How to Tell Between Termites and Flying Ants

One of the major signs property owners and building managers keep an eye out for as the weather warms is swarms of insects around the area–primarily because this can indicate termite swarmers. At the same time as termite colonies are breeding, ant colonies are also becoming equally active, and both sets of pests have a winged life-cycle phase. So while ants can certainly be an unwanted presence in a home, dealing with winged ants may be far less hazardous to property value than if you are truly seeing termites. But how can you tell the difference?


We clarify some of the variations below in order to make it easier to distinguish the two pest species. Recognize that each one will require different pest control techniques in order to rid them from your property. Again, while ants can be a nuisance, it’s far more important to determine if you are dealing with termites in order to avoid property damage and possible undermining of structural integrity.

Winged Ants versus Termites


1. Note the Wings

Capturing a specimen should be easy enough using a small net, especially considering how many swarmers will be in the air once the colony in question becomes active. Once you’ve got one or two, check out their wings. Both termites and ants have four wings, but termite wings are all the same size while one set of ant wings will be noticeably larger than the other pair.

2. Beware “Flying Ant Days”

Flying ant days are a common term used for a day where flying ants are seen in far larger-than-average numbers, with thousands of colonies in an area emitting breeding ants into the air for a brief period. These days used to occur more toward the end of summer, but have begun occurring in springtime as well due to generally warming temperatures across the country.

3. Watch the Weather

If you are on the lookout for flying ants or termites around your property, you will often see swarmers of various sorts in the days after heavy rains. Not only will the moisture push the pests out from their colonies in the soil, but they will also be using the liquid to nourish themselves for the breeding process.

4. Other Physical Characteristics

Termites and flying ants can be separated by other visual indicators, such as their antennae and body shape. Ant antennae are bent while termite antennae are nearly straight. Ants have more proportionate bodies compared to their wing size, while termite bodies are almost half the size of their wings–and ants also appear more distinctly segmented compared to termite’s more uniform shape.

Contact ProShield today to learn more differences between winged ants and termites.