Flying Ants vs Termites

The word termite originates from the Roman word 'Termes' which means woodworm. Their diet has remained virtually unchanged for millions of years, solely feeding on cellulose found in wood. Every spring & summer, reproductives emerge from ant & termite colonies alike. While each posseses unique characteristics, it can be easy to get confused, making it important for homeowners to be able to discern between both.

Key Differences

Using the physical differences outlined below, you can determine whether or not what you've found be attributed to an underlying termite infestation.

Wings:2 pairs, forewings larger than hind pair2 pairs identical in size
Antennae:Straight AntennaeElbowed Antennae
Body Shape:Segmented body, 3 distinct portions (head, abdomen, thorax)Broad body shape without physical distinctions


Termite colonies originate when a king (winged male) mates with a queen (winged female). The same is true for ants. These are the winged reproductives and they are almost always black (unlike the workers). Both take flight, often in large swarms during late summer in search of mates. The time of a swarm's emegence is entirely dependent on temperature and the exact species, but most take place during the day & late evening in summer. A swarm of reproductives indoors is the first indication of a larger problem at hand. Most will not survive and die out before they can escape, losing their wings shortly after. Picture hundreds of dead termites found around window sills, their bodies littered with tiny clear deteached wings. This is actually quite common. Be greatful the problem made itself visible before too much damage was done. If you have used the table above to identify the winged insects as termites, contact a termite company to come out and perform a free inspection - they should be able to locate the source of the infestation until you decide what to do next.

Natural Enemies

Ants are quite aggressive towards termites and will attack upon detection of other colonies. Termites are no match for a swarm of foraging ants and will quickly perish following battle.