Flying ants tend to travel in swarms and show up when the weather is warm. During the summer months, you might notice them flying in your yard or even in your home. It’s not always easy to tell flying ants apart from termites, but there are a few main differences. Take a closer look at the body and shape of the insect to figure out what you’re dealing with and how to better eliminate them.

What Are Flying Ants?

What's the Deal With Flying Ants?
Image via Flickr by Ettore Balocchi

Flying ants are fertile male and female ants that fly around to find mates. The purpose of their wings is to fly, locate other fertile ants, and reproduce to start new colonies. There are a few species that are exceptions to this rule, since some have winged worker ants. However, most of the flying ants you see are not workers and are seeking mates. After mating, the queen ants will shed their wings and live the rest of their lives without the ability to fly.

Why Do Flying Ants Swarm?

Catching a glimpse of ants in a swarm — or worse, getting caught in the swarm — can be very disconcerting if you’ve never experienced it before. When they begin to fly, birds often take notice and will begin feasting on the ants. They travel in swarms to protect themselves and continue to expand the species. While the swarm isn’t dangerous to humans, the insects can get into your hair, face, or even mouth, so it’s best to stay away. Ants might swarm inside of your home, especially if they have established a colony on your property.

What Distinguishes Flying Ants From Termites?

All ant species have a unique body shape that makes them look different from other insects. Flying ants have two sets of wings. The first set sits on the front half of the body and is much smaller, while the second set is on the back. You might notice a slight brown tint to the wings. They also have elbow-shaped antennae, which is another distinguishing feature. Other flying insects, including termites, have straight antennae or no antennae at all. Termites also have a thicker body shape, while flying ants have a narrower waist in comparison to the abdomen and thorax.

Another way to tell the two types of insects apart is to consider the time of year that the swarm is taking place. Termites typically only swarm during springtime, while a flying ant swarm will usually occur in the summer months.

How Do I Get Rid of Flying Ants?

The first step in avoiding a flying ant swarm in your home is to seal the cracks, crevices, and other openings to the outdoors. This can prevent them from getting into your home in the first place. If you want to keep doors or windows open during the summertime, use fly screens to keep ants out. Elimination of flying ants that have made their way into your home often requires professional extermination services.

Protect yourself and your structure by knowing the difference between termites and flying ants and knowing what to do if you spot these insects.