Ants or Termites? How to tell when they’ve arrived!


Spring is in the air! Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and unfortunately, pests are emerging. With the arrival of warmer temperatures, pests end their hibernation periods and become active. Two pests guaranteed to be on the move and bothering homeowners are ants and termites.

During spring and early summer, flying ants and termites swarm. Large groups of these species take flight, searching and establishing colonies during breeding season. Failing to correctly identify these species, along with missing the key signs of an infestation, can lead to the establishment of colonies in your home.

Identifying the differences between termites and flying ants.

Termites vs. Flying Ants

Flying ants can easily be mistaken for termites. But here are some of the key differences between the two species:

  • Termites have straight antennae; flying ants have elbowed antennae.
  • Termites have a broad waistline; flying ants have a constricted waistline.
  • Termite wings are the same size; a flying ant will have larger front wings and smaller back wings.

To help distinguish between an ant or a termite, watch this quick video.


Identifying Common Household Ants

Ants are the most common pest control challenge in America, with more than 80% of homeowners experiencing problems.* Identifying ants can help you determine the best treatment method, which is why contacting a professionals often the best way to control an ant problem. Whether you attempt to tackle the problem yourself or contact a pest expert, here are few key identifiers of the most common types of ants.

Carpenter Ants

With an affinity for wood, carpenter ants can cause structural damage, tunneling through trees, lumber, roofs, and other sources of wood near moisture. They are distinguished by their red and black coloring and their large size, about five-eighths of an inch. There are multiple variations of their species in the U.S., and some types can be aggressive and will sting when disturbed.

Odorous House Ants

Odorous house ants or “stink ants” rightfully earn their name! When crushed, these ants emit a rotten or coconut-like smell. Odorous house ants are dark brown to black in color and one-eighth to three-sixteenths of an inch in size. You can find them nesting in dark, damp places and seeking food sources, particularly sweet snacks. These ants do not bite, sting, or cause structural damage, but they can contaminate food.

Pharaoh Ants

Not selective eaters, pharaoh ants will eat even toothpaste and shoe polish. One-sixteenth of an inch long and usually pale, their color varies from yellow to red, with typically dark abdomens. While they do not sting or cause structural damage, they carry and spread pathogens, along with bacteria.

Fire Ants

fire ant
A fire ant on a log.

The most common and bothersome type of outdoor ant, these species are known for being aggressive – biting and then stinging any person or creature that disrupts their mound. A small yet vicious creature, they are identified by their yellowish-red to black colors. Fire ants live outdoors, under shrubs, trees, and near homes.

Crazy Ants

Crazy ants get their name from their erratic and fast-moving behavior. A black and brown ant, they are usually one-sixteenth to one-eighth of an inch long. These ants build colonies in shaded areas, including under piles of leaves and around rocks. Preferring humidity and warm temperatures, crazy ants are usually found in the Gulf Coast region and southeastern U.S. While crazy ants can bite, a fire ant’s sting is usually more painful.

ant problem
Ants hard at work finding a food source.

Preventing an Ant Infestation

Ants can present serious problems inside and outside of your home, contaminating food, biting humans, and causing damage to property. They can also be difficult to control and treat once established. To minimize your risk, take these steps:

  • Eliminate food sources.
  • Examine your property for moisture and standing water.
  • Caulk and close all entry points.
  • Trim bushes and hedges touching your home.

Have you spotted a few ants? What may appear to be a couple of crawlers may actually mean that ants are setting up shop in the crevices and crannies of your home. Visit or call 877-461-7378 if you need help treating ants or other common household pests.

*Survey of national homeowners by HomeTeam Pest Defense, 2012.

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