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                            This is a great (I mean a really spectacular!) video of Subterranean termites.
                            The video above shows what happens when a termite colony is broken open.
                            There are black winged  alates (some showing four wings), cream colored workers and
                            dark headed soldiers with mandibles.
                            We thank Burge Pest Control in Alameda, CA, for giving us their video to share with you.
                                   You may visit their site for more pictures: www.burgepest.com  - Look under their heading of "Pests"

Subterranean termite flyers (alates) are the same color as ants, but are easily distinguished:
 1.  All termites have broader necks than ants. Ants have a very thin 'pinched' neck. 

 2.  Flying termites have four wings stacked on top of each other. Ants have only two wings.
 3.  All termites have a bowed or arched antennae. Ants antennae are sharply bent or 'elbowed'.
 4.  All termite's antennae are beaded (similar to a string of pearls). Ants antennae look like wire.
 5.  Again, ALL termites, no matter the color, have broader necks than ants and no discernable waist. Ants have very thin 'pinched' necks and waists separating their body parts (head, body & butt).

1) Swarners                                                     2) Swarmers 

3) Swarmers                                                    4) A queen termite full of eggs


When you see winged termites, it means their colony has existed for at least two years. They may not have been in your house for two years, but the nest is probably three or four years old. These flyers usually swarm during springtime (sometimes twice a year); preferably after it has just rained and the sun is shining. They will swarm toward the highest light intensity, usually the sun; but, their direction is dictated by the wind. Although they have four wings, they are very poor flyers. Sometimes they will swarm at night. Again, they will choose the highest light intensity. It may be a streetlight; it may be a porch light or they may be attracted to light from a window. Hopefully, your window will not be open when they do. They have been known to penetrate screens (through and around them).
If they are in your home, they may swarm inside your house. Usually they come from windows, but don't bet on it. I remember an inspection where Subterranean termites were found in a subarea. The owner advised she didn't want to spend the money to eradicate them. This is a typical attitude whereby the termites are out of sight, so they are out of mind. The owner called me a few months later, advising the termites had ruined there dinner. Apparently, she had set the table for several dinner guests (a couple of the families had been invited from out of town) and, unfortunately, the termites chose this time to swarm. They came from the dining room window and all of them flew to the chandelier above the table. She had just set a large bowl of soup on the table and was serving her guests. 
Well, since termites are poor flyers, they were bumping into one another and falling from the chandelier and landing in everybody's soup. She said she had thousands of termites all over, above and around the table. This swarm ruined her party and she felt she needed to put up her guests at a hotel - after she took everyone out for dinner. They immediately fled the house and she dealt with the mess when she and her husband returned from dinner.
These winged termites do not eat your house. All these folks do is make love and have babies. They break off their wings (if they were not broken upon landing) choose up sides and find a cave. They begin a new life together. Thus, the cycle repeats itself. They may start a new family in the same home they came from. The queen may live well over 30 years and she may lay up to 20,000 or more eggs in a 24 hour time span (depending on which entomologist you want to believe). A termite colony matures in two to four years and may have anywhere from 2,000 to 365,000 members.
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