How to spot termites during termite swarming season

Published on 7 May 2021
termites alates during swarming season

Different types of termites exist, and it is important to know how to differentiate them in order to better act during their extermination. Indeed, termites are categorized into 3 distinct casts: the soldierswhich protect their colony -, the workerswhich eat the wood and feed the rest of the colony – and the reproductive ones – which have wings and fly away to find a mate and create a new colony.

How to differentiate winged termites (or alates) from flying ants?

People often mistake flying ants for winged termites (also called alates or swarmers). These termites are the only one with wings, and they leave their nest once a year to find a mate to start a brand-new colony. Their wings will break off once they have found a new area for the very new colony. The swarming period depends on the termite specie, the State you live in and the weather.
Find out about the most damaging termite families here.



Even though
flying ants and alates can look very similar, there are some differences. When you look closely, ants have a quite thin and narrow waist whereas termites have a large one. Also, termites’ antennae are rather straight compared to ants’ elbowed antennae. And termites have two pairs of even-sized wings, but ants’ wings are of unequal size.

alates swarmers termites
differences between termites and ants

How do termites spread?

Termites spread during the swarming season, when alates leave their nest to mate with other alates. Within a few days, termites can spread about 1 block from the epicenter and in every direction. They start their new colony by establishing a convenient setting. They spread by looking for wood, so they eat wooden structures and build tunnels through them. Termites are always looking for food and feed themselves with all products that contain cellulose such as furniture, boxes, books, etc. Subterranean termites tunnels are found in the foundations and walls of houses. You can notice mud trails from the construction of tunnels, that is one of the signs that subterranean termites are invading your home.

The different swarming seasons according to the termite species

Depending on the termite species, the swarming seasons differ. For the subterranean termites, their swarming season begins in the spring. Dampwood termites swarm during summer and drywood termites swarm during late summer or early fall. Swarming seasons happen when temperatures are warm, so it depends on the State you live in, and of course the termite specie.

How to detect termites in homes?

As said before, subterranean termites leave trails of mud, which can be found behind your walls, in cracks in door jams or walls, and the wood can also sound hollow – when you tap on it –, since termites consume wood cellulose and eat from the inside. You can also find holes in the wood, or even hear some noises in your walls, which means that the termites are eating their way through the wood. Furthermore, during the swarming season when alates leave their nest looking for another one to create a new colony, they break off their wings. So, it is highly possible to find wings inside or outside your home. Look for these signs and contact a pest control service as soon as possible to avoid any costly damage and to get rid of termites.

termites mud tunnels

How to protect your house from termites?

When they are looking for a new nest to create a new colony, termites search for a humid environment. For this reason, you need to avoid any humidity or moisture near your accommodation, otherwise they will be drawn to the humidity and settle down. The moisture can come from pipe leak, or deficient gutters which need to be fixed. Avoid storing any wood – firewood, lumber, cardboard, newspapers – along your house structure, because termites are attracted to timber and feed themselves with this material. Another tip to protect your house from termites, is to have an annual pest inspection by professionals, to keep your home safe and clean from any termite invasion.