Flying termites are called alates they are on a colonising flight to start a new termite colony. The colonising flight occurs during moderate temperatures and of high humidity.
The main times of year that termites are seen flying are November-December and March-April.
Many customers call our office in a panic when the flying termites start to occur. This s a normal occurrence and happens every year. Although this is a natural yearly event is can be quite alarming for some homeowners.
Where a homeowner gets a lot of flying reproductive termites around their home it can be a sign that there’s a termite colony close by.
There are termites all around us but unfortunately, we sometimes don’t notice them until it’s too late. The first sighting of termites for many people is when they fall through the walls inside their home.
Termites will silently eat the timbers behind the plasterboard and can go unnoticed for many months. This is just one reason why it’s so important to have an annual termite inspection carried out.
The only safe way to help protect your home from damaging termites is to have it inspected. A full termite barrier is also a very important part of protecting a home against termite attack.
But as for the winged termites, they won’t eat your home or at least not straight away. They need time to establish a new colony. This can take many years for a colony to be strong enough in numbers to attack a home.
The wildlife will eat the good majority of the termites. Birds, geckos, frogs and even lizards will all help to clean up the aftermath of a colonising flight.
What are Termites That Fly?
Alates or termites that fly are the reproductive termites that are responsible for starting and building a new colony.
Once the reproductives are fully winged they are then set to leave the main colony. Once termites leave the security of the main colony they are at their most vulnerable. This also puts the main colony at some degree of risk.
An opening is made in the timber to allow the reproductives to leave the main colony. With a termite species such as Coptotermes acinaciformis that are known for making populous nests in trees. The alates leave the colony from slits in the wood and bark.
The slits are known as “blow holes” or “flight cuts”, once the Alates have left the colony the tree calluses over the blowholes sealing the area from predators.
To the general public, the Alates are known as flying termites because for a short time flying is exactly what they do.
Why Do Termites Need Humidity?
Termites need moisture to survive without it their cuticle will dry out. The cuticle is the outer layer of a termite’s body. The cuticle is shed at each stage of the termite life cycle from nymph to adult. This is why the colonising flight happens during times of high humidity.
When the weather is humid the termites can last for much longer outside the confines of the nest. This gives two alates a Queens and King enough time to find each other and find a suitable nesting site.
When the weather is humid it matches the inside climate of the termite nest making it an ideal time to venture outside.
The alates cuticle is more sclerotised than that of the other castes within the colony. The cuticle has more chitin and this enables it to resist water loss better.
How long Can Alates live for?
Most of the reproductive termites or alates don’t live very long at all. In fact, most are eaten by predators during the flight. Many others are caught in spider’s webs and also eaten by geckos and lizards.
The odds on survival are really very slim and the odds on them making a nest in your home are even slimmer. The main nesting sites the alates are looking for are other trees that are suitable for them to breed.
Many people ask me how long will they live for and what can I do to stop them. The answer to this question is that most don’t live for very long and there’s nothing at all you can do about them.
The best course of action is to have a regular termite inspection of your home carried out by a professional inspector.
Will Flying Termites Damage My House?
The odds that a flying termite will damage your home is minimal, in fact, you’d have a better chance of winning the lotto.
As I’ve said earlier there first has to be both a King and Queen to start a new colony. And there also has to be a suitable nesting site. Without both of these very important aspects, a new colony will not survive.
What can you do to stop Termites That Fly?
There is nothing at all that anyone can do to stop termites from taking flight. The colonising flight has been going on since the first termite colony was produced.
The only thing a homeowner can do when the colonising flight is on is either watch it or go inside out of the way.
However many alates will be found on the ground the following day. Simply either sweep them up or get the blower and blow them away. And what’s left on the ground after that the Ants will happily eat.
How To Kill Flying Termites?
How to kill termites with wings is something I get asked a lot from my customers. The truth is most will die before they get a chance to even think about starting a new colony.
But if they become a real nuisance around the home you can simply spray them with any household pest spray.
A can of mortein or similar will kill termites, so if they become a problem for you make sure you have a can at hand.
There is no point in wasting money to hire a pest control company to kill termites with wings (Alates). Just let nature take its course and leave the local wildlife to polish them off.
Rather than waste money on hiring a pesty to kill them, put the money towards a termite inspection. And for some peace of mind have a regular annual pest control service carried out.
General pest control for cockroaches, Spiders, Ants, and Silverfish will certainly help to prevent alates from gaining access to a home. When a pest control service has been carried out the external of the home would be treated this at least gives some protection against termites during the colonising period.
Termites cause a huge amount of damage to Australian homes every year. But most of the damage caused could have been prevented with regular inspections.
Termites are a pest that needs to be taken seriously and a regular termite inspection is a must. But as far as flying termites go they pose no real threat to homes until a colony is well established.
Always use a professional termite company to carry out your termite inspections. A pest control company that has the use of thermal imaging camera technology is an advantage.
With the right advice and expertise termites can be managed to help keep your home termite free.