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Winged Termites
Flying Reproductives

Return to Termites Page    Borate Termite Protection    Chemicals for Termites 

Winged reproductives produce the offspring in the colony and swarm at certain times of the year.  Colonies can have both primary reproductives (one king and one queen), and hundreds of secondary reproductives to assist in egg laying and colony growth.Winged Reproductive Flying Termite Picture
To tell the difference between a winged reproductive termite and a swarming ant, look at the swarmer's body shape, antennae and length of wings.

  • An swarming ant has three distinct body parts: head, abdomen and thorax.  In other words, it looks like an ant - with wings.  Swarming termites do not have three distinct body parts.  Look at the termite picture above.  The insect seems to have only a head and a long body.
  • All ants have "elbowed" antennae.  Flying reproductive termites have straight antennae.
  • Swarming termites and swarming ants both have four wings, although this is not apparent when the insect is at rest because their wings fold back against the top of the body.  Termite swarmers have four wings of equal length.  Ant swarmers front wings are longer than their rear pair of wings.

If termite swarmers (winged reproductives) are found inside of your home, it can be a sign of trouble.  When there are dozens of swarmers or their wings located indoors, you probably have a problem.  If only one or two are found on a window sill or on the floor beneath a vent, the chance of a problem is far less.  In either case, try to leave the "evidence" undisturbed.  Your termite control service company can give a more precise inspection and better service when they are given a good look at visible signs found in your home.  Try to follow these guidelines when swarmers are found:

  • It is not necessary to buy a bug spray to kill indoor swarming termites.  These swarming reproductives will not live for long and (if they are indeed subterranean termites) they can do you no harm.  After swarming and mating, the mated female must burrow into soil to attempt to start a new colony.  If she lands on your floor, she will simply die.  Indoor swarmers will not cause a termite problem but they can be a sign of an existing problem!
  • When swarmers are found outdoors, it is not usually a problem for your home.  To be safe and feel more secure, call your licensed PCO for a free inspection.
  • Try not to disturb indoor evidence.  In far too many cases, pest control technicians are called after the swarmers and their wings have been swept up and thrown away.  This does not help the PCO, who needs all possible evidence to evaluate the problem.  The type of termite, number of swarmers and location of winged termites are important pieces of information.  In some cases, the actual size of the swarmers can tell your PCO if the termite colony is very young and weak or older and strong.
  • If winged reproductives or their wings are in an area that must be cleaned, keep all evidence in a clean, clear bag.  In different parts of the United States there can be anywhere from two to four types of destructive termites.  Some types of termites require different or more thorough treatment and (most importantly!!) a different contract guarantee!

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