Entomologists have estimated that flying insects may have come around nearly 300 million years ago. Flying insects are the only invertebrates that developed wings for flight. One of the 25 different categories of these flying insects is the winged termite, or Order Isoptera.
Often confused with flying ants, termite swarmers are flying termites. Another name commonly associated with termite swarmers is “winged reproductives.” These termites have one queen, one king, and secondary reproductives ranging in the hundreds in their colonies.
Identifying Flying Termites
Whereas flying ants will have three distinct body parts, and look literally like an ant with wings, termite swarmers will have the appearance of a head followed by two long wings, twice as long as the body, and distinctively larger at the base than up by the head. Moreover, the antennas on these insects are straight, not elbowed like the flying ant.
Flying termites go through a gradual metamorphosis, from egg to nymph to adult. When a swarm of winged termites are together, they are just starting out as adult females and males. The normal swarming season for termites begins in early March when the temperature begins to increase. It is during this weather that termites begin their social season, and they can be seen in swarms.
They will go off in pairs (this makes up the king and queen) to start their own colonies. Once they settle on a location, their wings will fall off, and they will begin reproducing.
Flying Termites are a Sign of Local Termite Activity
So, while flying termites outside a home, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have infested as of yet. These winged termites are attracted to light, so a swarm may not mean anything more than their interest in the atmosphere. Only when there have been repeated swarms in the neighborhood over the course of a couple of years is there a high chance there are termite nests nearby.
However, when the wings of a termite are found near a home, then there is a higher probability of their infestation. That being said, it will take years before any damage is actually done to the wood of the home.