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Flying black ants and alates

The Difference Between Flying Black Ants and Alates:

When the humitdity is high termites can be found swarming. This swarming does not mean that they will attack your home and eat it like seen in a cartoon, but be aware, their swarming is more secretive and slower in action and can be more permanent.

Flying termites are called alates, and differ from flying ants in many ways. Below is a drawing to help with the three main differences.

The smaller differences are:


The procedure followed by alates is well defined:

As termites need 65% humidity to survive, the alates will only leave the nest on warm humid days or evenings. When they leave it is in mass, and can be compared to smoke coming from the nest with thousand upon thousand flying at once. They drift with the wind currents until they land, most of the time after crashing.

When on the ground they snap their wings off and the female emits a pheromone (sent) to attract a male. Once a pair have located each other they find the nearest place to dig into the soil, mate and start a new colony.

The process works well in the wild. Usually the alates will crash into a tree and end up forming a nest at the base of the tree (a ready made food source). However when a building (which is much wider than a tree and more termites do crash into it) is involved, the termites usually end up under external concrete areas which provide food shelter from predators like black ants. The big down side is that the building becomes the ready made food source!

High risk areas like atriums, indoor gardens, court yards and alike, are prime areas for alates to start a nest and are usually within the building.

The main concerns are:


  1. You should have had an up to date termite perimeter treatment carried out by Stewarts, to help prevent the new nest from starting or entering the building.
  2. You should also have Stewarts carry out regular termite inspection in case termite alates form a nest in the building within the perimeter treatment.

Both the above are a minimum first step in trying to protect buildings from termite alates invading and starting a nest on the property. Stewarts have numerous control methods that can be used for termites.

So if you think you have found alates, or have any other concerns, phone Stewarts on (08) 9274 8444 or 13BUGS (13-2847).

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