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Termite Alates

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Termite Alates

What is an Alate?

While Alate is a term broadly used for young flying insects, an “Alate” generally specifically refers to a termite born to fly. As the termites develop from a juvenile state their wings develop inside the safety of the termite nest and they are nourished and made ready for the perfect conditions for them to take to the air, creating the perfect means for an existing termite colony to propagate the creation of more termite colonies.

Termite Alate in Brisbane

Termite Alate in Brisbane


Insects with long thin translucent wings, which are swept back along the body when not in flight. 9mm - 12mm in total length. Typical Australian species are light brown in colour.

Time Of Year

Termite colonies will normally produce Alates in the springtime in readiness for the perfect conditions for them to take flight. As evolution has dictated, termite Alates have the best chance of surviving their exposure to the outside world during warm wet conditions, as a termites’ natural habitat inside the colony is warm and wet. In Queensland, Australia, this is normally the spring until early summer months of Sept - Dec. Most commonly Alates will take flight during storm events.

Termite Alate photographed after rain

Termite Alate photographed after rain

Formation Of New Colonies

The survival rate for Alates is immeasurably low. While a flight of Alates might number in the millions from a single colony, the challenge for an Alate is to fly quickly to find the perfect location to start a new colony AND find another Alate to mate with. The few lucky surviving breeding pairs then have to build the beginnings of a colony, have a water source and produce offspring. It is thought that while a number of breeding pairs might encounter initial success from each flight, the chances of them surviving to form a new colony is very low. Given the really poor odds, it is easy to see why the termite species depend on the release of millions of Alates in each attempt to propagate.


While the risk of Alates forming a new colony is so incredibly low, it is often the case that human timber constructions, be it a house, building, or something else are the foundations for these rare nests. As small as the cracks and gaps in building frames and joinery are, it might be enough for Alates to find shelter together to breed. In the perfect world of an Alate, such a man-made location would have a water source. This might be pooling rainwater, groundwater or sewage. Also perfect for the Alates is when a constant dripping tap or reticulated water leak supplies the moist environment that the termites like so much.

Brisbane Termite Alate on a tree

Brisbane Termite Alate on a tree

Localities Of Concern

The South-East corner of Queensland is considered to have some of the most conducive conditions for termites in the world. The combination of temperate climate and regular rains are ideal for termites and local species that have developed to make the most of these conditions. These species have developed to a size and appetite that make them a serious threat to timber homes and buildings. A termite colony left unchecked in the right conditions of a timber-framed home can do serious damage to the frame, structure, sheeting, and structural integrity of a home.

All of South East Queensland is under some level of threat of termites invading homes and buildings and creating a portfolio of unseen damage. The threat of termite Alates is considered strongest near existing colonies, reserves, bushlands, creeks, and freshwater sources. Rural and “leafy” suburbs are considered a higher risk than suburbs which are most densely built out.

Brisbane Termite Alate on a tree

Brisbane Termite Alate on a tree

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