Image: Burak Kebapci / Pexels

Know your enemy before you destroy them. That’s our motto when it comes to pests. Those flying insects that swarm around fluorescent lights in your home during hot and humid nights are called Alates. We’ve dug around for more info on them and have discovered methods (tried and tested!) to get rid of them.


The term Alates refers to insects with wings or with a wing-like structure. So a number of insects fall under this description, two common ones in Singapore are flying ants and flying termites, but the ones you see regularly swarming under street lights or even the lights in your own home are flying termites.

We know. We get shivers up our spine when we hear it too.

Here’s how you can differentiate them:

Flying termites

Description: Generally harmless. They don’t bite, or chew wood because during this stage of their life, they’re swarming to mate and form new colonies. This is the only time you’ll see termites flying. After the deed is done, their wings drop, the males die, and the females burrow in mud or warm and damp areas to lay eggs. They are commonly seen during hot and humid seasons, especially just after it rains. 

Flying ants

Description: They bite. They rarely come indoors and swarm, and if you do see one, it’s probably a fluke. If they do swarm you should check your home for possible ant infestations.


Flying ants: Because they rarely swarm indoors, just crush or pick off the one ant you see roaming about in your home. If you see a swarm of them, spray them with insecticide and call pest control.

Flying termites: Extremely attracted to light, they swarm under streetlights and your home’s fluorescent lights.

  • Bug zapper: You can get a bug zapper and hang it at your window.
  • Pail of water: Hold a pail of water about 10cm away from the swarm that’s at a light source. The bright reflection on the water should attract the termites drowning them! You will have to hold it up for a while, but it works magnificently, and you can toss your termite-soup down the drain in about 30 minutes. (Build your arm muscles)


This story was originally published in Home and Decor. For more stories like this, head to

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