It is not uncommon for people to confuse a termite swarmer and a winged ant.  Every year we receive several phone calls from homeowners in extreme panic mode because they have had a swarm inside their home.  Thousands and thousands of winged insects all over.  In most cases, it turns out that they just had a harmless ant swarm.  Thus, it is critical that proper insect identification is performed if you have any type of swarm.  This confusion is normal because of the similarities between winged ants and termite swarmers in appearance and time of year that they swarm. 

However, upon looking at each species, there are several key things in appearance that make them different. 

  • Termites eat and damage wood for it nutrients, whereas non-wood eating ants do not.
  • A termite swarmer’s body looks like black piece of rice with a head on top.  No separation of body parts.  Whereas with an ant swarmer (winged ant), their body likes that of an ant where it has three segmented body parts (head, middle and rear).
  • The termite swarmer’s wings are the same size and fall off in short period of time from them emerging from the nest.  With ants, they also have dual wings, but one set is bigger than the other and they don’t typically lose their wings so after emerging from the nest.
  • Generally speaking, termite swarmers will emerge from the nest early in the spring when the ground is moist and the temperature is mild, around the 60 degrees.  With ant swarmers, they can swarm, depending upon the species, at various times a year.  Some at the same time as termite swarmers and others throughout the year. 


The one positive thing about termite swarmers is that they at times can be an early detection method for letting a homeowner know that they have a termite infestation.  Because termites can go unnoticed for several years as they eat away at your home, if they swarm in your home, this may alert you of their presence.  You may find the actual termite swarmers, large piles of termite wings in windows sills or on the floor or stuck in a spider webbing in corners.  In any case, if you have any type of swarm, call Alliance today for proper insect identification of the type of swarmer.      

When termite colonies reach full maturity, winged adult termites emerge from the colony as termite swarmers.  The timeframe of when they emerge from the colony will vary depending upon the weather conditions.  In the Northeast, swarming is at its highest with the rising temperatures as spring approaches.  Typically, termites avoid light sources.  However, when swarming begins this behavior is altered.  In a short period of time, the termite swarmers come bursting out of even the smallest of holes, cracks and related areas.  The swarmers emerge from specially designed termite swarming tubes that are made from the termite workers.  The termite swarmers may swarm inside or outside. 

After the termites swarm, swarmers pair and mate and look to reenter the ground to start a new termite colony (also referred to as Budding).  However, when termite swarm on the inside of a home or structure, they rarely survive because of their inability to reenter into the soil after mating.  This occurs when the termite swarm tube is constructed on the inside of a home or structure and the queen thinks that when they swarm is will be on the exterior.  If swarming occurs, contact Alliance Pest Services for a free in home termite evaluation today.   

Termites can cause severe damage to homes and properties over long periods of time.  The termite services that Alliance Pest Services provides are as follows:

  1. Structural Damage Repair for homes and buildings.
  2. Real Estate Inspections and HUD Reports.
  3. Full or Spot Treatments with termiticides.
  4. Termite Monitoring and termite bait stations.

Call Alliance Pest Services today for a Free Termite Inspection and in home evaluation.