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How to Identify if It’s Termites vs. Flying Ants in Massachusetts

  Carpenter Ants Termites
Body Shape Hourglass shape with a narrow waist Straight body with no distinct waist
Wings Front wings larger than hind wings held flat over the body Both pairs of wings are roughly the same size, held perpendicular to the body
Antennae Elbowed antennae Straight antennae
Color Black, brown, or red Light colored, usually white or pale yellow
Habitat Nest in wood Nest in wood or soil
Diet Feed on nectar and other insects Feed on wood and plant material
Damage Can cause damage to structures but not as quickly as termites Can cause extensive damage to structures and homes
Role in ecosystem Pollinators and predators of other insects Important decomposers and aerators of the soil
Reproductive cycle Males and females mate during a nuptial flight and then form new colonies Males and females mate during a nuptial flight and then form new colonies

Are you worried about flying insects around your home or office? We get it! Misidentifying a winged termite as a flying ant could cost you thousands of dollars in property damage.

Although termites and flying ants are two very different species of insects, it can be relatively difficult to distinguish one from the other. Generally, termites have a wider body, smaller wings, and a white or cream-colored body.

Flying ants, on the other hand, have narrower bodies, can be darker in color, and have long wings that extend beyond their bodies, but this isn't always the case. While termite wings are the same size, flying ants’ wings can be different sizes.

Considering these pests tend to make themselves present around the same time of year, and the same time of the day, an expert's opinion is often required.

Don't stress; Ransford Pest Control is here to help you proactively identify winged termites and flying ants so you can get rid of these pests before they become a bigger problem!

When is Swarming Season in Massachusetts?

Most of the year in Massachusetts you'd never know carpenter ants or termites even exist! This is because carpenter ants are primarily nocturnal, and due to the fact, that outside of swarming season, termites are subterranean (under the ground), it's really an out of site out of mind situation until spring. Springtime in Massachusetts means more than just increased flowers and warmer weather - it is also the beginning of the Subterranean Termite and Ant Swarming Season. The season typically begins in April and can last until June, when these pests emerge from their nests and swarm, looking for mates and new nesting sites.

What About Non-winged Termites and Ants?

Although spring's ant and termite swarming season is the most common time of year Ransford hears complaints of termites, residents should also be aware that non-winged Termites, just like carpenter ants (who can also inhabit wood), can also be active during the late summer and fall (August - November).

By understanding these seasonal patterns, homeowners can better prevent or mitigate potentially costly problems caused by termite infestations. By keeping an eye out for signs that termite season has begun - not just swarmers themselves but things like mud tubes or damage to wooden structures — those living in Massachusetts can start to take action against unwanted visitors before it's too late.

How Do I Identify a Termite Swarmer From a Flying Ant?

First, it's important to note that not all flying insects around your home or building are termite swarmers, or even flying ants, for that matter. Regardless, every spring, homeowners around the country mistake flying ants for termite swarmers since both possess wings and look similar from afar. To properly identify termites vs. flying ants, consider these differences:

• The body of a termite swarmer is typically a straight, broad waist and is shaped like a cigar, vs. a flying ant's body with jointed body segments and an hourglass-shaped waist.

  • Termites are usually white or cream-colored bodies, while flying ants are darker in color.
  • Termites have straight antennae, while a flying ant's antennas are bent.

• Termites have long wings that correspond accurately in size and length, vs. ants typically have two sets of unequal-sized wings – front and back.

• Between its legs, the abdomen of a termite will have small round projections, vs. an ant’s abdomen lacks any projections.​

When Should I Be Concerned?

If you see peculiar discolorations on wooden structures or windowsills inside or outside your home paired with the sighting of swarms of winged insects, it is highly likely they are termite swarmers in search of nesting sites, strongly suggesting the presence of a current termite infestation or an impending one in the near future that can cause expensive wood damage.

How Can I Take Early Action Against Termites?

If you confirm that the bugs you’re seeing are, in fact, termite swarmers, it’s best to seek professional help as soon as possible and request an expedited termite inspection. At Ransford, our pest control experts will quickly identify any type of termites, ants, and other winged or un-winged insects in and around your home; it's what we've done since 1896.

Dealing with active infestations requires experienced pest control professionals and/or certified exterminators with advanced tools and techniques, especially if using the least toxic approach possible is important to your family, so don't go at it alone!

Furthermore, ensuring a timely extermination can save you thousands, if not millions, in structural damage repair costs later on when significant foundation damage has occurred due to such infestations going unnoticed over time.

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