Flying Ants Versus Swarming Termites In New Jersey

Ants and termites have many similarities. They both create nests in the ground and have species that can produce nests in man-made structures. They both produce workers for the purpose of locating and acquiring food. They are both insects, which means they have a head, a thorax, an abdomen, and six legs. And, they both produce swarmers.

Ant swarmers (often called flying ants) and termite swarmers have a lot in common. They are both produced by a mature nest for the purpose of going out and establishing new nests. They are male and female insects that mate and shed their wings. And, swarms from both of these insects don't travel far or last long.

All ant species can produce swarmers, but carpenter ants are the species that has the most in common with termites. This is because carpenter ants chew tunnels and galleries in wood, which can be quite destructive when these insects are left untreated.

flying termites on a log outside new jersey home

Differences Between Carpenter Ants & Termites

  • Termites and ant swarmers have four wings, but the wings of a flying ant do not stack evenly on top of each other like the wings of a termite. There should be a cleft at the tips of ant wings where the two left wings are slightly offset from the two right wings.
  • Termite wings are white. The wings of carpenter ant swarmers are tan.
  • Carpenter ants swarmers can be entirely black, but they may also have reddish coloring.
  • While carpenter ant swarmers can be entirely black, they are much larger than termite swarmers and easily distinguishable. Carpenter ants can be as much 5/8 inches long, including the wing length. Termite swarmers are only 3/8 inches long with wing length included.
  • The wings of termite swarmers go far beyond the abdomen, while the wings of a carpenter ant swarmer overhangs slightly.
  • Termite swarmers have antennae that are somewhat straight. Flying ants have an elbow in the middle.
  • Carpenter ants swarmers have a distinct pinch between their thorax and abdomen.

The Difference Between Carpenter Ant & Termite Damage

Carpenter ants cost U.S. property owners millions of dollars in damage annually, but the damage caused by termites is in the billions. The difference in the damage is quite simple - termites actually eat the wood, where carpenter ants essentially damage it to make their nests. The difference in the damage is also visibly different when you look at the hallowed-out wood. Carpenter ant damage will be overall smoother, since these ants clean and polish the wood as opposed to eat it. Termite damage will typically contain soil and mud as they tunnel through the wood. 

While it is never a good idea to let either of these insects establish a nest on your property, termites are a much greater threat. This is due to the way termites damage man-made structures. They can come up from the ground and silently feed on the inside of wood for years without being detected. Fortunately, termite damage can be prevented and our specialists can even track down termites in your walls

If you need assistance protecting your home from termites, Arrow Pest Control can help. Our termite specialists know how to stop termite damage before it happens. And, if you have ants, we can help with that too.

Thomas N.

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Thomas N.
Monroe, NJ
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