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Written by: Stuart Steele

Have you noticed a number of winged or “flying ants” flying around in vast numbers in or around your neighbourhood and invading your property in the late afternoon and the evenings, especially after the recent summer downpours and thundershowers?

If you have noticed them, this sudden appearance of these swarming termites in flight is a normal occurrence this time of year, when it coincides with our summer rainfall season. As much as one may love nature, and the good insects such as termites can do for the environment by breaking down old and dead trees or fallen branches, these insects can become destructive, and it can be very costly when it comes to the homeowner or a building Landlord due to the way they can easily access your home and cause much damage to wooden fittings such as skirting boards, wooden floors, wooden door frames or wooden window frames, and the like. They have even been seen going as far up as into one’s roof and destroying roof trusses, and if left, could cause a potential roof collapse.

Why are these termites flying around?

The winged termites one sees flying around are what is called “Alate” termites, which simply put are- future queen and king winged termites. These termites emerge out and take flight out of established termite colonies, and take their annual nuptial flights in their millions from various colonies in the hope of starting new colonies. Once landed, the termites crawl around, clip their wings off with their mouthparts, and the males start finding females to procreate, and from there, they start tunnelling down into the soil to start a new colony. The reason why there are so many individuals that take flight is due to their high mortality rate, and how few actually successfully start new colonies, of which many termites don’t survive due to predators, or the termites themselves not finding soil at all, and will simply die within approximately an hour after landing.

One usually sees a lot of the termites flying around and being attracted to lights, so keep an eye out for areas where there is night lights outside, as this may be a point where individuals may start to create a nest within that vicinity of one’s property.

To learn more about subterranean termites, read more on our termite page here

A Termite Field study

I recently went up to the Limpopo province and stayed on a farm for a week, and witnessed first-hand this annual nuptial flight of the subterranean termite. It happened only on one night that I was there after some very good rainfall during the afternoon, and what I witnessed that evening was almost something out of a horror movie, some may see it. I came to a night light in the parking area of the farm, as well as a light of a nearby farmhouse, and witnessed tens of thousands of Alate flying ants swarming around the lights in flight, with them flying in their thousands and landing, as one can see in this picture, where thousands have clipped off their wings

I then had a look around the farm area to find the source/s of these termites, and found two really large subterranean termite mounds on the farm, one approximately 200 metres away from the night lights, and found another active mound almost 1 km away.

The first one was large, it stood around 8 feet in height, and around 3 metres in diameter at the base, where the termites were flying out of the lower chambers as shown below.

The second termite colony/ mound was extremely large, it measured around 10 feet in height at its highest point, and was just on 5 metres at the base from end to end. Near the base of this colony was also chambers where the termites were taking flight from it

Here are a few of the Alate termites taking flight from this large colony:

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If you do suspect you have termites on your property, and would like a professional assessment done, please contact us today for a no obligation free quote, and assessment by one of our trained sales representatives.

Remember “One Flick and They’re Gone”

Flick Pest Control is here to provide a solution for any pest query you may need help with, or for any other pest control solution, advice or concerns you may encounter. Give us a ring on 087 056 1021, drop us an email on enquiries@flickpest.co.za or drop us a comment on our blog or social media platforms.

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