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Everything You Should Know About Flying Termites

We excessively hear about termites invading home and causing structural damages every year. This because termites are insidious creatures that can create their nests both above and underground in order to gain access to your home and cause costly property damage.

Why should you worry about flying termites? If you see flying termites around or inside your home, it really should act as a warning sign for 2 potential threats:

  1. You may already have an existing termite problem
  2. Your home may be at risk of potential termite infestation

Think you've spotted a flying termite in your home? Get in contact with Rentokil today to find out how to protect your home from termite damage in the future.

Do Termites Fly?

Yes, they can, but not all of them can fly. Termites don’t fall into the flying insect category like wasps and/or mosquitoes do as only a small set of termites can fly, and only do so for a short period of time before losing their wings.

A termite colony is split into groups known as castes. Each caste has a particular role in the colony. The 4 castes of a termite colony are:

  • Termite king & queen
  • Workers
  • Soldiers
  • Alates / flying termites / winged termites (also known as laron by Indonesians)

Out of the termite castes, it is only the alates which can fly, being the only ones equipped with wings. These are the only termites which are sexually developed and are the future kings and queens of the next season’s termite colonies. The flying patterns and habits of termites are known as swarms.

Learn more about termite species here

When Do Flying Termites Come Out?

Flying termites attracted to light. We've all seen this very often in everyday life – after a rain shower, we found that a group flying insect start to swarm closer to sources of light like street lamps or your home's fluorescent lights.

After couple minutes, this group of flying insects are discarded their wings and start to crawl without their wings around on the floor for an unspecified time before they eventually die.

While it's not easy to spot if you have termites at home, flying termites are one of the clearest signs of termite problem and they could mean trouble to you and your home! When winged termites emerge from the nest to take flight, all of a sudden, you are presented with a very obvious, and not at all subtle, sign of termites.

Why Do Termites Swarm?

Termites swarm to breed and start new colonies. A termite swarm marks the beginning of the termite life cycle.

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Source: Rentokil Australia deBugged Blog, Flying Termites: What You Need to Know

During this period the sexually developed male and female winged termites leave their nests and take flight. This is often referred to as ‘nuptial flight’ and is also common and practiced by other insects such as ants.

After leaving their nest, the winged termites congregate in the air (swarms) and mate with termites of the same species from other colonies. After they have successfully mated the termites land, shed their wings and start the process of creating a new colony.

What Do Flying Termites Look Like?

Many people often mistaken distinguish the difference between flying ants and termites because both insects look very similar.

According to Rentokil Australia there are a number of ways to differentiate between flying ants and termites. Flying termites appear in a range of colors depending on the species. Generally, flying termites appear in the same beige/tan color as the other termite castes. They have two antennae which are often straight with a slight curve and have two sets of wings which are equal in length and white and translucent in color with a veiny appearance.

Termites, in general, can be defined by their body shape. Both flying termites and wingless termites have a thick body made up of one part. Termites do not have a constriction between their thorax and abdomen like ants do.

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On close examination, you can easily tell the difference, as shown in the infographic and description below:


  • Termites have a straight ‘waist’ between the thorax and abdomen
  • Ants have a pinched waist


  • Termites have a blunt end to their abdomen
  • Most ant species have a sharp end which can sting or spray toxic chemicals


  • Termites have straight antennae
  • Ants have bent antennae

Wing length of alates

  • Termite front and rear wings are of equal length and longer than the body
  • The front wings of ants are a similar length to their body and longer than the rear pair


  • The bodies of termites workers and soldiers are beige or tan colored in most species and the alates are brown
  • Ants are mostly red or black

How to Get Rid of Flying Termites?

As flying termites make up only a small percentage, the best way to get rid of flying termites is to exterminate all of the termites in general.

Get rid of termites from your property will not only deal with flying termites but also reduce and limit the spread, as well as the potential for future termite colonies in your area. Rentokil offers an anti termite treatment program for your home and business premises, including:

  • Termite baiting treatment
  • Termite monitoring
  • Liquid termiticide treatment

If you are uncertain about whether the flying insects that you see are flying termites or flying ants, contact Rentokil to help you identify and protect your property from termites today.