No one wants to find signs of bugs invading their home or business. Aside from seeing live insects, people might see insect wings, leg segments, or dead bugs. In all of those cases, you could still have some insects, like termites. A termite infestation is a likely reason for seeing insect wings on the floor or a window sill. Those wings most likely came from termites.

Read on to learn more about this odd part of termite life and why insect wings on the window sill are potentially a bad sign.

Termites – One Troubling Source of Insect Wings

Those wings reflect the end of a phase in the termite’s life cycle. Termites hatch from eggs, where they go through several stages of development. The end-stage is one of three adult forms – worker, soldier, or reproductive adult.

Workers and soldiers have wings, and they rarely, if ever, venture far from their nest. The winged bugs are males and females who go off in swarms to mate and start new colonies.

Don’t expect to see many of those reproductives after they drop their wings. Instinct drives these insects to dark, inaccessible places where they can breed out of the reach of their many predators.

If you find a collection of insect wings on a windowsill or the floor, bear in mind that it might just be ants. Some ants also drop their wings during part of their lifecycle. If you see any kind of insect wings collecting in your home, consider taking some samples to a local extension agent for identification.

About Termites

Termites belong to the order Isoptera, which is a group containing about 2,000 species. Like most insects, termites have wings but only some of them and only for part of their lives.  The source of those wings you found at home is something we’ll come back to in a minute.

A termite colony contains several types of adult insects. Termite soldiers and workers are blind. They make up almost all of the adult population. All of the adults have a few things in common:

  • Their only real defense from humans and most other predators is their secretive nature.
  • They hide out in walls or floors or underground. Regardless, they tend to like places that aren’t exposed and aren’t too dry.
  • They can’t bite you. Soldiers can bite hard enough to be somewhat dangerous to larger insects. Soldiers may bite you, but it won’t hurt.
  • Sending out swarms of fertile males and females to create new colonies.

The fertile termites are the ones with wings. When the winged males and females appear, they don’t hang around. Workers force them out of the nest.

Once outside the nest, these winged termites face many challenges. Several insect species, frogs, lizards, and even small rodents will eat them. They have no real defense against predators either until they colonize your home or business.

Why do Termites Drop Their Wings?

You might ask, “Why do termites drop their wings when hardly any other insects do that?” Like other insects, termites lay eggs. Nymphs emerge from the eggs and grow rapidly into larvae. The larvae molt several times as they grow, ending in their winged, adult form. 

Once they leave the nest, they make for cover as fast as they can. They fly away from their nest and look for damp, woody, and dark locales to establish new colonies. So, damaged wood at the corner of your house, an old cracked wooden door frame, or a beam supporting the porch all look attractive to the termites.

These groups of flying termites, sometimes called termite swarmers, rarely go far from the original nest. Upon arrival at a likely nest site, the males and females gather and pair up. This is when the termites drop their wings and begin the last phase of their life cycle. A male and female who paired up will become the king and queen of a new colony. Sometime later, the cycle just described repeats itself.

Eventually, that new colony will start to spawn its termite swarms, and the cycle repeats. In establishing nests and laying eggs, termites consume lots of wood pulp and dig tunnels in wood. This is potentially disastrous for any home or business with a wood frame or wood furniture.

Colonization

Termites are poor fliers, but they can see reasonably well. What do they look for? First, they look for a source of light.  This light source may be inside your house or on the porch. Sometimes, at night, termites swarm around porch lights and street lamps. Because these swarms look like midges, flies, or ants, you might not know they are termites.

Because termites are clumsy fliers, they don’t tend to fly very far from the nest. If a termite swarm appears, it is probably from a nest relatively close by.

Other Signs of Termites

Wings are one likely sign of a termite infestation but not the only one. Droppings that look like sawdust are another sign of termite infestation. Look for those droppings around wooden furniture, in corners, or on window sills and floors.

Finally, worker termites build mud tubes that connect the outside of a building with the wood structures inside. A small grey tube about the diameter of a pencil is one indicator, depending on where it is. Termites are good at finding their way into walls, floors, and ceilings, so any tiny opening into the home is a risk factor.

Look for wings not only around windows, but in doorways, in cobwebs, and around baseboards. If you see dust, collections of insect wings, or dead termites, call a professional exterminator.

Call BioTherm Green

Termites can cause some expensive damage over time. And, by the time you see winged termites or just their wings, termites have likely been in your walls, floor, or ceiling for years. If you see evidence of termites outside, they may not stay out long. Termites are good at getting into homes through tiny cracks in the foundation, under doors, or in eaves.

If you have termites in your home or business, you don’t want to delay treatment. We have the expertise to diagnose the problem and treat it effectively with state-approved pesticides.