Flying ants and termites are not the same thing. Here are the differences and what you can do about an infestation.
House pests such as termites or ants are no fun. Termites are one of the most infamous, with an infestation easy to spot by a swarm of flying insects. But not all swarming insects are termites, however. Have you considered flying ants? The two differ, so let’s help you decipher the difference between flying ants and termites.
Flying ants, also called carpenter ants, are winged swarmers with elbowed antennae, pinched waists and hind wings smaller than their front wings. Their bodies can be black, brown or a reddish color. While worker ants live for a few months, the queens can live for years. These pests feed on nectar, seeds, other insects and food debris in and around the home.
Flying ants can be seen out in the open, and nest in wood, in which they tunnel. They are most commonly found nesting in wet, damp and/or rotting wood, but may also be present in dry wood. If you spot a cluster of flying red ants or a full-blown flying ant infestation, the first thing you’ll want to do is repair or replace the rotted wood. Next, you’ll want to use an insecticide to kill the ants if they have built their nest indoors. If you can’t get to the nest, use ant bait, available at home center, hardware stores and online.
There are two types of termites: the worker and the swarmer. The workers are creamy colored, measure 3 to 4 mm long and are most commonly found when mud foraging tubes or infested wood is broken open. Meanwhile, swarmers are the reproductive type, measuring about 4 mm long and are dark brown or black in color.
Termites sometimes have wings, but lose them soon after they mate. In general, they have straight antennae, wide bodies without pinched waists and equal-length wings. They mainly eat wood, paper and other cellulose-based products. Workers survive a couple of years, while queens can live for decades.
Both flying ants and termites swarm as part of the mating process. The males die soon after, while the queens drop their wings to find a nesting site. The sudden appearance of swarming ants or termites in flight is a good indicator that there is an infestation nearby.