The Differences Between Termites & Flying Ants

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The Differences Between Termites & Flying Ants

A quick look at termites and flying ants and might make you think the insects are twins. But despite ants and termites likeness, the bugs that destroy wood have a few physical differences, from their abdomens to their antennae. If any of these species has invaded your house in large numbers, they will destroy your wood structures, although all in a different way.


Let’s start with termites, popularly known as insects that feed on dead or decaying plant material, including the wood used in building your house. They are irritating because you might not know about their infestation until severe damage has already been caused to your wood structure. As much as possible, you must get rid of them.

Termites live in large caste colonies, which means there are different types of jobs within the group, just like the workers and the queen that rules them. Depending on the species (there exist over 2,000 worldwide and 40 in the U.S.), these colonies can be as large as several million individuals.

The termites seen flying around are the reproductive individuals that fly away and create new colonies. Workers, which make up most of the colony, are responsible not only for the damage done to your house but for eating and feeding the rest of the group.

Flying Ants

Flying or carpenter ants feed on nectar, food debris, and even other insects, as opposed to your house. Over 10,000 species of ants exist all over the world, most of which have winged individuals.

They also form caste colonies headed by a queen. They also have worker bugs, and again, the ones seen flying around with wings are the reproductive individuals. The workers are non-reproductive females that care for the queen and her children and search for food for the colony.

Like termites, reproductive male and female flying ants leave the colony to mate and create or search for new colonies. Flying or carpenter ants can be seen around at the same time of year as termites.

Termites Vs. Flying Ants

Termites and flying ants have similar looks! But some available distinct differences will assist you in deciding the kind of pest control you wish to want to visit your house.


Though they look similar, flying ants or otherwise known as carpenter ants, and termites entirely belong to two orders of insects. Flying ants belong to the Formicidae family of insects, which belongs to the Hymenoptera order of insects that includes ants, bees, wasps, and ant flies. There are 2,300 species of termites belonging to seven families, and those families consist only of termites that belong to the Isoptera order.


Carefully observe an ant that fly and an insect consuming wood side-by-side, and a difference is noticeable in the shape of the insects’ thoraxes and abdomens. A termite’s abdomen, especially the creature’s back end, looks like a stretched oval. The abdomen connects to the termite’s thorax — the part between the head and abdomen — seamlessly. The difference is, carpenter ant or flying ants abdomen is shaped like a fatter, shorter oval. With a thin connection joining the abdomen to the thorax, it gives the insect the appearance of having a belted waist. The link is not seamless at all compared to a termite’s appearance.

Antennae And Legs

Both ants and termites have two antennae and six legs but don’t share similarities. Termites have short and straight antennae while flying ants sport longer antennae that bend horizontally near the base and then vertically shoot-up. A flying ant’s antennae look a bit like a football goal post while the other insect’s legs are quite short, while a flying ant’s legs are long.


Ants and termites have fore wings and hind wings. In termites, the two pairs share an identical size. In flying ants or carpenter ants, the forewings are a bit larger than the hind wings. Although this difference exists between the two insects, it’s not noticed easily. The size difference can be seen easily when a camera snaps the two insects closely than when ant flying and scampering around inside your home. If there’s an opportunity to find a dead one, take that to inspect the insect’s wings.


Though ants or termites can destroy the interior of your home especially the wood type, termites are considered a greater threat as a pest even if you search for their negative effect. The latter feed on wood while ants or carpenter ant remove wood to enable them to build tunnels and expand their homes. If an insect consuming wood is discovered in your home, it’s possible that there is a nest inside the house. Meanwhile, finding flying or carpenter ants in your home does not signify bug or termite infestation. The University of Connecticut Integrated Pest Management Program shares a view that foragers from nests existing outside will consider making their way indoors. They issue a warning that if large numbers of bugs are found every day or piles of sawdust in winter, it’s likely a carpenter ant or termite infestation has occurred. The best way to resolve bugs and termites problem requires the services of a professional pest control specialist. On no account, you should consider tackling the problem yourself.

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