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Unwelcome visitors like flying ants or termites cause frustration and damage if preventive or corrective treatments don’t control them. Termites are infamous for the damage they cause and usually easy to spot as a swarm of flying insects. But not all swarming insects are termites. Flying ants and termites both swarm, and they look similar. Learn the differences and what you can do about an infestation.

Flying Ants

Known as flying ants, carpenter ants are winged swarmers with elbowed antennae, pinched waists, and smaller hind wings than front wings. Their bodies can be black, brown, or reddish in color. Worker ants can live for a few months, but queens can live for many years, which is why it’s so important to eradicate these pests when you see them.

Flying ants eat nectar, seeds, other insects, and food debris in and around the home. They tunnel and build nests in wood, but you’ll often see them out in the open. Flying ant nests are usually found in wet, damp, or rotting wood, but you might also find them in dry wood. Fertile males and females, called alates, are the only flying ants that have wings. That’s why they’re so often confused with termites.

Some alates have only one purpose—leaving the nest to reproduce and start a new colony. However, this can vary depending on the ant species, as sometimes the workers also have wings. Most sightings of flying ants are the alates rather than the workers.


There are two types of termites: workers and swarmers. Worker termites are beige or off-white in color, measuring about 3 to 4 mm in length. Swarmer termites are dark brown or black, measuring about 4 mm long.

Termites sometimes have wings, but not always, just like flying ants. They lose their wings after mating. A termite’s antennae are straight, their bodies are wide without pinched waists, and the wings are the same size front and back.

Although you might see insect holes, it’s common to hear termites before seeing them. They enter a home or building through caulk, pipes, crawl spaces, and electrical coverings, sometimes causing short circuits.

You’ll usually find both types of termites in mud and infested wood. Generally, they eat wood, paper, and other cellulose-based products. Worker termites live for a few years, while queens live for decades.

Similarities Between Flying Ants and Termites

It’s challenging to recognize the difference between these pests. Both flying ants and termites swarm during mating. While the males die soon after, the queens drop their wings and search for a nesting site. If you notice termites or ants swarming, it’s likely there’s an infestation nearby.

Bug Out Pest Control Experts specialize in pest eradication. Our professionals are up-to-date with the newest techniques in pest control. For safe and effective termite control, we use only EPA-approved chemicals.

Contact us today at 317-777-5005 for a free estimate, which we’ll send you within 24 hours.

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