Is this a termite wing or flying ant wing

Is this a termite wing or flying ant wing

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I saw this on the bottom corner of my pantry in the Washington DC area. I can't tell whether is termite wing or something else. The wing is 3/4" long.

This appears to be the wing of a crane fly (Tipulidae). Using this figure you can begin narrowing down the possibilities for wing venation. Searching diptera wing venation, I think, brings up this excellent diagram (see bottom left for Tipulidae) which quite closely matches your photo if rotated in a graphics program (GIMP):

Wing photo from OP paired with wing outline image copied and rotated from

You could likely drill this down further by searching Tipulidae venation or the like on Google Scholar, which pulls up many papers with detailed information on various regions and taxa of crane flies.

Carpenter ants (Camponotus) and termites (Isoptera) share several similarities, not the least of which, is that they both are notorious for causing wood damage in homes. Outside of wing size during reproduction, termites are roughly the same size as the many species of large ants that fall into the carpenter ant group and like carpenter ants, termites burrow into wood, making them the enemy of your home's wood frame. And because both carpenter ants and termites swarm in the springtime to mate, they are often confused for one another by homeowners spotting the swarms.

Differences Between Flying Ants and Winged Termites

It’s very easy to confuse flying ants from winged termites at first glance—especially since both like to live in wooden structures. Both types of insects are similar in size, color, and have the ability to swarm. And, both establish new colonies in the warmer months. Due to their many similarities, homeowners in the North Carolina area are often unsure whether they have witnessed flying ants or termites on their property.

However, despite their visual similarities, flying ants and winged termites are quite different. Their behavior and diet are two huge differences. While both like to inhabit wood structures, termites like to eat wood whereas ants do not. Flying ants prefer to eat cellulose, found in plants, but will gladly eat food debris left by homeowners. Because carpenter ants, or flying ants, don’t eat wood, they pose less structural damage than termites.

How do I tell the difference between winged ants and winged termites?

Winged ants and winged termites look very similar to the untrained eye. However, there are some key differences between the two pests:

  • Biting : Carpenter ants, or what many would call a flying ant, can and sometimes do bite humans. Soldier termites, although capable of biting humans, rarely bother.
  • Wing Formation : Although both flying ants and winged termites both sport four wings, the ant’s front wings are noticeably larger than the ant’s rear wings. Termite wings are uniform in size.
  • Wing to Body Comparison : The wings on flying ants are typically proportionate to their body size. Termite wings run twice as long as the body of the insect.
  • Antennae Formation : On the ant, look for elbowed antennae. On the winged termite, look for nearly straight antennas.
  • Body Formation : Termite body thickness tends to be uniform whereas ants typically have a thin waist that separates their thorax and abdomen.

The accompanying video from the North Carolina Pest Management Association serves as an excellent primer on how to tell the difference between flying ants and termites.

Pest control for Flying Ants vs. Winged Termites

If you have a swarm of insects at your home, it’s best to contact an experienced pest control specialty that can easily distinguish the difference between flying ants and termites. Because flying ants and winged termites are different types of bugs, they require different types of pest control treatments. A pest control specialist can also set you up with the proper pest control treatment to get rid of the bug infestation completely.

But is the presence of outdoor winged termites evidence of a termite problem in your North Carolina home?

At certain times of the year, swarms of winged adult termites emerge from underground termite colonies. Their goal? Establish new colonies. According to a North Carolina State University article on residential, structural, and community pests:

  • If most of the winged termites are spotted outdoors, the associated nest is also likely outdoors.
  • If most of the winged termites appear indoors, your Charlotte regional home may well have an inside termite infestation.

So, is it safe to ignore nearby outdoor termite colonies?

Definitely not. What is seen above ground may represent only one of many colonies. Consider the following facts:

  • “Swarmers,” or winged adult termites, exist to start new termite colonies.
  • Shortly after swarming begins, the wings break off. The termite then seeks security within voids in walls, soil, or other hidden areas.
  • That perfect “hidden area” may be your North Carolina home. Unfortunately, termite-related home damage may go on for years before it is noticed by the homeowner.

Health Problems

We&rsquove talked about the physical damage, but now it&rsquos time to talk about the potential health problems. Termites can cause health problems for people prone to allergies or asthma. Termite pellets can be harmful if it makes contact with your skin and causes an allergic reaction. Because termites thrive in moisture damp wood, they can come into contact with mold and have the potential to spread the mold. Flying Ants can bite, but they are not poisonous. Like flying termites, their main goal is to mate.

