Flying Ants VS. Termites

Termite Pest Control


Many believe that flying ants are a precursor to finding termites or a termite infestation in a home – this is not always true.

Many species of ants have similarities to termites including a type of reproduction method in which the insect sends winged reproductive out of the colony, or most commonly known as ‘swarming’.  There are a few methods one may use to distinguish an ant with wings from a termite with wings. One of the easiest ways to determine the difference between the two is to examine the body parts of the insect which is possible to achieve without the use of a microscope in most cases. Termites have two body parts : a head and a body. Ants, on the other hand, have three distinct body parts: a head, an abdomen, and a thorax.

Another comparable component between the two insects are the wings. As mentioned previously, ants have one thing in common – its body parts. When trying to determine whether an insect is a termite or not, one can use the method of pulling on the wings in order to examine the body parts of that insect. If it looks like an ant, it usually is. If it has two body parts: a head and a long body, it is usually a termite.

Antennaes may also play a role in distinguishing winged ants from winged termites. All ants have a bend in its antennae whereas termites do not. A termite’s antennae are beaded while an ant’s antennae have segments that end in a small club. Also, when wanting to treat a home for ant infestation, one must examine the number of sections, the size of the club, and even the absence of a club in order to determine the type of ant infestation.

Termite swarmers have four wings and so do swarming ants. All of the difference lies in the length of the wings. The wings of a swarming termite are all the same length where as the front wings of an ant are longer than the rear wings.

So far, we have determined that the main body parts, the shape of antennae, and the length of wings are all contributing factors to distinguishing a termite from an ant.

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Another difference between the two is reproduction.

Termites endure a gradual metamorphosis and go through the egg, nymph, and adult stages. An ant, however, will go from an egg, to a larvae, then pupa, and then to the adult stage.

So what is next? Many people have questions about insects that they find in their home. Some popular questions a pest control center might ask include:

  • Where did you find the termites? In other words, were they found inside of the home or on the exterior surface of the home?
  • If found indoors, which rooms were involved?
  • How many winged termites were found?

Some termite swarmers found on the exterior surface of a home could have accidentally landed on the sides of the home due to the wind currents, but if this is the case, there is no need to be alarmed. It is common for termites to land on your house due to wind. Having termites on a tree near your house shouldn’t be a huge cause for concern, either. However, if the swarmers were seen flying outside around windows, doors, garage doors, porch columns, or other concentrations of wood, there is a need for concern.

Something important to determine is whether the termites swarmed to your house or from your house. Obviously, if termites swarmed from your house, there could potentially be a termite infestation that should be taken care of immediately. Termites found swarming on the exterior of your home are usually there unintentionally. When these insects are found on your home, just remember that a termite swarmer cannot harm you. A swarmer is created for propagation of the species, not to break down wood. The worker termite, on the other hand, eats wood and can cause great damage to a structure. Though termite swarmers have the potential to be damaging; only one in every thousand is successful. There are many obstacles a termite must face before settling into the soil and creating multitudes of swarmers.

Locating flying termites inside your home is not something a homeowner would be particularly fond of. However, certain cases are better than others. For example, if a homeowner notices that only a few swarmers are indoors, they probably got in there on accident through a cracked window or someone’s shirt. However, if a homeownder (miss spelling)  notices large numbers of swarmers, something must be done immediately. Large groups definitely signify that a colony is in or underneath the building.

Many people are concerned about finding pesticides to kill the swarming termites in their home, but that is not necessary because again, swarmers do not feed on your home. They are just indicators that a colony may exist in or beneath the home which would then need to be treated by a licensed professional or after contacting a pest control company.

When experiencing indoor swarmers, it is extremely helpful to the pest control operator if a homeowner collects information of the number of swarmers and the location they were found in. Though many swarmers may cause alarm, a thorough inspection is needed to determine the severity of the problem and the treatment necessary.

