your best choice would be to call a professional for a termite inspection. This is akin to the first step at the beginning of an excellent offensive strike against the termites eating your home.

Termite inspections can vary in price, so you could expect to pay anything between $50 to $300, depending on where you are. 

In most cases, the national average for your initial inspection is around $100.

Following Up On the Inspection

After getting your home inspected, you can expect a few things to happen. Suppose the professional determines you were lucky enough to see a few probing winged termites. 

In that case, they will probably delegate some time to educate you on how you can prepare to defend against future attempts on your home and set up a routine inspection for the pests themselves.

Suppose you were unlucky, and the professional does happen to find evidence of an infestation. 

In that case, you can expect them to sit down with you and go over a detailed plan of attack on how they treat your home and do so cost-effectively for you and don’t interrupt your life too much.

The agent might even be able to direct you to a local contractor to help get repairs in order following the eradication of the insects to help ease the process of recovery for you. 

Still, this is not always guaranteed, so you may have to seek a local hardware store or other means to contact someone skilled at handling these kinds of repairs.

Conclusion

Finding flying termites in or around your home can be problematic, but it doesn’t necessarily mean your home is already compromised. 

However, it does signify that you are at risk and need to be proactive about your following choices, lest your entire home and financial security come at risk.

Do You Need a Termite Inspection or Treatment?

Get FREE quotes from licensed pest control technicians in your area today. Whether you need a termite inspection or a full treatment, We Can Help! All technicians are screened, licensed, and insured.

Get a FREE Quote Today
We earn a commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.
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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 HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
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