How to Tell the Difference Between Termites and Flying Ants

How to Tell the Difference Between Termites and Flying Ants

How to Tell the Difference Between Termites and Flying Ants

Many homeowners believe that the first sign of a termite infestation is when they witness swarms of flying insects on their property. However, this is where it gets interesting. Not all swarming flyers are termites, as some of them are flying ants. There are both subtle and striking differences in their physical features of them. We have discussed more on these differences in a later part of this article.

Despite the variations, many homeowners find it difficult to discern between a termite and a flying ant. Under these circumstances, the ideal option is to hire pest control professionals to take care of the pest situation. After all, termites are devastating for a house while flying ants are simply a massive nuisance. 

The purpose of this article is to explain what termites and flying ants are, as well as provide the key differences between them.

Descriptions of the Insects

The following sections describe the physical structure and general behavior of termites and flying ants so that you can paint a clear picture of them in your head.


Termites can either be workers or swarmers. The latter is often confused with flying ants because they (not all) tend to have wings during the initial days of emergence. Termites have wide, unpinched bodies, along with straight antennae. They are generally deep brown or black. The wings are clear and are of the same length in the back and the front.

Termites live in huge colonies and have intricate caste systems that dictate their functions throughout the day. They are usually found in wooden debris, stumps, lumber, wooden structures, and decaying trees. Termites are destructive when it comes to wooden structures as they consume the wood and completely damage them over time.

Flying Ants

Flying ants contain elbowed antennae, and their waists are pinched. They can either be reddish, brown, or black. These ants have four wings that are faint brown.

Flying ants also live in large colonies and have the same kind of caste systems as termites do. The carpenter breed usually makes its habitat in wooden structures, although it does not cause any structural damages to the wood, unlike termites.

Is Getting Help From a Pest Control Company Necessary?

While there are many DIY methods of pest control that you can attempt, it is always the best option to get help from professional pest control. This is because these experts not only have the necessary equipment to perform serious cleansing of the pest-infested locations but are also highly experienced in such tasks.

Organizations like Find A Pest Pro employ skilled pest control experts, ensure reliable services to their clients, take proper safety precautions, and keep the clients free of any form of hassle during the act. They not only remove the targeted pests but also do it in such a way that the homeowner does not fall prey to any health hazards. Thus, hiring a pest control service is ideally the smartest thing to do—especially if the infestation is beyond control.

What are the Differences Between Termites and Flying Ants?

By now, you should have a fair idea of some of the structural differences between a termite and a flying ant. The following sections categorically explain these differences.


Both have four wings, but the significant differences are in their shapes. All the wings of a termite are equal in length and consistent in size. They are almost transparent and can reach lengths that are twice the length of their body.

Flying ants, on the other hand, have larger front wings but the ones at the back do not outgrow the size of the body. They are not clear and are generally brownish.


The antennae of termites are nearly or completely straight, whereas flying ant antennae tend to be “elbowed” or bent toward the inside. This is one of the very first giveaways when it comes to differentiating between the two types of insects.


Similar to their antennae, termites have bodies with wide waists but are generally uniform throughout. Flying ants, however, do not have broad waists. This means that their bodies look as if they are segmented in different sections.


This is what confuses most homeowners, as the difference between their colors is quite subtle. Termites and flying ants are usually dark brown or black. However, the latter is also found in a reddish or light brown hue.


The primary diet of a termite is cellulose. This is a compound that is high in nutrient content and is found in plants and tree trunks. Termites generally consume paper, wood, and any other products containing cellulose.

As for the ants, they tend to stick to nectar, seeds, other insects, and random food debris. After all, they are omnivorous.


Both termites and flying ants reside in immense colonies and follow complex caste systems or groupings. Termites usually live in tree trunks, rotting trees, wood residues, timber, and other forms of wooden structures.

On the other hand, while most flying ants do not live in wood, the carpenter breeds do tend to make their habitats in wooden materials. The rest live their lives in shrubs, vines, grass, trees, and dirt.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of a termite is divided into three stages: egg, larva or nymph, and adult. Males and females both continue to live after mating. Termites have a lifespan of a few years, although the queens can survive for decades. 

The life cycle of a flying ant is divided into four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Male ants expire after mating. Worker ants have a lifespan of a few months, but queens might be alive for years.

Termites and ants have reproductive cycles that are quite similar to each other. Both fly away from their habitats to mate and create new colonies during the warm months. This time of the year is known as the swarming season. Furthermore, both termites and flying ants fail to sustain their wings after mating.


Flying ants are a general nuisance around households, while termites can literally “eat up” the integrity of your wooden furnishings. They need to be removed from properties where they have formed an infestation. Thus, knowing the differences between these similar-looking insects is key when it comes to taking steps to get rid of them for good.

Click here to read our past blog, Wasp Sting: Symptoms, Treatments, and Remedies