Types of Flying Termites?
A termite colony can be classified into castes. Each of these castes has a specific part to play in the colony. These four (4) castes of a termite colony include:
- The King and queen termite
- The flying/winged termites, also known as Alates
So yes, termites can fly, but just as mentioned, not all of them can. Termites do not belong in the flying insect category like the wasps and mosquitoes, etc, as it is just a caste that can fly and can only do so for a short time before they lose their wings.
Out of the aforementioned termite castes, only the alates can fly, being the only caste fitted with wings. They are the only termites with the responsibility of reproducing as they are the future kings and queens of the next formed colonies. The flying patterns of these termites are known as swarms.
What do Flying Termites Look Like?
Flying termites can be distinguished from other flying insects by just taking a closer look.
Termites generally can be identified by their body shape. Both flying and flightless termites have a thick body with just one part. They do not have a constriction between their thorax and abdomen just like other ants have.
Flying termites tend to come in different colors depending on the species. Normally, flying termites come in the same beige/tan color just like other termites. They possess a pair of antennae which are usually straight with a slight curve. They also have two sets of wings that are equal in length, white and translucent in color with a veined look.
Do Termites Fly Outside?
Flying termites are usually attracted to light. This we see more often than not; after a great rain pour, we see these creatures swarming around sources of light like the street lamps or the fluorescent light in your home.
After a while, these flying insects shed their wings and begin to crawl around the floor for a while before they finally die off.
It is not easy to notice a termite infestation in your home but the presence of a flying termite indicates a termite infestation.
Do Termites Fly in Swarms?
Ordinarily, a majority of termites do not develop wings, but from time to time, mature colonies produce many male and female winged termites.
These winged termites, also known as alates, depart from the safety of the colony in their numbers to nurture and establish new colonies. This character is known as swarming.
Winged termites swarm to nurture and begin new colonies, which signifies the outset of the termite life cycle.
During the swarming period, the sexually developed male and female winged termites usually leave their nests and take flight. This flight is equally known as nuptial flight. Other insects such as ants, etc take this nuptial flight too.
After they must have left their colonies, they assemble in the air and mate with other termites of the same species from other colonies. With mating successfully carried out, these termites land shed their wings, and start a new colony.
When Do Termites Swarm?
Swarming usually starts in the early spring when the weather is warm after a good rain pour. These termites make good use of environmental signals to know when to start swarming. They also take into consideration the other termite colonies of the same species to avoid the possibility of inbreeding.
The time of termite swarming differs depending on the species of termites. A good number of Subterranean termites swarm during the daytime whereas Formosan termites (a species of subterranean termites) preferably swarm at night.
Alates(flying termites) are usually attracted to light and are often seen swarming around these sources of light.
Just as earlier started, termites do not belong to the flying insects’ category as such, they are not good fliers. They naturally depend on the wind to help cover a long distance while flying. Therefore, termite swarms don’t last long, they are always found close to the originating nests. Depending on how strong the wind is, the future king and queen termites can travel far before they start a new colony.
Do Termites Bite Humans?
There is a possibility of that happening but then, their primary target is wood and plant. This means you can be bitten by a hungry termite. This is likely not to happen if the termite colony has additional sources for food.
Formosan termites are characterized by their pincers that are darker than the rest of their bodies. These castes are the colony’s main defense against predators. They are the soldiers. They tend to nip when picked up, but these pinches do not lead to any illness or disease in humans.
Termite bites are unusual but usually occur when there is food scarcity. They are not known to be aggressive, but they prioritize the needs of the colony. This implies that it is not normal for a termite to bite you, but they can if frightened.
Though having one crawls on you could leave you feeling disgusted. But then termites bites are no danger to humans. They would prefer to tunnel into your property and eat through your wooden pieces of furniture unnoticed.
It’s advised to keep your family away from these insects. A bite might not be harmful, infestations can cause allergic reactions or asthma attacks.
Can Flying Termites Get into your House?
Yes. These swarmers from colonies fly around and get in through an opened door or window; they get trapped indoors after appearing and fly around looking for a way out.
As earlier said, termites are attracted to light; they can be enticed by the light inside and congregate around them seemingly through a near open or loosely sealed window and doors and end up inside.
Termites are amazing creatures. They have about four castes which include: workers, soldiers, the king and queen termites, and lastly the alates or commonly known as the flying termites.
These flying termites are saddled with the responsibility of reproducing and starting new colonies. This is known as swarming. They emerge from buildings, trees, or soil in large numbers during the spring or summer to find mates. Male and female alates pair up, burrow into the ground, and then raise young to establish their colonies.
Also, we learned the extent of harm a termite bite can cause. Termite bites are not dangerous but it could lead to harmful allergic reactions or asthma.
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