Updated: March 1, 2023
ant and termite comparison
Termite swarmer on the left, ant on the right. Photo: D. Clement

Comparing winged ants and termites

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.

drawing comparing details of a termite and an ant
Diagram courtesy of USDA Forest Service Archive, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org


flying ant
Flying ant (notice the pinched waist)
Photo: F. E. Wood


termite swarmer and ant
Termite swarmer versus a flying ant
Photo: EPA


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