All About Termite Wings

Today’s article will be about termite wings so it will be easier for you to recognize different type of termites in your home. Every home owner shrivel at termite infestations as they know that these minute creatures can create lots of damage and problems to their home. Termites are called silent destroyers as they are detritivores or detritus feeders which feed on dead plants, trees and dead parts of living trees.

They thus can easily hide and thrive in your home or yard without showing any signs of immediate damage. As all termites consume cellulose-based plant materials, no matter what the construction of your home is, it provides a great meal to termite infestations!

Though so small in size, measuring between a cm to a few mm in length, a termite’s mouth can easily tear pieces of woody material to cause expensive property damage. Not only your home furniture and timber, even your house foundation, shelves and books form a great meal to termites!

Types of termites

There are different types of termites. The subterranean termites build elaborate tunnel systems and tunnels as homes to help them access above-ground food sources. The dry wood termites live in the wood they consume and can end up infesting your home walls and furniture. Then there are the winged reproductives which produce the colony offsprings after swarming the colony at fixed times of the year

termite wings

These colonies have both a black or brown king and queen with wings about half an inch long. They also have hundreds of secondary reproductive which help lay eggs and expand their colony. The % inch long workers are wingless and white. They are however sterile and usually found hidden in infested wood.

Termite wings are a sign of a mature termite colony as it’s only when the colony matures that they develop wings. These termites can thus be seen around windows and doors, especially near sources of light as they are highly attracted to light. This is why they are exceptionally active during spring time Once they mate, they look for a new breeding spot to start a new colony and in their way, end up spreading their infestations through various locations. Make sure to read our guide on what kills termites.

Signs of a termite infestation

You know you have a termite infestation when:

  • You find discarded termite wings from swarmers on window sills and in spider webs. However remember that a swarm may be a cause for concern, but is not a guarantee of an infestation. Moreover, the risk of an active infestation in your house is higher if you see termites existing from the walls, porches or foundation.
  • You notice cracked or bubbling paint or frass or termite droppings. Frass resembles sawdust or coffee grounds, are usually hexagonal in shape and is colored based on wood type. Sometimes these poop’s serve as a defense mechanism for termites by sealing their colony galleries from intruders. These droppings are usually found in mounds or trails.
  • You notice a temporary swarm of winged inspects in your home or in the soil surrounding your home, around stumps, firewood or mulch. As these insects are attracted to light, you can find them near the windows, doors, lamps and other external light sources.
  • The wood in your house sounds hollow on tapping and because of its honeycomb interior. As its smooth exterior conceals this evidence, using a screwdriver to tap the wood for its sound or bumping it with a vacuum cleaner to find any breakage helps you find out all feeding areas of termites.
  • The presence of live termites. The inspector will look for live termites in and round your home. It’s however difficult to spot termites if they are not warming as they tend to remain in their colonies, tunnels and wood without showing any exterior damage.
  • You notice mud tubes on wooden spaces, crawl spaces, support piers, floor joists, foundation members and exterior walls. They contain tiny dry soil particles and are about the diameter of a pencil or bigger.

Worker termites use the tubes to travel from their underground colonies to their home alias feeding ground. You can open these tubes to look for worker termites which are creamy white in appearance.

How to protect your home from termites

With termites forming a constant threat to your home security, there are some steps you can take to protect your home from them. Your house basically needs to be properly maintained. So you need to eliminate all moisture conditions and termite food sources from your home. This means you need to repair all the leaking faucets, water pipes and AC unis, maintain the cleanliness of gutters and downspouts and divert any water source from your house foundation.

termites kinds

Throw away any standing water you find on the roof and keep all vents clear and open. Work at diverting water from your house foundation and seal all the entry points around utility lines and pipes.  All the extra plant cover and wood mulch should be removed along with termite food sources like stumps and debris near your home and by keeping all your firewood and lumber away from the foundation or crawl space.

Make sure your house wood does not contact the soil and check all the decks and wooden fences for defense. Though small, all these steps go a long way into making your home a less attractive target for termites. In addition to all this, you need to have a professional inspect your home for termites annually.

