Flying Ants vs. Flying Termites

Flying ants are commonly confused with flying termites.

That’s no surprise as both are tiny and impossible to identify without close inspection. 

Nonetheless, correctly identifying these two pests is vital to terminate them.

In this article, we’ll go over all the differences between ants and termites.

Let’s dive in.

Flying Ants vs. flying termites

  • Flying termites have straight antennae while flying ants have bent antennae
  • Flying termites have two pairs of translucent wings, while ants have two brownish pairs of wings. 
  • Both the front and back pairs of termite wings are equal in length and twice as long as their bodies. Ants on the other hand have unequal wings that are more proportionate to their bodies. 
  • Flying ants have pinched bodies, while termites have relatively straight bodies. 


Trying to identify an ant or termite mid-flight is nearly impossible.  

To accurately identify whether it is a flying termite or ant, you need to catch it. 

Since it is highly unlikely that termites or ants will bite you, catching one should be pretty easy. 

You can capture them during a swarm with a small jar or with your hand. 

You can also check the floor. There’s always a few stragglers crawling around during a swarm.

Once captured, you’ll be able to identify them better.

Flying Termite vs flying ant comparison chart

What is a Flying termite?

Flying termites are also known as swarmer or Alates.

Their primary purpose is to reproduce. They fly to leave the nest to start new colonies.

They are future kings and queens of termite colonies. 

Flying termites lose their wings soon after mating.

What is a flying ant?

Flying ants are reproductive ants. They can only fly during the breeding season. 

These ants take off in a swarm to mate in an event called the nuptial flight.

Once the mating is over, the female ants lose their wings.

The males die shortly after, and female ants go on to start a new colony.

What Do Flying Termites Look Like?

Flying termites have straight antennae and two pairs of translucent wings.

Both the front and back pairs of wings are equal in length and twice as long as their bodies. 

Compared to ants, termites have relatively straight bodies.

What do flying ants look like? 

close up flying ant isolated on white background. Winged Carpenter ant

Flying ants have bent antennae and pinched bodies.

Unlike termites, they have two brownish pairs of wings. 

Their wings are unequal, with the front side being longer. 

Their wings are also shorter and more proportionate to their bodies

Ant Infestation vs Termite Infestation

Signs Ant Infestation

Ant infestations are easier to spot than termites. That’s because ants forage on food and water out in the open.

Here’s what you should watch out for:

Live ants 

Seeing live ants in your home, especially in A large number, is a good sign that you have an ant infestation. 

You’ll typically find these in your kitchen and bathroom.  

Ant pathways or trails

Many species of ants secrete a trail pheromone to attract other ants from their colony to a particular food source.

If you see ant trails around your home, it is a good indication of an ant infestation. 

 Ant nests  

A nest site typically looks like a pile of soil or dirt.  

Trailing ants back to their nest can be very difficult.  

They are often hard to track because many ants species like to make their homes in walls or other tiny, quiet, dark places.

Dirt piles 

 Many species of ants will leave highly visible piles of dirt around their nests.

 Wood Shavings

Wood shavings could be a sign of carpenter ants.

You’ll typically find these shavings underneath wooden items.

Overrun food 

If you see ants swarming food in your home, it’s a strong indication that you have an infestation.


Signs of Termite infestation 

Termite infestations are much harder to spot than ant infestation. That’s because termites are sneaky and hide in small, dark spaces.

Here’s what you should watch out for:

Flying Termites or Swarmers 

Flying termites signify a termite population is ready to expand into new colonies.  

Mud Tubes 

Mud tubes could be a sign of subterranean termites.

A mud tube is made of small pieces of soil and wood.

These tubes help protect termites from predators.

They also protect termites from dry environments when gathering food.

Uneven or Bubbling Paint 

Uneven or bubbling paint could be a sign of termite damage.

Frass / Droppings 

 If you find a small pile of what looks like pellets inside or outside the home, it could be a sign termite infestation.

Weird Noises 

If you hear a quiet clicking sound coming from the walls, it could be a sign of termite infestation. 

When worker termites eat your woodwork, they make noises.

You can typically hear them eating if you place your ear against your walls

Hollow wood 

Termites devour wood from the inside out, leaving a weak shell.

As such, when you knock on an area that has termite damage, it will sound hollow. 

What Do I Do if I See Flying Termites in My Home

If you see a flying termite in your home, take immediate action and determine how they got inside.

See if there is a swarm outdoors. 

If you have an open window or door, they might have just stumbled into your home.

 If no entry points or no swarm are happening outside, you likely have an infestation inside your house. 

Termite colonies don’t begin producing flying termites (swarmers) until they are mature, typically after 3-4 years. 

That means that the infestation in your home is large and needs to be addressed immediately. 

The first step to treating termites is identification.  

Identifying the type of termite will help you determine where they are likely hiding and how to eliminate them. 

If you have a wood termite, you will likely need to tent and fumigate your home.  

On the other hand, if you have the subterranean termite, you will need a full treatment of the soil underneath and around your home. 

Most termite infestations cannot be treated without the help of a professional.

Are Flying Ants Dangerous?

Flying ants are not any more dangerous than your typical ant that crawls.

Some species of ants, like a carpenter ant or fire ant, will bite if they feel threatened. 

You may feel a slight sting, but nothing dangerous will happen.

Plus, it’s highly unlikely that ants will bite or sting you while flying.

 Flying ants usually are more of a nuisance than they are harmful. 

Are Flying Termites Dangerous?

Termites cannot physically harm you, but they are dangerous in other ways.

These pests feed on the wood structure of your home from the inside out.

By doing so, they leave your floors, ceilings, and walls prone to collapse.

When are flying termites most common?

The season when flying termites, a.k.a. swarmers, come out varies per region. 

But most fly it in the warmer and dryer months of the year.  

Swarmers come out in the warmer months because the high winds and rain make it difficult for them to fly and reach their mate. 

Flying during summer when the weather is warm, and winds are calm ensure the highest chances of success.  

Note that flying termites only take place in mature colonies. 

It typically takes between three to four years for a termite colony to produce flying termites. 

When Are Flying Ants Most Common?

Ants prefer warm, humid conditions before they leave their colonies.

Like termites, the warmer weather and calmer winds make it easier for them to fly and increases the likelihood of their success. 

Humidity is also important because it makes the soil on the ground easier for ants to begin building new colonies.

What is a swarm?

 “Swarming” describes an event where mass individuals from an insect colony gather to start a new colony.

Some examples of insects that swarm are ants, termites, bees, and wasps.

 If you see a single termite or ant flying around, that’s usually an indication that a swarm is happening or about to happen. 

If the swarm happens at night, you’ll see both termites or ants fly around a light source.

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