Michigan’s flying termites are usually the reproductive caste (“alates”) of Eastern Subterranean termite colonies. Alates swarm during their mating season, between February and April. During swarms, flying termites seek mates, lay eggs, and establish new colonies. Alates themselves can’t hurt you, but you don’t want them starting new colonies nearby!

Flying termites swarm around areas where they want to establish new colonies. Worse, they usually don’t fly too far from their old colonies. In other words, if you notice a flying termite swarm near your home, then you’re either at serious risk of a termite infestation… or you’ve already had one for awhile. Here’s what you should know about the flying termites that may be near you, and what you should do about them:

What do flying termites look like?

Eastern subterranean termite alates are around ⅜ to ½” long from head to wing tip. Whereas worker and soldier castes are tan, orange, or brown in coloration, reproductive alates are usually very dark brown or black. Alates are also the only caste of termites with compound eyes.

Flying termite’s wings are translucent and about twice as long as their body length. After male and female alates successfully mate, their wings permanently fall off. One particularly likely sign of termite infestation is finding several of these discarded wings in a pile. You’re mostly likely to see flying termites in Spring.

How can I tell flying termites apart from ants?

Eastern subterranean alates are often mistaken for flying ants because they look so similar. The biggest differences are the wings. Both ants and termites have two pairs of wings, but the termite’s wings are twice as long as their bodies, whereas ant wings are only about proportionate to their bodies.

An ant’s first pair of wings is also larger than their second pair, whereas a termite’s wings are completely uniform. Termites also have a broad waist, whereas ants have a tiny waist and appear clearly segmented. Finally, look at the antennae: Termites have straight antennae, whereas ant’s antennae bend into an “L” shape.

Why are termites flying now?

Termite alates swarm between February and April because it’s mating season. The only reason the winged reproductive caste exists in the first place is to seek mates, lay eggs, and establish new colonies. If you see flying termites, it’s because they’re looking for mates or places to build colonies.

Why are termites flying around me?

If there are a lot of flying termites swarming around your home, it’s for one of two reasons: either there’s a large, established colony nearby producing quite a few alates… or alates think the area around your home is a good place to build new colonies.

Termite colonies don’t produce reproductive alates until they’re well-established and “successful.” After several seasons of growth, the colony begins producing alates to further expand and capitalize on plentiful food sources nearby. These food sources could be connected to the original colony’s food source, or merely in the same general area. Either way is bad news for your home’s wood.

Are termite swarms dangerous?

Not directly, no. Termites don’t bite, sting, or otherwise attack humans in any way, and they can’t transmit diseases. Termite swarmers are looking for mates and want absolutely nothing to do with you. What can be dangerous, however, is the damage a flying termite’s offspring could inflict on your home.

How can I get rid of flying termites?

First: call the pros. The most reliable way to prevent a termite infestation is to take decisive action against swarmers now. We’ll help identify vulnerabilities and set up exclusionary baits and barriers to keep swarmers from establishing themselves. By acting now, you can save yourself a lot of trouble later.

Look for ways to make the wood around your home less accessible to termites. Treat, cover, or block any untreated wood that contacts or comes within five inches of the ground. Clear any debris around your yard. Check your porches, decks, and door and window frames for signs of damage. If you notice any, call us right away.

 

In a way, flying termites represent a good opportunity–really! Subterranean termites can be hard to locate until they’ve inflicted serious damage. Noticing termite swarmers is one of the only reliable ways to locate their colonies. But it’s what you do after you notice these swarmers that’s critical! 

So, what should you do? Call Griffin Pest Solutions. Our Termite Protection Plan finds termite colonies, wipes them out, and protects you from them in the future. Next time you notice a termite fly by, don’t wait! Call now and you won’t have to worry about the damage you’re not seeing again.

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