Difference between Flying Ants and Termites

January 14, 2017 by Editorial Team

Insects are all around us. Some are commonly found in our homes. A few of these insects are considered to be pests. Among the common home pests are flying ants and termites. Most of us find it hard to set the two apart as they look quite alike. But if you look closely, you’ll be able to see what differentiates flying ants from termites. Read on and discover their differences.


A flying ant

Flying ants belong to the order Hymenoptera, similar to wasps and bees. They are found in almost all continents except Antarctica. Most ants are black, red or brown in color. They have three main body parts: the head, thorax and abdomen. Flying ants have a pinched waist and elbowed antennae. Their front wings are longer than the back wings.

The developmental stages of flying ants are: the egg, larva, pupa, and adult. They live in colonies where each ant has its own role. They have queens, workers, soldiers and drones. The female ants are the ones who build the colony. The males die after reproduction. Ants are known to be very good scavengers. They seem to appear out of nowhere and are very efficient at collecting food. In some cultures, ants are eaten or used for medication.

A termite

The word termite is derived from the Latin word termes, which means “woodworm or white ant.” Termites were noted to have evolved from cockroaches. They belong to the order Isoptera with iso meaning “equal” and ptera meaning “winged.” Thus, the termite’s front and back wings are equal in length. Their wing length is twice their body length. Termites are usually black. Their bodies are in two segments: the head and thorax. They have a tubular body and straight antennae.

Termites develop from a larva to a nymph to an adult. They also live in colonies. Their roles are classified as kings, queens, workers and soldiers. Both male and female termites help build the colony. They lose their wings after mating. Termites usually feed on dead plants, wood, soil and manure. Similar to ants, they are found in all continents except Antarctica. They are also considered a delicacy in certain cultures and are sometimes used for traditional medicine.


Flying ants have a bent antennae while the termites’ are straight. A flying ant’s body is segmented into three sections: head, thorax and abdomen. A termite just has two body parts: head and thorax. Flying ants have a pinched waist whereas termites have a tubular body. Unequal wings is characteristic of a flying ant compared to a termite’s equal wing length. For ants, females are the ones responsible to build the colony. This is unlike the termites, where both males and females help build their colony.

Comparison Chart

Flying AntsTermites
Antennae is bentAntennae is straight
Body is divided into 3 segments: head, thorax, abdomenBody is divided into 2 segments: head and thorax
Has a pinched waistHas a tubular body – consistent shape throughout
Unequal wing length – front wings are larger than the back wingsEqual length of wings for both front and back
Females build the colony and the males die after reproductionBoth males and females build the colony and lose their wings after they mate


Watch this video to determine the characteristics that help distinguish a flying ant from a termite.