Flying termites can resemble many winged bugs that get inside your home.
The sightings of these winged bugs are more regular than flying termites.
So, when the flying termites actually invade your home, you may brush them off as one of these winged nuisance bugs.
That’s the most expensive mistake that you’ll ever make.
And the result of this mistake?
A massive termite infestation in your home that will cost you a fortune!
In this guide, you’ll find three bugs that look like flying termites.
You’ll learn how to identify these winged bugs.
You’ll also find out the crucial differences between these winged bugs and flying termites, especially in their anatomy and behavior.
That’s not all. You’ll find ways to stop these flying termites’ look-alikes to enter your home, without spending a fortune.
Keep reading to know more!
What Do Flying Termites Look Like
Before you find out what bugs look like flying termites, you must know what flying termites look like.
It’s because if you don’t, then you won’t be able to tell if the winged bugs inside your home are flying termites or flying termites look-alikes.
Here’s how to identify flying termites –
Size: ¼ of an inch to ⅜ of an inch.
Color: Brownish or blackish. The soldier flying termites are darker than the worker flying termites.
Number of wings: Four transparent wings of equal sizes.
Antennae: Two, on the head.
Behavior – Flying termites always move in swarms. Rarely you’ll find a solitary flying termite. Even if you find one, there is undoubtedly a swarm of flying termites nearby.
Keep the above figures in mind. It’ll help you to compare it with the flying termites’ look-alikes that this post will reveal to you in a minute.
Flying termites are reproductive termites. They’re called alates.
Alates leave their current nests or colonies because there’s not enough space in the nests to accommodate them.
They’ll leave the nests in swarms. Upon leaving, alates or flying termites will look for a new place to invade and establish a colony.
When they reach a new home, they mate, lose their wings, and drill into the wooden structure of the homes.
Inside the wood, the termites will eat the wood, breed, lay eggs, and they won’t stop till they destroy all the wood in the home.
But flying termites don’t eat wood. As long as they’ve got wings, they aim to mate and get inside a new place to start a colony.
Their feeding starts once they lose their wings, finish their mating ritual, and get inside the wood.
That’s why flying termites are a precursor to a massive termite infestation waiting to happen.
But the bugs that look like flying termites are so regular that you won’t recognize them when your home is under attack from flying termites.
Therefore, it’s crucial for your and your home’s safety that you recognize the termite look-alikes.
And the following section reveals winged bugs inside the home that look like flying termites.
3 Bugs That Look Like Flying Termites
The bugs that look like flying termites aren’t as destructive as flying termites.
But these winged bugs inside the home can also inflict damage on different materials in your home.
And one of these winged bugs looks so similar to flying termites that it can make you think they’re flying termites.
So, here are the winged bugs that will confuse you with flying termites.
Flying Ants – The Closest Look-alike Of Flying Termites
Unless you observe them closely, flying ants look so similar to flying termites that it’s impossible to distinguish them from flying termites.
But if you know what to look for in the flying ants, which is pretty easy to do, you’ll be able to spot the difference like an expert.
Like the flying termites, the flying ants are also alates.
It means that these are reproductive ants of carpenter ants.
Like the flying termites, the flying carpenter ants also leave their nests that they build inside wooden structures.
But do carpenter ants eat wood? No, they don’t.
The carpenter ants will only drill holes in the wood to lay eggs. The larvae from the eggs remain inside the wood.
The larvae look like a white, legless grub resembling a maggot.
The larvae of carpenter ants don’t eat the wood either.
The worker carpenter ants carry the food to the larvae and feed them. That’s one of the reasons of sightings of carpenter ants in the home carrying food crumbs.
Once the larva develops wings, it drills holes on the wood from inside and leaves the nest.
Like the flying termites, they move in swarms looking for new wooden structures to lay eggs after mating.
So, how would you recognize it’s a flying ant?
Here are the features of flying carpenter ants that distinguish them from flying termites.
Size – 0.7 inches. They’re bigger than flying termites that grow up to 3/8th of an inch.
Color – Black. Some may be dark brown. But unlike flying termites, they’re never in lighter shades.
Wings – Like the flying termites, the flying ants also have four wings.
But the significant difference is that the front wings are big and the rear wings are small. Flying termites’ wings are of equal size.
Antennae – Like the flying termites, the flying ants have two antennae on their head.
But the antennae is also a distinguishable factor. The flying termites’ antennae are straight.
In contrast, the flying ants have L-shaped antennae.
Shape of the abdomen: Flying termites have an oblong-shaped abdomen. In comparison, the flying ants have a tear-dropped form or a heart-shaped abdomen.
Biting habits: Flying termites don’t bite. But flying ants can bite you, though it’s improbable.
When the flying ant is stationary, you’ll also notice the thorax and the head are prominent. They look more substantial than flying termites’ thorax and head.
Their behavior is so similar, like both flying ants and flying termites are attracted to light. Both of them move in swarms, and you can confuse between the two.
But even at a casual look, you’ll notice that the head and thorax of flying ants are more prominent and look more robust than flying termites’.
Mayflies – The Flying Bugs Of Wet Places Looks Like Flying Termites
Mayflies are winged bugs that look like flying termites when they’re flying.
But when they’re stationary, and if you know what mayflies look like, then you can tell that they’re not flying termites.
There are also some more reasons that you may think that flying termites are mayflies.
The first is the season when the mayflies are most active.