Difference between swarming ants and reproductive termites

  • Swarming ants look like an ant with wings with its three distinct body parts, the head, abdomen and thorax. Swarmina termites don’t have three distinct body Darts: they have only a head and a lona body.
  • While ants have elbowed antennae, the flying reproductive termites have straight antennae.
  • While both the termites and ants have four wings, they are not obvious when at rest as their wings are folded against the body top. Termite swarmers however have four equal termite wings while the ant swarmers’ front wings are longer than the rear wings.

If you find swarmers

Swarmers found outdoors don’t usually pose a problem to your home. However it’s always better to be on the safer side and call your pest control office for a free inspection. Bug sprays are not necessary as these swarming reproductive don’t live long and do you no harm. They just swarm and mate after which the mated female termite breaks off her wings and borrows into the soil to try and start a new colony.

She however dies if she falls on your floor. So while indoor swarmer’s are not a problem, they do indicate an existing problem! If the termites or their wings are located in an area to be cleaned, clean up all evidence in a clear and clean bag. This helps find out what termite infestation you have so that it can be eradicated using the right treatment.

Favorable conditions for termite swarms

Termite swarms are triggered by rain and high humidity levels, and occur across various termite species. However it’s based on the stage of their life cycle that a termite can fly. They usually fly at night using lights as meeting spots. While most termites having wings only mate, the winged dry wood termites only damage your family’s home.

termite wings

The presence of dozens of termite wings or termite swarmers in your home indicate trouble and a big problem. However if you find only one or two of them on the window sill or on the floor near vents, it may not be a big problem. It’s always better to leave these signs or allIpieces of evidence’ alone so that your termite control service company can take a look and serve you better at eradicating the termites.

The location of winged termites, its number and type are important at helping the pest control company evaluate the infestation and even tell them if the termite colony is young and weak or old and strong.

Checking for termite activity

You need some equipment to go inspecting for termite activity. You need some coveralls and a good flashlight and screwdriver or pocket knife. Carefully examine all the potential trouble spots, even though it means you may have to crawl into crawl spaces. While swarmers and their shed termite wings indicate termite activity, you need to locate exposed shelter tubes and damaged wood as part of a complete termite inspection.

Subterranean termites are generally found at or near ground level and at times may also be found above first floor level. You can look for termite damage using an ice pick, knife or a screwdriver to probe the wood. Make sure you check both the exterior and interior foundation surfaces, especially where the construction wood is on or near the soil. It’s always better to start your inspection in the basement with a bright flashlight to look for mud tubes and signs of swarmer activity.

how does termite wings looks like

Also inspect all the sub floors, supporting piers, basement window frames, support posts and wood under porches. All areas where the concrete joins the wooden structure like steps or slabs need special attention. Also check any wood construction there is in the basement and crawl space, and all hollow blocks and cracks there are in expansion joints and cement or brick construction. Don’t forget to check the scrap wood on the exterior, fence posts, old tree shrimps and the exterior frames of basement windows.

If necessary, it’s better to enlist a professional pest control operator to locate your sterile infestation and to help eradicate it. They will examine your property and use the right plan to eradicate them without any more damage caused to your home or business. Remember that you needn’t panic or worry if you find termites in your structure as this is not an immediate emergency. The rate of damage induced here is very slow.

Fun facts about termites

  • Termites do not fly much. They fly only once, and that too not very well. They generally fly a few feet to a few yards above the ground. It’s when they reach the ground that they break off their termite wings.
  • They however produce pheromones when they locate food. These pheromones relay messages which only the intended receivers can detect. The pheromones thus create invisible trails for others to easily follow to reach the food source and their nest.
  • Though termites feed on your furniture and wood, they rely on protozoa in their gut to digest the wood cellulose. The cellulose is digested into simple sugars like glucose for increased body energy levels. This protozoa breaks down the cellulose using the help of hundreds of species of bacteria, which in turn depend on each other to survive.
  • Termite workers always stay in their tunnels to travel. In fact, they have to build tunnels to make their trip. This is because they can survive for only a few hours if the workers’ termites end up separated from their mud tunnels.
  • The queen chooses her soldier termites by releasing a chemical cue to imitate the physical changes worker termites undergo to become a soldier.