Termite alates have special adaptations for their role as reproductives. They have:
- Thick exoskeleton (to prevent drying out)
Alates leave the colony through flight slits to find a mate and start a new colony.
Most alates will die before they find a mate. Once they find a mate, the pair must find a suitable shelter with access to food and water.
Termite alates that find a mate and suitable shelter will become the kings and queens of new colonies.
Each termite alate has four wings. We can estimate the number of termite alates by counting the wings found in the traps and dividing them by four.
Different types of termites have different wing venation patterns. Subterranean termites have two parallel veins along the top of the wing with NO small cross veins between them. Drywood termites also have two parallel veins along the top of the wing, but they DO have small cross veins between them. Drywood termite wings also have a reflective surface, which might resemble oil on water. Subterranean termite wings are dull.
Winged Ants vs. winged termites
Ants also have winged reproductives. A winged ant has “bent” antennae, large forewings and smaller hindwings, no wing stubs and a narrow constriction at the beginning of the abdomen called the “petiole”. A winged termite has straight, beadlike antennae, wing stubs, a wide abdomen (no “waist”), and wings of about the same size and appearance.