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Winged insects

Seeing Winged Termites in Your Home? Why That Could Be a Bad Sign

Have you noticed winged insects at home but can't tell if they're ants or termites? This guide will help! Be warned—winged termites, or "swarmers," could signal the start of an infestation, threatening your home's integrity and peace. Surprisingly, termites cost U.S. homeowners 5 billion dollars yearly! So read on to learn identification tips and prevention strategies to protect your property from these pests.

Key Takeaways

  • Identify winged termites by their straight antennae and equal-length wings, unlike ants, which have elbowed antennae and unequal wing lengths.
  • The presence of termite swarms indoors often signals the start of a new colony, hinting at potential wood damage and need for immediate action.
  • Spot Drywood termites by wings shed near wood fixtures. Look for mud tubes as a sign of Subterranean termites and large numbers of swarmers indicating Formosan termites.
  • Keep wood piles distant, seal entry points, maintain dry conditions, and schedule professional inspections to deter termites.

Is It an Ant or a Termite?

When you spot flying insects in your home, discerning whether they are ants or termites is crucial. Flying ants are characterized by their narrow, pinched waists, elbowed antennae, and wings of different lengths — the front pair being larger than the rear. These features are often visible to the naked eye and can help you quickly identify them as ants. There are many types of ants, so ensure you look closely!

On the other hand, termites have noticeably straighter waists, beaded antennae that appear in a straight line, and wings that are uniform in length. Seeing insects with these traits, mainly when the wings are of equal size, often means termites are present. Such sightings, especially of flying termites known as “swarmers,” could indicate that a new termite colony is seeking a place to establish itself, potentially within your home's structure. 

winged ant vs winged termite comparison


Winged Ants

Winged Termites


Narrow and pinched

Thick and straight



Straight and beaded

Wing Size

Unequal, with hind wings smaller

Equal, both pairs are the same

Wing Attachment

Wings attached at a point

Wings attached along a line

Wing Texture

Thinner with few veins

Thicker with more veins

Wing Durability

Stronger, less likely to detach

Fragile, easily shed


Darker bodies

Lighter, often translucent wings

Time of Swarm

After rain, in bright sunlight

Often at dusk, less dependent on weather

Swarm Behavior

Disperse quickly, don’t infest

Swarm in place, looking to infest

Wood Damage

Less likely, unless carpenter ants

Very likely, especially drywood and subterranean termites

Winged Termites in Your Home? It’s a Swarm

If you spot winged termites in your home, you're likely witnessing flying termite swarms. This phenomenon is a casual social gathering of these insects and a significant event in the termite life cycle. Swarming is how reproductive termites, also known as “alates,” embark on their journey to establish a new colony, and your home might be their chosen destination.

During the swarm, these winged termites take flight in search of a suitable location to start their new family. If that location turns out to be within your premises, you could be dealing with a potential termite infestation. This is a warning sign for homeowners, so don’t take it lightly. 

Understanding this behavior of termites is the first step towards effective termite control. Now, let’s consider three types of termites you could be dealing with.

Drywood Termite Swarm

Drywood termites, as their name suggests, prefer dry wood. If you're spotting swarmers or discarded wings near wooden furniture or window sills, you may be dealing with a drywood termite problem. Drywood termites create their colonies inside the wood they infest, making them harder to spot until significant damage has been done.

Unlike subterranean termites, they don’t require contact with the soil. They get all the moisture they need from the wood they consume. This means even your attic and wooden furniture are unsafe from these destructive pests.

Subterranean Termite Swarm

Unlike their drywood counterparts, subterranean termites are notorious for building their colonies in the soil, hence their name. If you notice mud tubes on your property's exterior walls or swarmers near soil-filled areas around your home, you might be facing a subterranean termite invasion. These pests can cause extensive damage, as they can build intricate tunnels and pathways throughout your property to reach their food source.

The primary concern here is that these termites will feast on cellulose-based materials, including but not limited to wood, cardboard, and paper. This risks your home's structure, beloved books, valuable documents, and even insulation materials.

Formosan Termite Swarm

Formosan termites are subterranean termites known for their aggressive behavior and the extensive damage they can cause. Originating from China, they've spread to various parts of the world, including the southern United States. You might be dealing with a Formosan termite infestation if you encounter many swarmers in and around your home.

They are often called the “super termite” because their colony size, which can number in the millions, is significantly larger than other termite colonies. The queen of a Formosan colony can lay about 1,000 eggs per day, contributing to rapid colony growth. If you notice a moist, carton-like material in your home's structures, you're likely seeing the nests of these termites.

How to Prevent Termites From Getting Inside Your Home

Preventing termites from invading your home involves a few straightforward steps you can do yourself. Here are some effective strategies to keep these destructive creatures at bay:

  • Keep Wood Away from Your House: Avoid storing wood piles near your home, as they attract termites. If you need to store wood, keep it elevated off the ground and as far away from your home as possible.
  • Seal Cracks and Holes: Termites can enter your home through the tiniest cracks. Regularly inspect your property for any holes or cracks and seal them promptly.
  • Ensure Proper Ventilation: Termites thrive in moist conditions. Therefore, ensure that your home, particularly your basement and attic, are well-ventilated to prevent moisture accumulation.
  • Regular Inspection: Schedule regular pest inspections with a professional pest control service. They can help detect early signs of termite infestation.
  • Use Termite-Resistant Wood: When building or renovating your home, use termite-resistant wood. This might cost more upfront but will save you significant repair costs.
  • Trim Trees and Shrubs: Regularly trim trees and shrubs near your home. Overgrown vegetation can provide a bridge for termites to reach your house. Stumps should be removed if possible as well.

Professional Termite Control Services in South Florida

Protecting your home from termites requires precision and expertise. Native Pest Management specializes in comprehensive termite inspections and tailored treatments prioritizing environmental friendliness. Our experienced exterminators are dedicated to maintaining the integrity of your home. Consider contacting us today to discuss creating a thorough defense against termite damage!