Although quite similar in appearance and often confused for each other, termites and flying ants are actually quite different. The difference between the two determines the appropriate course of treatment for these pests. Can you spot the difference between these two?


Both termites and flying ants have 4 wings. Termite wings are uniform in size and equal in length; they are also twice as long as their body length and are clear in color. Flying ants have wings that are larger in the front than in the back; their wings are shorter and more proportionate to their bodies. They are also tinted brown in color.


Termite antennae are straight or almost straight while flying ant antennae are bent or “elbowed.”


Termites have broad-waisted bodies that are mostly uniform in width along their entire length. Ants, by contrast, have thin waists that make their bodies appear segmented.


Termites are characteristically black or dark brown in color while flying ants can be black, brown, or reddish in color.


Both species live in large colonies with distinctive caste systems. Termites can be found in tree stumps, decaying trees, lumber, wood debris, and wooden structures. Carpenter ants live in wood and wood structures; other ant species live in trees, shrubs, grass, dirt, etc.


Termites eat cellulose which is a nutrient-rich material that is found in plants. They eat mainly wood, paper, and other cellulose-based products. Ants, on the other hand, are omnivores, eating primarily nectar, other insects, seeds, and food debris.

Life Cycle

The termite life cycle consists of 3 stages: egg, larvae (nymph), and adult. Both males and females continue to live on after they mate. Termites live for a couple of years while queens can live for decades. The ant life cycle consists of 4 stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Once they mate, male ants die off. Worker ants live for a few months while queens can live for years. Both termites and ants have similar reproductive cycles. In the warm months (swarming season), both will fly from their nests to mate and establish new colonies. Both also lose their wings after they mate.

Termites can go for long periods of time undetected, causing significant damage to your home and other wooden structures. While ants are less of a threat, they can still cause some damage to your home and can also be indicative of water damage. Pest control experts are trained to recognize and easily spot the differences between these two species. If you suspect you have a problem with these or any other pests, contact a licensed pest control company who can provide you with a thorough evaluation and comprehensive treatment plan.