Do Termites Fly

By: Olivia Nell

Have you recently noticed sawdust-like piles throughout your home or mud-like trails along some of your outside walls? Have the wooden structures in your home become increasingly darker or thinner? Are there swarming insects inside your house or in the wood makeup of your house? Then you probably have termites.

Do Termites fly?

One of the most frequently asked questions about termites is, “Do termites fly?” There are many types of termites. The most common types of termites include dampwood termites, drywood termites, formosan termites, and subterranean termites.All of these termites are winged. So the answer is yes, termites fly.

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Termites or Flying Ants?

Do Termites Fly?Before you call an exterminator, stop and take a closer look. Those pesky little “termites” destroying your home may not be termites after all. These pests may just be flying ants. Your first clue will be found by investigating its antennae. Are they straight or bent and crooked? Termites have straight antennae as opposed to flying ants, which have bent antennae. Now, it may be a little difficult to notice a distinct difference in the antennae, so your second clue might be to look at the size of their wings. Both termites and flying ants have two sets of wings. However, termites’ wings are equal in length, while the flying ants have one set that is longer than the other.  The third clue will be found in observing the body shapes of both. Termites have a pinched waist, but the waist of a flying ant is straight. These key differences should help you determine if you have a serious infestation of home destroying flying termites, or if it’s just a swarm of flying ants.

Swarming

Termites are often found in large swarms. This means that they fly around in large groups. Swarming occurs in mature colonies. These colonies generally contain at least several thousand termites. A swarm is composed of adult male and female reproductives. When these termites fly or swarm, it is so they can disperse and start new colonies.

Winged/Flying Termites

There are four main types of flying termites: dampwood termites, drywood termites, formosan termites, and subterranean termites. It is important to know the difference between these termites in order to know how to treat them.

 

1. Dampwood Termites:

  • Color: Brownish
  • Body Shape: Long, Oval
  • Number of Legs: 6
  • Size: ½” – ⅝”

2. Drywood Termites:

  • Color: Light Brown
  • Body Shape: Long, Oval
  • Number of Legs: 6
  • Size: ⅜” – 1”

3. Formosan Termites:

  • Color: Yellow Brown
  • Body Shape: Long, Oval
  • Number of Legs: 6
  • Size: ½”

4. Subterranean Termites:

  • Color: Creamy Brown
  • Body Shape: Long, Oval
  • Number of Legs: 6
  • Size: ⅛” – 1”

Where Are These Flying Termites Most Likely Found?

Dampwood termites are mainly found in moist areas. You can commonly find dampwood termites along the Pacific coast, in the Southwest desert, and in southern Florida. Drywood termites are found under the opposite conditions as dampwood termites. They create colonies in wood. You will most likely find them in attic wood. They need very little moisture, unlike dampwood termites. Drywood termites are often found in coastal, southern states, and Southwestern states. Formosan termites are common in areas with warm climates. They are very densely populated in Southern states such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and North Carolina. They are also found in Hawaii and California, as well as along the Canadian border. Subterranean termites are found all around the United States. However, it is less likely to find them in the colder, northern states. They are more common in the South. They are mostly found in the region between Florida and Southern California. They do, however, exist in every state except Alaska.

Termite Damage

Dampwood termites are not as harmful as other termites. Most of the damage caused by dampwood termites is by eating the grain in already decayed wood. The wood that dampwood termites damaged is generally smooth and clean on the inside. Drywood termites are not as common as other termites, yet the damage that they cause is substantial. They leave fecal pellets throughout your home, which is a sign of an infestation. Formosan termites generally cause damage during home renovations. Homeowners may see parts of the walls or structures begin to sag. This could be a sign of formosan termites. Subterranean Termites cause a lot of costly damage. Building foundations can be completely torn apart by these termites. They will also cause damage to plants like trees and shrubs. Each of these groups of flying termites can cause serious damage to homes. However the most destructive termites are subterranean termites!

