For many homeowners, the first obvious sign of termite infestation is a swarm of flying insects. However, not all swarming insects are termites – some are flying ants. Pest control experts are trained to distinguish between flying ants and termites based on a few physical characteristics.
A swarming termite has straight antennae and two sets of equal-length wings. Termite swarmers appear to have two body segments with straight abdomens. A termite’s wings are approximately twice the length of its body.
Most subterranean termites swarm in the spring or summer, while drywood termites typically swarm in the late summer or fall. Some termite species may swarm as late as November in warmer climates.
Flying ants have antennae that are bent in the middle, a pair of long wings and a pair of short wings. A flying ant’s wings are approximately the same length as its body. A flying ant also has three distinct body segments that narrow at the waist.
Swarm season for flying ants depends on the species; each species may swarm at a different time in the year.
While some homeowners may think of ants as just a nuisance, some ant species can damage homes and buildings. Carpenter ants, unlike termites, do not eat wood. Instead, carpenter ants excavate wood to create nests.
Due to their unique biology and behavior, termites and ants require different control methods. If you see flying insects in and around your home, contact your pest control expert for positive identification of ants, termites and other wood-destroying insects.