Difference Between Flying Ants and Termites

The following article deals with the information regarding difference between flying ants and termites. The flying ants vs termites study helps in understanding these differences properly.
In the United States, termites cause a lot of damage to houses by destroying the wood used in their construction. Many times, the flying ants are mistaken for termites due to their similar appearance. It is necessary to understand the differences between these creatures in order to take preventive measures for controlling them.

Flying Ants
The flying ants are not a separate species or type of ants but those males and females which have not bred and might be in the process of doing so. The division of the body into parts such as head, thorax and abdomen makes flying ants identification easier and thus, differentiates them from termites. Before making an attempt of eradicating them, it is important to know what attracts flying ants. Sugar and greasy foods are the best baits to attract them. The first step in the process of flying ant's eradication is to locate their nest. Flying ants in the house are mostly found in walls where they build their nests. If the house is infested with flying ants in winter, the possibility of having their nest in the walls is high.

The termites are eusocial insects which fall under the order Isoptera. These are detritivorous insects (feed on dead materials) mostly found in the tropical and sub-tropical regions. It is necessary to understand the difference between flying ants, termites and similar insects in order to take appropriate measures for their control. Many times it happens that the flying ant problem is mistaken for termites; which adds to the worry of house owners.

Distinguishing Features of Flying Ants and Termites
Although flying ants and termites are similar in appearance, there are certain differences in their physical appearance which enable us to identify flying ants and differentiate them from termites. The difference between a flying ant and a termite could be noticed easily if careful observation is made.
  • The body of termites is divided into two parts i.e. the head and the body. Ants on the other hand have three parts - head, thorax and abdomen.
  • The waist region of the ant appears to be somewhat pinched in shape while that of the termite is not.
  • The antennae of the termites are straight while that of ants are bent in shape.
  • The legs of ants are present in the thoracic region, just behind the head. Termites on the other hand have legs throughout the length of the body.
  • The antennae of the termites are in a beaded form while those of ants are in a continuous line.
  • The length of the wings of flying ants are different in size than that of termites. Both the termites and flying ants have four wings however, the front wings of the ants are larger than the hinds wings. In case of termites, all the four wings have the same length.
  • Another difference to be noted between termites and ants is that the former has wings that are gray-white in color while ants have transparent wings with veins which could be seen easily.
  • The veins present on the wings are easily visible in case of the flying ants. Due to the grayish tinge present on the wings, veins on the wings of termites are not easily visible.
The developmental phase that a termite goes through, is known as gradual metamorphosis. The flying ants undergo complete metamorphosis. The different phases in the life cycle of a termite are the egg, nymph and adult. The flying ant however, passes into the larval stage after the egg stage and then into the pupal stage. The adult stage is reached after the pupa and thus, the complete metamorphosis of flying ant concludes.

The feeding habits of these flying black ants and termites are also different. The termites primarily feed on wood, while the flying ants eat a variety of things including plants, meat, etc. The bacteria present in the stomach of termites help in breaking down the cellulose.

The above description about flying ants vs termites presents before us the various aspects of their structure, behavior and food habits. Studying the difference between flying ants and termites help us in understanding the various causes of flying ants and termite infestation. Thus, taking preventive measures against the menace created by them becomes easier.
Last Updated: September 22, 2011
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This article really helped me out alot...good information! - Jude [June 30, 2013]
a very informative article by shashank Helped a lot whilst talking to the pest control person. thanks - vandana Patel [April 8, 2012]
Thank you for the information . . I found a couple of those little "flyers" - Don [February 21, 2012]
I think your article would have been better if you showed a picture or diagram of a flying ant and compared it to a flying termite. - Clinker [June 23, 2011]