Termites or Flying Ants: What’s the Difference?

a flying ant on the right and a termite on the left on a white background

Termites and flying ants look similar and both attack wood, but they aren’t the same pest. If you’re seeing winged pests near your home, it’s important that you correctly identify them so that you can treat the problem, appropriately. In this blog post, we’ll talk about the differences between termites vs flying ants and offer ways you can handle an infestation.

Flying Ants

Flying ants, also referred to as carpenter ants, have small waists, bent antennae, and two sets of wings — with the larger-sized wings located in the front. While many flying ants are black in color, they can also be brown or red and they’re larger than most ants in the Pacific Northwest. Queens can range in size from 16 to 18 millimeters long, while workers range in size between 6 to 13 millimeters long. These winged swarmers will feed on seeds, nectar, insects, and any food you have in the home.

Flying ants can be very destructive to wooden structures, furniture, and woodpiles. These pests don’t actually eat wood, they excavate it to expand their nests. They mostly favor moist or rotting wood but may also infest dry wood.


Subterranean termites are the most destructive termite in the country and live throughout most of the continental US. Subterranean termite colonies are comprised of workers, swarmers, and soldiers.

  • Workers: are typically cream-colored and wingless. They’re commonly present where infested wood is broken open or foraging mud tubes.
  • Soldiers: are cream-colored and wingless like workers, but also have large brown heads.
  • Swarmers: are nearly black and have two wings that are twice as long as their body.

Subterranean termites also prefer moist, rotting wood but unlike carpenter ants, termites eat the wood. If you see claylike tubes near your wooden structures or notice darkening or blistering of your wooden structures, you most likely have termites.

How to Get Rid of Termites or Flying Ants

Termite swarmers tend to be present during early spring when it’s rainy and warm. Flying ants can swarm at different times of the year. If you see either of these pests or signs of their damage on your property, you’ll want professional help. Both of these pests are highly destructive and resilient. Treatment options vary, and having a certified pest control technician to develop a customized treatment plan for you will go a long way toward providing you peace of mind.

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