Flying Ants VS. Termites 

large black flying ant in a dc homeAre you finding winged insects crawling around on your home or business? It can be disturbing. After all, carpenter ants and termites are known to eat away at buildings and cause structural damage. If caught too late, this structural damage can be significant. But, since carpenter ants cause millions of dollars in property damage each year and termite damage is in the billions, it is important to be able to tell the difference between these two insects when swarmers appear.

From A Distance

When flying ants or termite swarmers appear, it is often as a swarm. If the swarm happens at night, you'll see both of these insects flying around a nearby streetlight or exterior lights on your home. Light leaking out of your windows will also draw them in. This attraction to light is also why you will most often find these two insects crawling on the inside of your windows. They are trying to get to the sunlight outside. When this happens, you should also know that this is a strong indication that you have a mature ant or termite nest inside your home.

If you're seeing lots of winged insects, and you are not inclined to get up close and personal, you can often tell which of these pests you are looking at by whether or not there are ants crawling around nearby or in their midst. When ant and termite swarmers mate, they lose their wings. But you're not likely to see wingless termites walking around with winged termites. They will be tucked away inside the wood. That is why the presence of ants is a sign that you're looking at flying ants. It is also highly unlikely that winged termites will be hanging out with wingless ants.

Another distinction between these two insects that can be seen from a distance is the shape and color of their wings. While all insects have four wings, these wings come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. The wings of termite swarmers are white and stack on top of each other. This makes the white color bolder and the wings appear as though they are one. When crawling around together, it can look like tiny feathers fluttering on the ground. Carpenter ants have yellowish wings that appear more transparent. These wings do not stack exactly on top of one another which create a cleft at the end.

Up Close

The best way to tell what insect you're looking at is to catch one and look at it up close and personal. The first thing you'll notice--if you're looking at a termite--is that the wings are about ⅓ or ½ inch longer than the body and completely rounded on the ends, as mentioned earlier. If you're looking at a flying ant, you're likely to notice that the two wings on each side are also unequal in length, and more pointed at the end than termite wings.

Since flying ants are ants, they will look like ants. That is to say, they will have the distinct, pinched waist of an ant. Termites do not have this pinch at the waist.

The antennae on termites and ants are also quite different. Ant antennae have an elbow in them, and they have a stick-like quality. Termite antennae look like they are made out of many, tiny balls stacked on top of each other, and they are straight.

Termite swarmers are considerably smaller than carpenter ant swarmers. But, since you're probably not going to find both of these insects swarming your home at the same time, this fact isn't likely to help you determine which pest you have. It is good, however, to know that a carpenter ant swarmer can be as much as 13 to 17mm in length. If you're finding winged insects that are much smaller than this, you probably have termites.

Control Measures

If you're finding winged insects around your home, it is important to do something about it. While carpenter ants are certainly much less of a threat than termites, they can still do a tremendous amount of damage if left untreated. Carpenter ants are also a warning sign that your home is being damaged by water. These insects prefer soft or rotted wood to create their tunnels and nest galleries. If you have a broken or obstructed gutter system, it can be very bad for the equity of your house.

If you live in our extensive service area of Maryland, D.C., and Northern Virginia, reach out to us today. American Pest is a national pest control leader and a trusted advisor to government agencies and municipalities. You can trust our educated team to protect your home or business from wood-destroying insects.


preferred care complete pest controlPreferred Care Complete Pest Control + Sentricon® AlwaysActive™

Preferred Care Complete Termite is our trusted solution for around-the-clock termite control and prevention packaged with superior pest control for 30+ home infesting pests. The initial service includes a thorough interior/exterior home pest inspection and complete installation of the Sentricon® System for termite control. Ongoing service is performed seasonally by one of our Certified Sentricon Specialists™.  With Preferred Care Complete Termite, your home is protected from termites and other pests 24/7/365, year after year. Termite Service Warranty and backed by our Pest Free Pledge. 

  • Up to 4 Services Per Year
  • Year-Round Coverage
  • Exterior Perimeter Treatment
  • Interior Service Guarantee
  • Exterior Spider De-Webbing
  • Exterior Rodent Prevention
  • Sentricon® Always Active
  • Pest Free Pledge Guarantee

Starting at $69*/month

*Some exclusions apply

For Faster Service Call Directly

(877) 282-1886

Contact Me About Pest Control

Fill out the form and recieve feedback in less than 5 minutes. For immediate service please call.