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Morse Termite and Pest Control
P.O. Box 1155
Clovis, CA 93613
(559) 325-9400
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Home > Termites and Inspections > Ants or Termites

Flying Ants or Flying Termites?

Ants and termites both release flying reproductives to start new colonies. We call these winged reproductives "swarmers".

Because they look so similar, termite swarmers are often confused with ant swarmers. However, once you know what to look for, they are fairly easy to distinguish from each other.

Here's how to tell them apart:


Elbowed antenna

Constricted waist

Two long outer wings, two short inner wings

Keep wings after flying


Beaded and flexible antenna

 Thick waist

 All four wings the same length

 Drop wings after flying

*Drywood termites-

Dark wings with brown body and reddish brown head
*Subterranean termites-

Clear wings with black body and head

* NOTE: This information applies to termite species commonly encountered in the central San Joaquin Valley of California. Different species occur in other parts of the country. Appearance and behavior may vary substantially.

To learn more about termites click the termites at the left.


Swarming Season

Ants and termites do not swarm at the same time. Here’s a good rule of thumb about their timing (in central California):

If you see "flying ants" in the late summer or autumn, you're very likely seeing drywood termite swarmers.
If you see "flying ants" in the winter or spring (perhaps right after a rain storm) you are probably seeing subterranean termite swarmers.
If you see "flying ants" in the early to mid-summer, you are probably seeing flying ants. (Call us for an estimate for pest control service.)


Remember, there are a lot of variables involved with insect behavior. Don't let this general guideline be your only source of identification! The best thing to do when you find any of these insects is to call a professional for an identification. If you live within our service area we'll be happy to stop by at no charge.

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