Date: Monday, 11. January 2010 23:23
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  1. 1

    I had a big water leak under one of my bathrooms and of course it is a concrete slab. After the plumbers were done I was doing the clean up myself and pulled the rest of the lanolium our of my hall bathroom and about an hour later I noticed what I thought were ants. But Ive never seen that many ants with wings about half the bugs that came out from behind the baseboards had long wings as far as the body goes I didn’t look that close but they seem rather large for ants and I had hard wood flooring put down about a year ago and one of the guys that installed it said that I had termites then I was hopeing he was wrong. I have had to have my house sprayed before for termites and my husband was told by the exterminator that the chemicals they use these days to kill termites is so strong they don’t have to treat the house but 1 time??? I am currently unemployed and seperated so you can imagine how scared I am at this point. How much does it cost to have the exterminator treat a house that is probably completely infested with them by now. I also smell a strong mold smell in the bathroom were they were I sprayed ant killer and haven’t seen anymore. I didn’t mention the black mold I had 9 yearsago in the same bathroom did I? OMG what to do what to do

  2. 2

    Hi Shelley,

    I’m sorry to hear of the structural problems you are having. One water damage can really have a domino effect on further issues. But if it makes you feel any better, there are many other people dealing with the horrible termite swarmers who have decided to infest their homes as well…
    Its always best to treat the initial source of the problem, which seems to have been the water damage in that one specific bathroom. Your best solution at this point is to use boracare with mold care. the Boracare with Moldcare will help you to get rid of both mold and termites. If you still have the flooring removed you can just paint or spray the boracare on the surface. On any unfinished surface the boracare will penetrate deeply through the wood for a more thorough treatment.
    As for treating the outside of your home, I would recommend either Dominon 2l or Termidor SC . Both are non repellent termiticide you can use for a trenching treatment. What you will need to do is dig a 6 inch trench around the whole perimeter of your home, as close to the house as you can, and apply 4 gallons of the diluted termiticide for every 10 linear feet. The trenching is what will last for years usually about 4-6 years.

  3. 3

    my brother and his wife have just moved into their new home. i noticed he had an ant problem so we bought traps and set them up and we quickly noticed there were no more ants. we also sprayed the outside of his house with something that was supposed to keep bugs out; however, the other evening i noticed that there were flying ones in the living room but they were all crawling on the floor. were the ants just coming in out of the rain or could there be a large nest we need to take care of? if you could give any advice i would be very grateful

  4. 4

    Hi Tyler,
    The ants you saw were most likely swarmer ants. These particular ants usually venture out of their colonies to look for new food sources or places to nest or to reproduce so they can start colonies of their own. Because you saw them, it could mean that these ants were just looking for a new home since you killed most of them. I wouldn’t say there is any need for immediate concern, but I think it wouldn’t hurt if you observe the ants and try to figure out where they’re coming from so you can locate the source. If you do happen to find a colony or the ant problem gets worse, you can commence using pesticides and traps once again. Try using a bait gel/bait station and granule combination this time!

  5. 5

    PLEASE ADVISE – MIGLETO 3/13/12 2245 HRS.

  6. 6

    Hi Migleto. You really need to make sure that you know what you are dealing with as far as if they are termites or ants. The two are too easily confused for each other. Since they require different control methods, we do recommend that you identify the pest first. You can take samples to a local pest control management company and they will most likely be able to identify for you.

  7. 7

    Hello, I have noticed what look like either flying ants or dry wood termites. The wings are even in length. I have found tiny peppery looking pellets by my bedroom window and sun room window as well as piles of do I get rid of them,i’m on a tight budget. Thank you.

  8. 8

    Hi Belinda,
    Wings that are even in length means that they are a termite species that you are dealing with. You will have to access the space under the window sill and apply Premise Foam. Premise foam is a termiticide that is labeled for indoor use and will be especially effective in areas like your window sill or in wall voids because it will expand to fill in cracks as well as cling onto surfaces. If you have any questions about the product or about termite control, feel free to call us or comment again! 🙂

  9. 9

    I found about ten winged termites inside my bay-window sill. The window is sealed and ‘no’ crack because it is just a big piece of glass. There is no wet spot since rain can’t even get in. Does ten or so winged termites constitutes a termite swarm that I may need to deal with?
    Thank you.

  10. 10

    It is very possible. Signs of winged termites indicate that a full grown colony is near by. Termites do not produce swarmers until the colony has grown large enough to expand. It would be recommended to thoroughly inspect the area to make sure no other activity is present.

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