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Winged Ants or Termites? 4 Ways to Identify

By November 5, 2008

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Found winged insects sunning on your patio and wonder if they are Ants or Termites? There are 4 major identifiable differences: shape of antennae, waist size, wing structure and size.

1) Ants will have elbowed antennae with a near 90 degree angle bend while Termite antennae are more smoothly angled.
2) Ants have supermodel-thin waists while Termites sport a much broader girth.
3) Ant wings have few veins and Termite wings bristle with many small veins.
4) Hind wings on an Ant are smaller than the front pair while on Termites, the pairs are equal sized.

Tunnel into a fascinating article about subterranean and drywood termites.

Digest everything you ever wanted to know about identifying, preventing and controlling carpenter ants.

Comments

December 8, 2008 at 1:47 pm
(1) Paul says:

An easy way also to know that they are termites, is if you see the tunnels coming out of the wall of floor.

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December 8, 2008 at 7:33 pm
(2) pestcontrol says:

Thanks for visting Paul. I am not positive that I totally understand your comment but subterranean termites are known to leave tunnels why drywood termites do not. Both species do have winged individuals and therefore both could be confused with winged ants.

January 12, 2009 at 4:54 pm
(3) heidi says:

I found some bugs that looked a lot like the ones in this photo, but they were a little whiter. They were under a board about 2 feet from my house. Do you think they are termites?
If they are, should I get my house treated for termites?

March 14, 2009 at 4:39 pm
(4) Richie says:

I have come across lots of websites that use lots of words describing the differences between winged ants and termites. I have also come across lots of websites that have figures that show the differences between winged ants and termites. However, I have not found any website that has actual photographs showing the real-life differences between the two. Photographs could not only show the shapes of these two different insects in their natural environments but could also help the reader by showing which color they are.

March 16, 2009 at 2:25 pm
(5) pestcontrol says:

Hi Richie,

Thanks for stopping by and for adding a comment. Maybe the following link with photos will make the differences between winged ants and swarming termites more obvious.

May 22, 2009 at 9:40 pm
(6) Rob says:

These flying insects are crawling over my lamp as I type. I’ve smashed upwards of 100 of them and they’re still appearing. The insects have a three segment body like an ant but their antennae seem straight. They appear to be about 2 mm long.

May 23, 2009 at 4:20 am
(7) pestcontrol says:

Hi Rob,

Thanks for visiting. Sorry to hear about your pest infestation. Please look at the enlarged photos on this Kansas State site and see if your bugs look like the termites pictured. Look closely at their wings. Do they have 2 pairs of equal sized wings?
If you cannot make a positive identification, e-mail photos or drop off a speciment to your County Extension office.
Hope that this added info helps.

Roger

[a href=http://www.entomology.ksu.edu/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=729] Termite and Winged Ant Photos[/a]

June 5, 2009 at 12:40 am
(8) Laurie says:

Hi, In the past 2 weeks or so I have noticed flying insects that are making holes in my flower beds on the south side of my house. I am concerned they may be termites. I have looked at some of the websites that show the differences between what winged ants and termites look like, but what are the differences in the way their nests look like in the ground? These are holes that have been “drilled” with the loose soil piled around them and there are many just inches apart (100+??). The area gets a lot of sun and is really dry, although I have been watering the plants and it has rained a little. They are swarming around these holes during and after watering. Any ideas?

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