How to Tell the Difference Between Ants and Termites With Wings

Posted on November 19, 2019

How to Tell the Difference Between Ants and Termites With Wings

How to tell the difference between ants and termites

Have you recently found a swarm of flying pests around your property – but you’re unsure if they’re ants or termites with wings?

By knowing how to tell the difference between the two, this will help you detect the signs of an infestation early and ensure you get the treatment you need to save your property from termite damage.

If the swarm of flying insects turn out to be termites, this can mean one of two things:

  • Your property is at-risk of a termite infestation in the near future, or
  • Your property is already infested with termites (i.e. the colony has already been established)

For this reason, it’s vital that you know what to look for when you come across a swarm of flying insects. While there are many differences, for the sake of simplicity, the two key differences you should look for are: their visual appearance and lifecycle.

Appearance Differences

  • Wings: Both flying termites and ants have four wings. But the difference lies in the wingspan. Flying ants have a shorter wingspan at the bottom, while flying termites have the same wingspan for both pairs of wings.
  • Antennas: Both flying termites and ants have antennas on their head. However, the antennas on flying ants are bent at a 90-degree angle, while the antennas on flying termites are straight.
  • Shape: Flying termites tend to have a uniform width along their entire body, while flying ants have a distinctly thin waist to separate portions of their body.


Flying Swarmers and Termite WingsBoth ants and termites with wings have a similar reproductive cycle. During the warmer months, when the nest becomes too full, both flying ants and termites take flight in order to search for a new mate and establish new colonies. In fact, the mating process occurs mid-flight, before both the male and female pests descend to the ground.

Upon reaching the ground, both flying ants and termites shed their wings. You will most likely spot these wings around the perimeter of the building like on window sills, decking, outdoor furniture, or near drainage pipes.

This is good news for you. Why? Because, even if you did miss the initial swarm of flying insects, you can closely inspect their wings to determine their species – so all hope is not lost!

If the appearance of the wings do match those of flying termites, you could be at-risk of an infestation. Book a termite inspection with your local pest controller, they can assess the situation and recommend a treatment plan for you.

Location of Termite Nests

Once flying termites shed their wings, they will begin the search for a convenient spot to establish a new colony. The location of these colonies will depend on the species of the termite:

  • termite species and typesSubterranean termites:Prefer to dwell in confined, moisture-rich spaces. So they typically build their nests in underground soil in order to stay damp and cool. Be sure to inspect wet areas around the premise like gutters, drainage pipes, window air conditioners, bathrooms, kitchens, and the laundry.
  • Drywood termites:On the other hand, don’t need to reside near the ground or moisture-rich places to establish a new colony. All they need is a space that has wood materials in abundance. They can also forge maze-like pathways from one source of food to another, which enables them to reach more areas in the building and forage food at a rapid pace.

Another structure to keep an eye out for are termite mounds. These are above-ground structures made out of mud, fecal matter and saliva, which are built specifically in hot climates to protect the termites from scorching temperatures.

While the chances of a termite swarm being able to build a termite mound is unlikely – at least, not without you finding it first – be sure to inspect the outdoor space often so you can rule out the possibility.

One thing to remember. If you do discover a termite nest, do not make any attempt to remove or destroy the nest. Otherwise you risk causing the termites to panic, go to ground and then come back within 4 weeks and may even relocate elsewhere, which means they become wide spread and cost more money to get rid of the infestation.

Book a Termite Inspection to Save Your Property

If you have successfully identified termites with wings in your property, it’s worth taking action now – before the problem gets worse.

At All Bugs, we provide comprehensive termite inspections for homes and businesses across Brisbane. Our qualified pest controllers have access to the latest thermal imaging cameras, which enable us to accurately pinpoint the source of an infestation – without the risk of disturbing the termites.

We also provide detailed inspection reports complete with high quality photos and a custom quote for termite control. This way, you have all of the information you need to control an existing infestation, and take the necessary steps to prevent a future termite attack.

Contact All Bugs today to book your termite inspection.

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