Prevention

Termites are extremely destructive! They can cause a lot of damage which can lead to a lot of money coming out of your pocket. However, there are ways to prevent these unwanted pests.

Dampwood Termites

  • Moisture is prominent to dampwood termites survival (hence the name “dampwood”). Solving moisture problems can help get rid of dampwood termites. Any place with plumbing problems, water leaks, or rainwater damage would be a likely place for these termites to be hiding.

Flying TermiteDrywood Termites:

  • Drywood Termites can easily be prevented when following these measures:
    • Do not keep firewood and/or scrap wood in or near your house
    • Repair any cracks or crevices outside your home

Formosan Termites:

  • Not only do dampwood termites live mostly in moist regions, formosan termites do as well. So, like dampwood termites, you can keep formosan termites away from your home by being cautious of damp/wet areas around your house.

Subterranean Termites:

  • Subterranean termites can be found all around the US. However, they are most common in the humid, south around states like Florida, and Southern California. Subterranean termites can be prevented just like most termites. Just be aware of moisture and wood scraps around your house.

These are just preventative measures that you should take. However, sometimes it is just too late and these pests have already taken over your home. At this point, there may be only one option: call an exterminator.

Treatment Options:

Drywood Termites:  

When it comes to treating drywood termites, there are two main categories of treatment: Total (whole-house) eradication and local or spot control.

Total Eradication: There are two methods for whole-house eradication – fumigation and heat.

Fumigation:

  • During fumigation, no one may be inside the house
  • Pets and plants must be removed from the house because fumigation is very harmful to them
  • A toxic gas is used to penetrate parts of the wooden structures and kill the termites.
  • This process can take anywhere from 6 hours to one week
  • The house is covered with a tent during this process

                        Heat:

 

  • No one may be inside the house during this method
  • Pets, plants, and other heat sensitive items must be removed from house to prevent any damage
  • The house is covered with tarps while the process takes place
  • Hot air is blown inside the house until the temperature is at 140° to 150°F
  • The temperature of the structure timbers must be at 120° F

Spot Control: Includes pesticides, electric current, localized heat, extreme cold, and/or microwave energy

  • Infested structural timber must be removed and replaced
  • This method kills termites but only in the infested area, not the entire house

Subterranean and Dampwood Termites:

Most methods for treating subterranean and dampwood termites include the application of insecticides or baiting programs.

Insecticides:

Insecticides are applied to the soil around the house. You have to be very careful when using insecticides because they can be very harmful when they are used in the wrong places. There are some insecticides however, that are less toxic to humans and other mammals, and are usually successful in wiping out your flying/swarming termite infestation.

Baiting:

Baiting is a very easy method for getting rid of flying termites. There are many different bait products, most of which  are for professional use only. However, there are some baiting methods that are over-the-counter products. Baiting is only used for subterranean termites, not for dampwood termites, drywood termites, or formosan termites.

Formosan Termites:

Two common treatment options for formosan termites are barrier treatments and fumigation.

Barrier Treatments:

Barrier treatments are used to create a barrier of treated soil around the perimeter of a foundation. This stops formosan termites from accessing the structure anywhere else. Other entryways could include small crevices or cracks in the structure. Barrier treatments treat all possible entry points to ensure that the flying termites have no way of entry.

Fumigation:

Fumigation is also used to treat formosan termite infestations. The same procedures apply for the fumigation with formosan termites, as the fumigation process in removing drywood termites.

Termites are one of the most destructive and costly species of insects. There are many different types of termites and they are found all over the globe. Termites cause around 5 BILLION dollars of damage every year! Without proper treatment, termites could possibly continue to cause much more damage, leading to bigger problems. Plus, it is just annoying having termites flying around your home. If you think you might have termites, be sure to call an exterminator right away to get an accurate assessment of the problem.

Have Pest Problems? Get Help From A Pro - Click Here For A Free Quote From A Local Exterminator And Stop Worrying.