When it comes to infestations, knowing the difference between ants vs. termites can help you better understand the urgency of hiring a pest control company. Ants and termites look similar, but they do different degrees of damage. 

Even if you are sure you have ants vs. termites, the pest control experts at Stampede Pest Control are ready to help remove them from your home. Call us for a quote and to schedule your pest control services. 

The Difference Between Ants and Termites

Ants and termites have some similarities, but they are strikingly different overall. Carpenter ants and termites do damage to homes made of wood. They both swarm in the spring, and the species that swarm have wings that make them look alike.

close up of a red ant


If you use a magnifying glass, you’ll see the subtle differences. Ants are usually dark colored, while termites are transparent or lightly colored, and you’ll only see them if something disturbs their nest. 

Body Shape

For example, segmented ants have narrow waists, while termites have a broad shape. The constricted abdomen is the first sign of an ant, while termites have a rectangular shape.


Both insects have antennae, but the termite antenna is easy to recognize thanks to the straight shape and the little beads or balls at the end. Ant antennae have a distinctive bend. 


Reproductive carpenter ants and termites have wings they use to find a new colony. Termites have two sets of wings that are uniform in size, while ants have asymmetrical wings. The front wings are large, while the rear wings are tiny. 

If it has wings, it is a reproductive carpenter ant or termite. They are known for swarming from the colony. There are several ways to tell reproductive carpenter ants and termites apart, but these differences may be challenging to see. Eventually, both insects drop their wings. If you see wings the same size, you have a termite infestation. Seeing wings of different sizes means you have an ant infestation. 


Termites eat wood to get cellulose. Carpenter ants do not eat wood, but they excavate it to make their nests within wooden structures. Carpenter ants eat other insects. Both damage homes, but termites do more.


Many homeowners don’t realize they have termites until they hear them or see droppings or wings. Subterranean termites make mud tubes near home foundations. You might hear termites in your walls, especially if the colony has grown. 

If you have carpenter ants, you’ll see them. They leave their nests to find food. You also see wings and occasional droppings.


Moisture and wood attract ants and termites. Carpenter ants look for food, so they’ll crawl on window sills and baseboards, looking for other insects to eat. 

Life Cycle Differences

Ants and termites move through distinctive life cycle changes. Ants move through egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Termites have the egg, nymph, and adult phases. 

Ant queens live for several years, while the workers have a lifespan of a few months. Termite queens can live for decades, and worker termites live for a few years. 

Both insects have fertile winged members that move to new nests to mate and begin a new colony. The male ants die after mating, while male and female termites live and grow their colonies. Once they breed, ants and termites lose their wings. 

Flying Ants vs. Termites

close up of a winged ant colony on the ground

Carpenter ants fly when they are swarming to mate and start a new nest. If you see a flying ant, it could be a carpenter ant. They look like flying termites. The best way to distinguish the difference is to look for wings on the ground or to look closely at the insects with a magnifying glass to see their body shape, color, and antennae. 

Not Sure if You Have Ants or Termites? Give Us a Call!

Carpenter ants and termites do damage to homes behind the scenes. While termites eat structural wood, ants excavate it to build their nests. Contact us today for a free quote for pest control that is guaranteed to work.