University of Maryland Extension

Ant vs Termite

termite and ant

Termite swarmer on left, ant on right

How do I tell the difference between a winged ant and a termite?

Flying ants may be distinguished from termites by the following:


  • Elbowed antennae.
  • Front wings longer than hind wings, tinted brown.
  • Pinched or "wasp-waist".
  • Body black, brown or reddish.


  • Straight antennae.
  • Front and hind wings similar in shape and or equal length, pale, translucent.
  • Body extends straight back from head, does not have pinched or "wasp-waist".
  • Body blackish-brown to black.

diagram of termite and an ant

Diagram courtesy of USDA Forest Service Archive, USDA Forest Service,

flying ant

Flying ant (notice the pinched waist)


Termite swarmer versus a flying ant

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