Is this a termite wing or flying ant wing - Biology

3 Differences Between Winged Termites and Winged Ants in Phoenix

Arizona's Experts Since 1969

Suddenly your yard or porch is covered in winged insects. They do not seem to fly very well, crashing into objects and not getting very far. They are here one day and gone the next. These are breeders looking to soon shed their wings and set up new colonies. Could they be merely ants or termites? Here are a few ways to tell.

1. Look At the Bodies

Ant bodies are much different in shape than termite bodies. Termites are shaped like tubes with rounded ends. Ants have large heads and pinched or wasp waists. Ants have waists like wasps because they are related to wasps. Termites are related to cockroaches and therefore have less curvy bodies.

2. Look At the Antennae

Antennae look like little legs on the insect’s head. In ants, each antenna is bent as if there was joint in the middle of the antenna. In termites, an antenna is straight. When insects die, the antennae may get crumpled, so try to look at how the antennae are shaped while the insects are still alive. If this is impossible, take a dead insect, place it in a resealable bag and call an exterminator to make a positive identification.

3. Look at the Wings

Both winged ants and winged termites will sport two sets of wings. In the ant, the first set of wings (the pair near the head) are much longer than the second set. With termites, both sets of wings are the same length. Ant wings are smaller in proportion to their body size. Termite wings are nearly twice as long as their bodies. Both flying ants and termites shed their wings after they fly from the nests where they were hatched. You may see a large pile of wings and not a single insect.

Here&rsquos What To Know If You Find Yourself Wondering Whether It&rsquos a Flying Ant or a Termite

We hope it never comes up, but we&rsquove got you covered just in case.

I didn’t know flying ants existed until about three days after I found my children dropping Honey Nut Cheerios down one of our air registers. It’s wasn’t a great revelation. At first, we assumed they were termites. Panic ensued. We had termite specialists out to our house within 24 hours, and they quickly put our fears to rest. Our little (uninvited) friends were flying ants—not the lumber ravaging creatures we first suspected. If you ever find yourself in a similar creepy, crawly situation, here are a few key differences to help differentiate the two.

Flying Ant vs Termite Antennae

If you have good eyes you might be able to spot this defining feature from the get-go. A termite will have straight antennae, while those of flying ants are bent.

Flying Ant vs Termite Body Shape

Ants have a defined head, thorax, and abdomen. When you spot a termite, it will look like a little peg with a straight shape—no pinched-in waist.

Flying Ant vs Termite Wing Shape

If you’re looking at a creature with two wings, the top being longer than the bottom, then you’re looking at a flying ant. Termites will also have two sets of wings, but they’ll both be the same length.

Flying Ant vs Termite Food Sources

Wood, fabric, and even carpet can all be a part of a termite&aposs well-balanced diet. They leave the crumbs, seeds, and plant nectar to the ants. So the sticky Cheerios (as they’re called in my house) that attracted these little flyers to begin with were quite the telltale sign. Termites wouldn’t be at all interested. But, what about the carpenter ants? They eat wood, right? Wrong. Carpenter ants make their home in decayed wood, but don’t actually eat it. They just chew it up until it has a sawdust-like consistency—yikes.

WATCH: The Best Way To Control Fire Ants

I’m happy to report that the problem has since been remedied. My family can sleep soundly knowing we are in a flying-ant-free household once more.

Termites or Winged Ants? How to Tell the Difference

Termites. They're as small as ants, but when they work together, they cause more than $5 billion in damage in the U.S. each year, according to the National Pest Management Association.Termites don't just cause cosmetic damage. They eat into the very structure of your home -- the support beams, floor joists, posts, ceiling joists and wall studs.

Determining whether you have flying ants, or winged termites is important in how you treat the problem. Some flying winged ants resemble the winged-swarming termite.

• While both species have four wings, termite wings are uniform in size. Winged ants have noticeably larger wings in the front than the pair in the back.

• Termites antennae are almost straight where the ant's antennae is elbowed.

• Termite wings are twice as long as their body. Ant wings are shorter and more proportionate to their bodies.

• Ants appear distinctly segmented, because of their thin waist. Termites have a broad waist and are mostly a uniform width along their entire body.

Florida Pest Control has decades of experience preventing and controlling termites and can give you peace of mind with both pre-construction and post-construction treatments. We back up our termite control products and services with a renewable service agreement.

When Will You Typically See Ants With Wings?

Now that we've addressed the question "What are ants with wings?" the next step is to determine when you can expect to see them flying around.

Depending on the species, you can expect to see winged ants in the spring and fall.  Temperature and rainfall are common factors that trigger ants to swarm and mate.

In fact, ants of a common species (carpenter ants for example) that are from different colonies will often swarm at the same time due to a triggering effect. such as temperature or rainfall.

