Flying ants and termite swarmers are frequently mistaken for one another. And if you’re a homeowner, spotting a cloud of flying insects is usually an unwelcome sight – especially if you suspect they might be flying termites. Flying ants and termites do have some key differences to note, and our experts break them down below.
Do Termites Fly?
Certain types of termites do fly, and spotting flying termites may be a sign that an infestation is beginning. When the weather warms up, termite colonies often begin to release reproductive winged termite swarmers, also known as alates, whose main purpose is to fly away, mate, and find a place to start a new colony. This typically occurs during termite swarming season, beginning in early spring as the weather warms up. At the same time, winged ants often leave their nests for the same purpose. Unfortunately, it can be hard to determine which flying insect is which. Making this distinction can be a big deal, as termites eat the cellulose found in wood and can cause major damage to nearby wooden structures if they are allowed to start new colonies.
How to Tell the Difference Between Flying Ants and Flying Termites
Both termite and ant colonies will release their winged reproductive swarmers about mid-morning on the warm day that follows a rainy day in the spring or summer. Since termite swarmers are poor fliers, they can only tolerate a light breeze. If the wind picks up, they will cease swarming and try again later that day or on another day. Also, termites have trouble controlling moisture loss from their bodies, so a calm day with high humidity is ideal for a successful swarm.