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The majority of insects have wings in their adult stage and move around mainly by flying. However insects like cockroaches, have wings but are reluctant flyers and mainly use crawling as a form of transportation. Termites and ants are flyers, but only for a brief time in their reproductive stages during their breeding season.

The flying insects described on this page reflect those referred to as pests.

Insect characteristics

Most insects go through a life cycle that consist four stages:egg, larva (eg caterpillar, maggot — which can be crawling insect pests), pupa (often sealed in a cocoon) and adult, which usually has wings.

Insects have an exoskeleton with a three-part body, consisting of a head, a thorax with six legs, and an abdomen.

Flying insects come equipped with either one to two sets of wings which are attached to their thorax.

Find out about mosquitoes, their bites, and the diseases they cause

Discover the different types of stored product insects that can fly

Flying Insects as Pests

Flying insects can be unwelcome in the human environment for a number of reasons:

  • bites and stings cause pain and swelling;
  • bites can transmit a large number of serious bacterial, viral and parasitic diseases to humans and domestic animals;
  • allergens produced by infestations in the home and other buildings can cause asthma;
  • contamination of food, water and surfaces by mechanical transmission of diseases;
  • feeding on, spoiling and contaminating food products in storage;
  • feeding on and damaging fabric products such as clothing and furniture;
  • damage to wooden structures and products.

Find out why termites fly, then they fly, and the threat they can cause to your home

Discover how woodworm spread and why they target your home

Flying Ants

Ants are generally more of a nuisance than a danger, though some species do bite and sting. Most species of ant swarm during a short breeding season, triggered by temperature rise in spring or rains.

The nest produces large numbers of winged male and female ‘reproductives’ that swarm to pair up and breed.

This rarely causes a problem as they rapidly disappear and are easy to clear up if they appear indoors. In the US, however, carpenter ants can damage wooden structures and foam insulation.

Learn how to spot the signs of ants in your home

Find out how to get rid of and how to prevent ants


House flies, blow flies and flesh flies visit sites contaminated with faeces and other filth to feed and breed, picking up organisms that cause disease and carrying it to food and surfaces in homes and businesses. They are both a nuisance and a health risk, which for businesses can mean economic and reputational loss and litigation.

Other species of fly, such as horse flies, and known for their biting habits, as well as midges and gnats. Biting flies generally stay near water or damp places. The highland midge is a nuisance in many rural areas across the northern hemisphere, producing an irritating bite. Blackflies, sandflies and horse flies, however, bite and can also transmit diseases.

Learn how to spot the signs of flies in your home and/or business

Find out how to get rid of flies and the different treatments we offer


Mosquito bites can produce itching, pain and swelling around the bite for several days. Generally it is the female mosquitoes which require a blood meal to survive, seeking animals and humans to feed on.

A relatively small number of mosquitoes also transmit pathogenic viruses, bacteria and parasites that can produce serious illness in humans such as malaria and dengue fever. These diseases mainly affect poor areas in developing countries or remote rural areas, but some such as Dengue are rapidly spreading worldwide in urban areas.

Learn how to get rid of mosquitoes, and how to prevent them

Find out about the different diseases you can catch from insects such as malaria and the plague

Stored Product Insects

A wide variety of insect species can infest food from the field to the consumer in every stage of the process. They reduce the quantity of saleable goods, causing economic losses to farmers and businesses. This causes reputational damage by affecting the quality of goods. Flying insects that affect stored food include weevils and other beetles (which have thousands of species), moths? and fruit flies.

Find out about how stored product insects can affect a business operating in the food industry

Learn about the different species of stored product insects

Flying Termites

Termite colonies produce ‘reproductives’ that are temporarily winged during a short breeding season, and are often mistaken for both white ants and flying ants. Termite swarms usually appear at the start of a rainy season (early spring) when there is less risk of them dehydrating out of the nest.

The male and female reproductives, also known as alates, leave the colony and fly in swarms to find a mate. They pair up and drop to the ground, losing their wings in the process and crawl to find a suitable location to start a new colony. Large numbers of flying termites can invade gardens and inside buildings, attracted by lights at night.

Learn about the specific areas of your home you should check for termites

Termites Why My Home

Find out why your home is a prime location for termite activity

Think you might have a flying insect problem? Get in contact with Rentokil today.

Crawling insects

Find out more information on crawling insects such as cockroaches and spiders