Flying Termites: Features & Swarming Season of Winged Termites


Flying Termites: Features & Swarming Season of Winged Termites
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The termites in your house can bring a lot of destruction to your property. In US only, the house owners spend around billion dollars each year on the preventive measures or treatments for termite infestations. This insect owns the earth, being found building its nests all round the world with the only exclusion of Antarctic.

In the jungle or in a rain forest of South America it can be an environmental helper for utilization of the dead wood. But in the cities it’s just a massive inconvenience, as long as we use woods to build our houses or other structures.

Termite types

Do termites have wings? Yes, but not all of them. There plenty of species of termites that can infiltrate your household, but there are only three major families:

  1. Drywood.
  2. Dampwood.
  3. Subterranean.

Learn more about the 5 types of termites Here.

The drywood termites prefer as the name states dry wood so they are a danger for all the structural elements of your household including timbers, floors, furniture.

The colonies of drywood family can be rather small (starting from just a 50-100 individuals) and they live without need of direct contact with the soil. The infestations by these species can be easily contained sometimes just by getting rid of the infested wooden element.

The dampwood termites are more interested in the tree stumps or decaying logs, so normally if your house is not rotting somewhere in its core the dampwood termites will not infest it and will stay in the woods where they belong.

The Subterranean termite is the greatest threat to wooden structures in USA. As it doesn’t build the nests above the ground it thrives in the soil itself.

So even if you got rid of all the possible signs of the infestation inside the building you cannot guarantee that the termites will not reenter the house if you do not use the soil treatment methods or other ways to make sure the nest is cut off or completely destroyed.

The most famous member of the subterranean family is a Formosan termite, the species that is not native to US, and that is nicknamed “super termite” for the size of its colonies that can reach up to several millions of individuals.

Flying Termites

Flying Termites

Why are we interested in swarmers?

To start the treatment against the termites you need to determine what kind of termite you are going to fight, especially if you want to use DIY methods, because the reasonable solution can be quite different for the drywood or subterranean termite.

READ ALSO:   Answers to the Most Frequently asked Questions about Termites

For identification of the species you need to find some individual termites. As you might already know, in the colony of the termites there are three casts:

  1. Workers.
  2. Soldiers.
  3. Winged termites.

The workers of all the species are very similar, so they are not suitable to determine the specific species. Soldiers can be used for their identification, but the best ones for this purpose are the winged reproductives, the alates that form the swarms.

If you can get one of them, you can bring them for the identification in your local pest control office. Sometimes even the shed wings themselves can be used for identification purpose. To sum up, why do termites swarm? They swarm in oder to create a new colony.

What causes swarms?

Once a population milestone is reached, termites start swarming as soon as the weather becomes warm and rainy. However, maturity of the colony is not the only thing that can trigger swarming. Also it may happen because of food or water deficiency, pesticides in close vicinity, thunderstorms and rapid changes in atmospheric pressure.

The number of alates spawned will be proportionate to the age and size of the colony, whereas the number of swarms emerging from the colony depends on the environmental conditions. This very period in which the termites send alates (swarmers) to start a new colonies is called a “swarming season”.

Swarming seasons: When do termites swarm

When do termites swarm? The termite swarming seasons for different species are different, though for each of them it lasts a few months. Thus, usually subterranean termites swarm in spring. Thousand alates fly out of their colonies, usually in daytime after a rainfall. However, there’re many subspecies of subterranean termites who behave differently:

  1. Eastern Subterranean Termites swarm from February to May.
  2. Arid-land Subterranean Termites’ alate fly away to start new colonies in spring or fall.
  3. Desert Subterranean Termites swarm in a period from July to September.
  4. Western Subterranean Termites can swarm any time of the year and, like all others, they tend to do it when it’s warm and wet.
  5. Dark Southeastern Subterranean Termites’ swarming occurs in summer.
  6. Light Southeastern Subterranean Termites tend to swarm in the fall.
  7. Formosan Termites swarm during the late spring. Unlike others, in nighttime.

NOTICE: An hour of drywood termite swarm strikes in late summer or fall, in nighttime. At once a colony sends up to 100 flying termites which fly toward a well-lit area.