After mating with the queen, male ants will only live for a couple of months, then die. ਊ majority of flying ants will not pose any serious health concerns or inflict any damage to you or your home.

However, carpenter ants and termites (which are commonly mistaken for ants) will cause a lot of damage to your home, barn or other wooden structures.

Flying ants vs Termites Pictures, Size, Identification

It is also like a colony when flying ants or termite swarmer's appear. You'll see both of these insects swirling around a neighboring streetlight or outside lighting in your home if the swarm occurs at sunset. They will also be attracted by illumination coming out of your window panes. This sensitivity to light is also why these two bugs can most often be found creeping on the inside of your doors. They're trying to get outside in the sunshine.

When this occurs, you should also understand that this is a clear indicator that within your home, you have a developed ant or termite nest. If you see a lot of flying creatures, and you're not willing to get up close and personal, you can always tell which of these pests you're looking at by whether or not ants are creeping in their midst or surrounding. When swarmer's of ants and termites mate, they lose their feathers. But with winged termites, you're not going to see featherless termites roaming around. Within the wood, they'll be hidden away. That's why the appearance of ants is a symbol of the flying insects you're looking at. Winged termites are also very unlikely to be hiding out with wingless ants.

Flying ants vs Termites

The form and color of their wings is another difference between these two species that can be seen from a distance. Although there are four wings for all insects, these wings come in all kinds of shapes and colors. Termite swarmer's wings are white and stack up on top of each other. This makes the bolder white color, and the wings look as if they are one. It may look like small wings flapping on the floor as they crawl around with each other. Carpenter ants have pale yellow wings, which are more clear in color. These wings do not mount precisely on top of each other, producing a cleft at the center.

Catching one and looking at it closely and individually is the right way to describe what insect you're looking at. The first thing you'll notice — if you look at a termite — is that the feathers are about 1𔊫 or 1𔊪 inch longer than the body and, as described before, fully rounded at the edges. If you're looking at a flying ant, you're likely to find that there's also an unequal length of the two wings on either side, and the end is more elevated than the termite feathers.

They will appear like ants because flying ants are ants. That is to say, the separate, pinched waist of an ant will be on them. This pinch at the waist is not open to Termites.

The antennas on termites and ants are very distinctive as well. They have an elbow in their antennae, and they have an attach-like quality. Termite antennas tend to be made of several small balls piled on top of one another, and they are flat.

Termite swarmer's are slightly smaller than swarmer's with carpenter ants. But, since you probably won't find both of these insects swarming at the same moment in your house, it's not likely that this reality will help you decide which bug you have. However, it's nice to know that a carpenter ant swarmer can be as long as 12 - 17 mm. You likely have termites if you find feathered insects that are much shorter than this one.

It is essential to do anything about it if you notice feathered insects around your house. Although carpenter ants are definitely far less of a danger than termites, if left untreated, they can still do a considerable amount of harm. Often, carpenter ants are a danger sign that water is damaging your house. In order to create their passages and nest openings, these insects love natural or decayed wood. It can be really bad for the value of your house if you have a damaged or blocked gutter system.

What’s The Difference Between Termites and Flying Ants?

Let’s find out what are the differences between termites and flying ants in terms of appearance, behavior, and diet.

Ants have pinched waists and elbowed antennae. Their bodies could be reddish, brown, or black. They have two sets of wings which vary in size and brown-colored.

In contrast, termites have wider bodies and straight antennae but don’t have pinched waists. Normally, they are dark brown or black in color.

However, flying termites or swarmers have back wings with similar length as well as a clear front.

In terms of diet, flying ants and termites greatly differ. Termites forage on cellulose a material that is commonly seen in plants while ants are omnivores.

Primarily, flying ants eat food debris inside and around homes, other insects, seeds, and nectar. Termites, on the other hand, mainly consume paper, wood, and other products that are cellulose-based.

Both termites and ants live in big colonies that have labeled caste systems. However, flying ants live in wood. Similarly, termites can be also found in wooded structures, lumber, wood debris, stumps, and decaying trees.

But unlike ants, termites can cause extensive structural damage because they feed on the wood.

Here a great video explanation about the difference:

Flying Termite Control in West Palm Beach

If you find termite wings, winged termites or flying termites in West Palm Beach, don&rsquot panic. After all, knowledge is always the first step in developing a proper response to a pest control issue.

You now know a whole lot about termites and as one of the best termite control companies in South Florida, we&rsquod be glad to provide a free termite inspection if you live or work in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami Dade, Martin or St. Lucie counties.

If you believe you have termites in the West Palm Beach area, or have found termite wings in your home or business, or want to initiate termite prevention to avoid having them in the future, call us today to schedule a free termite inspection and get started with our termite control service.

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