Flying ants vs. termites: What to look for

Many people wonder about the difference between flying ants vs termites because both insects look very similar. Flying carpenter ants, though, have a pinched waist, three distinct body sections, curved (“elbowed”) antennae, and two sets of differently sized wings that are pointed: large front wings and smaller back wings.

Winged termites, also called swarmers, have straight antennae that are shorter than an ant’s and look like they are made out of a bunch of tiny balls. Termites also have a straight, waistless body, and two sets of wings that are equal in length, rounded on the ends, and twice the size of its body. Termites fly (or swarm) in the spring when it’s warm and rainy, while ants fly during the summer. When ant and termite swarmers mate, they lose their wings. 

Flying Ants vs. Termites: Damage

The damage that ants and termites leave behind can look alike at first glance, though there are some distinct differences that can be difficult to notice unless you know what to look for. Here are a few things that can help you determine which pest is bugging you: 

Flying ants

  • Carpenter ants do not actually eat wood (or materials like foam insulation); they prefer soft or rotted wood to create their tunnels and nest galleries by hollowing it out. Your home may have water damage if you have an ant infestation in your home since leaking plumbing is a big attraction.
  • When ants shed their wings, they can be found on windowsills, though remember their wings are of dissimilar size, so it’s another indication that you may have a problem with flying ants vs termites.
  • A small pile of sawdust will be located just outside carpenter ant tunnels, which can be easily missed unless you’re on the lookout. 

Flying termites

  • Discarded termite wings can be found near closed windows and doors, too, though their wings are different from an ant’s. Termites also don’t actually shed their wings; they twist them off because they will never need them again when they mate.
  • Pencil-sized mud tubes can be found wherever the ground meets your house or near any other possible food source like a tree or shed.
  • Wood damage is found below and behind surfaces like walls and floors, though a telltale sign can be tiny holes in walls with debris gathered around the holes.

If you see these insects flying inside your home, you likely have an ant or termite nest inside your home that must be treated immediately. Termites prefer to hide, so if you see insects crawling around, they may be ants. Termites and ants don’t hang out together, either, so you probably just have one or the other of these pests.

Stop in at any of Bug & Weed Marts’ five Valley locations to see how we can help you get rid of flying ants, termites, or any number of other pests.