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Article posted on February 18, 2019

Termites with Wings – Are They Ants or Termites?

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Gold Coast resident, Helen asks

“Last night we noticed all these flying bugs around our house and this morning there’s wings everywhere. We’re not sure if they’re ants or termites, what should we do?”


danny kelly pest imageFlying termites are often mistaken as flying ants. There are a few differences with the main one being – ants won’t eat your home. Here’s some advice and tips.

As professional pest control technicians we’re always giving advice to homeowners about the dangers of termites, and in particular, the differences between flying termites and ants. However there is often still a great deal of confusion around how to tell them apart, and what the risks are – especially if incorrectly identified.

For most homeowners and can be quite easy to mistake flying termites for flying ants because both species look similar from afar and typically swarm around the same time of year.

How do you tell the difference between flying ants and flying termites?

Flying ants have different-sized pairs of wings compared to flying termites that have two pairs of similar sized wings. Flying ants have antennae that are bent at 90-degree angles whereas Termites have straight antennae. Termites of course can cause serious damage to your property if left untreated. Given such small differences between the two, it’s easy to see why they are often confused.

flying termite flying ant difference image

When Do They Swarm?

Winged termites have a tendency to swarm during the spring and summer months. Around this time of year, rainfall increases, which in turn increases ambient air temperatures and humidity which are ideal conditions for swarmers.

If you see swarms of flying termites anywhere near your home it’s undoubtedly a warning sign and something that should be taken seriously for 2 very valid reasons –

  1. It’s likely that you already have an active termite problem in your home
  2. Unless your home is properly protected there is a genuine risk of potential termite infestation

While swarmers are a clear indication of termite activity, it’s not the winged termites that you need to be concerned about, it’s the offspring that will eventually nest. If left untreated they have the potential to cause significant damage in a very short space of time.

Flying termites from several colonies will usually take flight at the same time. They do this as they mature sexually, as a way of finding mates. Termites might swarm in there thousands, travelling various distances away from their main nest in an effort to start a new termite colony.

The female and male winged termites or ‘Alates’ as they’re referred to will take flight and mate mid-air, before falling back down to the ground. That’s why it’s often described as a ‘nuptial’ or ‘colonising’ flight. The pregnant females will begin looking for a new location to start a breeding colony as the Queen.

Where Do They Nest?

termite flying image

If you’ve noticed dried out wings on the floor or on your window sills this is a good sign you’ve got a potential termite problem. After mating females discard their wings and look for nesting grounds, which might include your roof void, or elsewhere within the home. Subterranean termites on the other hand will dig into the soil to start new colonies underground.

How Do You Tell If These Swarm Has Originated from Inside or Outside Your Home?

If you find winged termites inside, it’s more than likely that you have an existing problem and that termites are already nesting in your home. Of course they may be cases where they’ve gained entry through an open window or unsealed entrance. On the other hand, if you’ve noticed flying termites outside, (especially around external lighting) it would indicate that there’s a colony nearby.

As always it’s best to schedule a termite inspection to ensure your home is protected.

7 Precautionary Measures You Can Implement to Protect Your Home

Regular inspections of your home should be part of an ongoing maintenance and prevention plan in order to protect your home. It’s also the most effective way of detecting early signs of any potential infestations.

Other preventative measures you can implement include

  1. Ensuring your termite treatments are up-to-date, and termite barriers are in place.
  2. Keep firewood piles clear of ground contact
  3. Make sure you keep garden beds and mulch piles away from the sides and foundations of your home
  4. Regularly inspect both the interior and exterior walls for any mud tubes or damaged timber, as this is generally a good indication that termites are present.
  5. Have a routine repair and maintenance plan to check for any damaged roof tiles or fascia’s
  6. Keep basements, attics and crawl spaces dry, well ventilated, clear of any timber.
  7. Prevent the accumulation of water around your home. Subterranean termites rely on damp and sealed habitats, deriving most of their moisture from the soil. A leaking pipe or dripping aircon unit makes the area around your home far more susceptible to a termite attack.

Termites are among the most damaging insects and can cause severe structural damage if left untreated.

Have a termite problem?

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If you’re concerned you might have a termite problem, or you’ve found what look to be flying termites – or even if you’re unsure – get in touch and we’ll come out to your home and perform an inspection. Our termite inspections are fast, accurate and affordable, and come with a detailed report which outlines our findings.

Call us today and one of our friendly technicians will help you schedule an inspection.


2 responses to “Termites with Wings – Are They Ants or Termites?

  1. Our house was having a swarming fly insects yesterday. They were found outside and inside .

    I don’t know if it’s fly ants or the termites.

    Would get the check and confirm ASAP.

    1. Hi Helen,
      Don’t panic to much as this is very common this time of year and also the rain has really increased flying termite activity. When was your last termite inspection? We would recommend a termite inspection every 12 months. A termite inspection will cost $220 inc gst and is the best recommendation for your home. Please let us know if you would like to make a booking click here

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