Ants vs Termites: What’s the Difference?

Ants and termites aren’t as closely related as you may think. Termites are actually more closely related to cockroaches than to ants, but many people mistake termites and ants for each other. They do, however, have very similar behavioral practices.


  • Evolved from wasp-like ancestors about 110 million years ago
  • Feed on almost anything
  • About 12,000 known species in the world
  • Live out in the open
  • Very defensive of their nests


  • Lived on Earth for approximately 250 million years
  • Feed only on wood
  • About 2,300 species known worldwide
  • Typically lighter colored, white to tan
  • Stay as underground as possible

If your home has been infested with termites, you will not typically see them because they live underground, but if you see a winged bug that you think may be a termite, this list may help you determine if you need to call for a termite inspection.


Winged Ants & Winged Termites


Winged Ants

  • Bent or curved antennae
  • Pinched waist (wasp-like)
  • Two sets of wings, the front wings being much larger
  • Swarm late spring/summer

Winged Termites

  • Straight antennae
  • Narrow body
  • Two sets of wings, equally sized
  • Attracted to lights
  • Shed their wings then breed to start new colony
  • Swarm in the spring

When you see ant or termite swarms, it is typically because they are attempting to start a new colony. The two can be very similar in color, so look for these other traits to be sure what you are dealing with. Termites damage about 600,000 homes in the U.S. per year, so make sure it’s not happening to you!

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