Flying Ants or Termites? 

10 June 2024 · 3 min read


On a calm summer evening, you might find yourself unwinding on your porch, enjoying the warm breeze. Suddenly, you notice a flurry of winged insects buzzing around your outdoor lights. The initial sight of these swarming bugs can send anyone into a mild panic. Are these harmless flying ants just enjoying the night air, or could they be termites, silently plotting to turn your wooden structures into their next meal?

Being able to distinguish between flying ants and termites isn’t just a pest control task; it’s essential for any homeowner. The difference between a minor nuisance and a potential property disaster hinges on your ability to identify these insects accurately. In this blog, we’ll explore the physical traits and behaviors that set these winged critters apart and provide practical advice on managing and preventing infestations. So, let’s embark on this journey to become adept at figuring out if it’s flying ants or termites.

Key Differences 

Flying ants and termites differ in several physical and behavioral ways. We’re going to take a closer look at their body structure, wings, and behaviors.

Body Structure 


Subterranean termites have a broad, straight waist without any noticeable pinch. Their antennae are straight and bead-like, lacking the distinct bend seen in ants. Subterranean termites are usually lighter in color, ranging from creamy white to light brown, and are slightly smaller than flying ants, usually about ¼ inch in length.

Flying Ants

Flying ants, including carpenter ants, have a narrow, pinched waist, creating a clear separation between the thorax and the abdomen. Their antennae are elbowed or bent, giving them a distinct look. Flying ants typically have a dark brown or black body and are generally larger than termites, measuring between ¼ to ½ inch in length.



Subterranean termites have two pairs of wings that are equal in size and length. Termite wings are more fragile and can easily fall off, often leaving discarded wings as evidence of their presence around your home. Their wings are also more uniform in appearance, lacking the distinct vein pattern seen in ants.

Flying Ants  

Flying ants have two pairs of wings, with the front pair significantly larger than the hind wings. These wings also have visible veins and are often transparent. Winged ants are commonly seen swarming in late spring and early summer.

Behavior and Habitat  

Flying Ants

Flying ants prefer dry, wooded areas and typically nest in wall voids, under floors, or in decaying wood. They are most commonly seen swarming in late spring and early summer. Their diet mainly consists of sugary substances and other insects. Carpenter ants are a notable species of flying ants known for nesting in wood, but unlike termites, they do not eat it.


Subterranean termites thrive in moist environments and usually build their nests underground or within wooden structures. They create intricate tunnel systems, known as mud tubes, to travel between their nests and food sources. These termites are most active in the spring, especially after rain, and feed on wood and cellulose materials, causing significant structural damage to buildings. Termite swarmers are a sign of a mature termite colony looking to establish new nests.

Why it Matters 

Identifying whether you have flying ants or subterranean termites is vital because the latter can cause significant damage to your property. While flying ants are more of a nuisance, termites can compromise the integrity of wooden structures, leading to costly repairs.

How to Manage Infestations  

Given the potential for significant damage and the complexity of effectively managing these pests, professional help is recommended for both flying ants and subterranean termites.  


For subterranean termites, Greenhouse Termite and Pest Control provides the most efficient and effective methods to get rid of them. We use the Sentricon in-ground baiting system. This system produces bait that is more attractive to termites than wood. The termites take the bait back to the colony, share it, and the entire colony dies off. This method is highly effective in eliminating the termite threat and being proactive against possible future termite infestations.

Flying Ants  

For flying ants, targeted treatments are crucial. At Greenhouse Termite and Pest Control, this includes spraying the lawn three feet up from the foundation and outward to prevent ants from entering your home. Additionally, a lawn spray covering the entire yard creates a barrier that kills off any already-formed nests. This comprehensive approach ensures that your home remains protected from future invasions.

Prevention Tips

To avoid infestations of both flying ants and subterranean termites, consider the following preventive measures:

  • Keep your home dry and well-ventilated to deter termites and other pests.
  • Seal cracks and crevices where ants might enter.
  • Regularly inspect your property for signs of insect activity.
  • Store firewood and wooden materials away from your home.
  • Use professional pest control services for both residential and commercial pest control needs.

By being vigilant and informed, you can ensure that your home remains a protected and secure haven, free from the threat of winged invaders like flying termites and flying ants. Understanding the differences and employing effective pest management strategies will help you maintain a pest-free environment.

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