Distinguishing Flying Termites from Flying Ants


Wood eating insects are a near constant threat to your home. Here in the Gainesville, Haymarket, and surrounding area, termites and carpenter ants are the most prevalent wood destroying pests and homeowners are most likely to notice swarmers – the flying insects that seek out new places to establish colonies.

Studying swarming insects around your home will help you prevent future damage. When you can identify an infestation early on, you can take steps to exterminate pests before they can begin to grow their colony. If you have spotted swarming insects, look for these signs to figure out what pest you have.

Characteristics of Flying Termites

The termite species local to Gainesville are eastern subterranean termites. In terms of appearance, termite swarmers are black or dark brown with four wings all equal in length. The wings are much longer than the body, and white or lightly colored. Termites do not have a clear waist.

Other differences from ants include:

  • Swarming Time – Termites swarm from March to May. The swarmers are usually out only for less than a day before they find a place to build their nest.
  • Living Space – Subterranean termites live in soil, and only the workers in the colony tunnel into the wood.
  • Diet – Termites consume wood. They will eat any type of wood, both in good condition and rotting.

Termite swarmers will shed their wings after they settle into their colony. At this point, it becomes far more difficult to locate them as they are living and eating out of sight.

Characteristics of Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are usually much larger than termite swarmers, measuring up to 1 inch long. They can be black, brown, reddish, or yellow depending on their species. They also have 2 sets of wings like termites, but the top wings are much shorter than the ones underneath. Ant swarmers have a distinct waist between their head and abdomen.

Their differences in behavior and diet include:

  • Swarming Time – Carpenter ants swarm later than termites, often around May, June, and July.
  • Habitat – Ants live directly in the wood, building tunnels and galleries. The wood they live in needs to be rotting.
  • Diet – Ants do not eat the wood, but instead push it out of their tunnels. Carpenter ants inside homes have a similar diet to other ants, eating meats, sugars, pet food, and other food items.

Other ant species besides carpenter ants can also have swarmers, but these species are not destructive.

Why is it Important to Tell What Type of Insect You Have?

Both termite and carpenter ant damage can be costly for homes. But knowing which one is present by examining the signs can help you determine what you need to get rid of pests. Termites and ants require different pest treatments to remove them.

The services of a local pest control company in Gainesville can help you identify whether you have ants or termites in your home. At ExtermPRO, we inspect the wood around your home and create a personalized treatment plan to get rid of wood eating pests fast. Call us today to get started.

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