And of course there’re special features each subspecies has:

  1. Tropical Rough-headed Drywood Termites normally swarm from April through July.
  2. Tropical Smooth-headed Drywood Termites can swarm any time of the year, but the peak is from March to May.
  3. Southeastern Drywood termites’ swarming season lasts from spring to early fall.
  4. Western Drywood termites swarm any time of the year. Unlike others, in daytime.
READ ALSO:   Can Termites Bite People & Spread Diseases?

When does termite swarming season end?

When does termite swarming season end? As you can see there is no definite answer in this question, everything depends on the specific type of pests.

Dampwood termites tend to do the colonization in summer.

Even though they usually don’t damage homes too often, the risks still are, so you should probably know when every subspecies start swarming:

  1. Desert Dampwood Termites start swarming from May and finish it in October.
  2. Florida Dampwood Termites do the colonization from late spring through early winter.
  3. Those Nevada Dampwood Termites which live at higher elevations swarm in spring, while those who inhabit coastal areas tend to swarm in early fall or summer.
  4. Pacific Dampwood Termites swarm during the early fall or late summer in evenings. Only about 60 individuals are sent at once.

Normally colonies swarm only once per season, though if one does swarm a few times again, the following swarms are bound to be less intense than the first one.

Geography of swarming

The rule is simple: the more humid and warm the climate is, the more active termites are. For example, if you live in Florida, you can expect your cozy little colony on the backyard to start multiplying as early as in February or even December, in spite of everything that has been written above.

In fact, they can start swarming as soon as the temperature rises to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hard to imagine in northern states. As for northern states, you can expect your termites to multiply in winter only if their colony is within a heated building.

Besides it’s obvious that only those termites that can live in these areas can swarm in there. So in cold places where drywood termites cannot survive, e.g. Montana or North Dakota, you can’t expect termite swarming in daytime. But in Florida where you can find practically all kinds of termites, because it’s very hot and wet in there, swarming can start at any moment.

In fact, the further you go from North-West to South-East of the United States, the more species and subspecies you can see and the more protensive and intense their swarms are. However, of course, in such arid regions like Texas you won’t see Dampwood termites, while Drywood ones can hardly be found among Missouri wetlands.

Are flying termites dangerous?

If you’d like a simple answer – no. Do flying termites bite? The termite alates do not bite people or pets; they do not destroy wood themselves. But their presence is a dangerous sign. As they are not good at flying, finding the winged termites or even only their wings might mean that the colony is nearby, and it’s a fully-developed mature colony of a big size.

READ ALSO:   Drywood Termites: Identification, Causes, Prevention & Treatment Cost

If you see a swarm just in a close proximity to your house, check if it comes from the ground or a log. If it’s just a piece of tree – it might be that your house is not infested yet, but the prevention measures should be taken not to get the drywood termites infestation.

If the swarm emerges from under the ground, you might be in trouble. The colonies of the subterranean species can be vast and huge in numbers. The good idea is to start some soil treatment right away.

Do not ignore even if you find some shed wings around the house. Flying termites attracted to light, so the most usual place to find their wings are the window and door sills. In case of Formosan termites, they are always attracted to the source of water, so their wings can be found under the sink or in the bathroom area.

More information about signs of infestation you will find in the following articles: early signs, what are the evidences of termite activity outside and in the house – in walls or furniture. What are droppings and do termites make noises?

How to get rid of the winged termites?

With the reproductives themselves all is quite simple – just a bit of a bug spray will do. But as we said that the appearance of them around your house can be a sign of a full-grown infestation going on.

If you suspect that the termites you have are only small drywood colony you can try the DIY methods, but only if you’re entirely sure, in any other case it is strongly recommended to put out the chemical barriers, baits or do the full-house fumigation, and all that has to be done by professionals.


In relation to termites, “to swarm” means “to send out alates and start a new colony”. Although, usually termites start swarming in spring and summer, in order to find out when precisely termites in your area do, you’ll have to find out which kinds of termites live in your proximity.

However, if you live in the North-West regions like Montana, you shouldn’t be bothered much about termites, since they are not native in these lands and, therefore termite swarm can never start there at all. At the same time, hot and humid climate of Florida helps termites to reproduce all year round.

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