Mayflies are active during the spring and summer months. These are the months when the alates of drywood termites are also active.
The second reason is, like the flying termites, mayflies swarm too.
So, when they’re moving from one place to another, they move in a vast billowing swarm that resembles a swarm of flying termites.
The third reason is that mayflies become vigorously active after the rains. Flying termites also display this behavior.
After heavy rains flying termites can leave their nests or colonies in swarms.
And finally, the fourth reason is that light from your home attracts mayflies, just like it attracts flying termites.
Attracted by the light, mayflies will gather on the window screens, doors, and patio decks. It’s the exact behavior that flying termites display.
Given all these similarities, you can easily confuse flying termites with mayflies.
And as they’re more common than flying termites, you may discard them as mayflies when in actuality, they’re flying termites.
A big and costly mistake!
So, where do mayflies come from? And how do they show up in your home?
Mayflies lay their eggs in the water. The young mayflies, known as naiads, remain in the water until they turn into adults.
Naiads will feed on algae and small aquatic insects in the water.
So, if you’ve got a pond, fountain, swimming pool, and even waterholes in your yard or garden, there can be mayflies.
If you live near a marshland or swamp, river, and lake, then you’ll have swarms of mayflies invading your home during the mayfly season.
That’s why in Florida, where there are many swamps, mayflies are a big nuisance there.
So, what do mayflies look like? And how can you be sure that when you see flying termites, you don’t confuse them with mayflies?
Here are the features of mayflies –
Size: Adult mayflies grow up to an inch in length. So, they’re bigger than flying termites.
Color: They come in various colors, yellowish, brown, whitish, and greyish too.
In general, they’re always in lighter colors. In contrast, flying termites are mostly black or brown.
Wings: Mayflies have four wings. The wings are transparent, and the two front wings are bigger than the rear wings.
In flying termites, all four wings are of equal sizes.
When mayflies are stationary, they’ll fold their wings up together, and their abdomen is visible.
It’s the opposite in flying termites. When flying termites are stationary, the wings lay flat, covering the abdomen.
Antennae: Mayflies have short antennae, which are not visible when they’re idle. It’s because they stretch their front legs in front of their head, causing it impossible to notice the antennae.
However, the flying termites’ antennae are visible when they’re not flying.
Shape of the abdomen: Mayflies have a long thin visible abdomen. When they’re sitting, you’ll notice that there are 2 or 3 thin tails attached to the end of the abdomen.
The abdomen of flying termites isn’t visible most of the time when they’re stationary.
Biting habits: Mayflies are harmless winged bugs. They don’t bite because adult mayflies don’t have a functioning and developed mouthparts.
Mayflies don’t spread any disease either.
Mayflies are a critical indicator of our ecosystem’s health. It’s because they’re susceptible to toxins.
Mayflies cannot survive in the environment if there’s pollution in the water or poor air quality.
So, if you see mayflies around your home, then you’re pretty lucky to live in a clean environment.
Green Lacewing – The Beneficial Garden Bug That Resembles Flying Termites, To An Extent
If you’ve got a garden, then you’re no stranger to green lacewing flying bugs.
The chances are that you might have bought the larvae or eggs of these green lacewing so that when they turn into adults, they’ll protect your garden from plant damaging pests.
The larvae of the green lacewing bugs are beneficial garden bugs.
The larvae of green lacewing bugs eat damaging plant pests like aphids, thrips, spider mites, whitefly, chiggers, and mealybugs.
Upon hatching, the larvae of the green lacewing bugs roam the garden or yard to find and eat the plant pest eggs, larvae, and even the adults.
The feeding continues for three weeks. Then they build a cocoon, known as the pupa, and emerge out of it as an adult after two weeks.
After emerging out of the cocoon, the first thing that the adults do is, you guessed it right, mate.
It’s during this period they swarm.
That swarm of green lacewing bugs can give you the impression that they’re flying termites.
But homeowners with a garden or yard are used to the swarm of green lacewing bugs.
So, when the flying termites invade their homes, they think it’s a swarm of green lacewing bugs.
But there’s a difference between the swarm of flying termites and green lacewing bugs.
The green lacewing bugs don’t swarm in such huge numbers as the flying termites do.
How to tell the difference between green lacewing bugs and flying termites?
Thankfully, green lacewing bugs are the easiest to distinguish from flying termites.
Size: The adult green lacewing bugs grow up to 3/4th of an inch. So, they’re slightly bigger than flying termites, but you can’t find it out when you look at them.
That’s one of the reasons for confusion between green lacewing bugs and flying termites.
Color: The adult green lacewing bugs are green. But when they overwinter, their color changes to brown.
If you’re used to seeing green lacewing bugs turned brown, then you might turn a blind eye towards flying termites.
Wings: Like the flying termites, green lacewing bugs also have four wings of almost the same length.
And when they’re at rest, they keep their wings over one another, covering their abdomen.
It is very similar to what the flying termites do.
But there’s a catch.
The wings of the green lacewings are transparent, with membranous veins running vertically across the wing.
The wings are so transparent that the thin and long abdomen is visible through the wings.
Also, if you notice, you’ll find that their wings aren’t one over the other like they’re when the flying termite is at rest.
Green lacewing bugs keep their wings closed, but they’re at a 10-15 degree angle with the abdomen.
Antennae: When you look at the antennae, you can quickly tell whether it’s a green lacewing bug or a flying termite.
The antennae of green lacewing bugs are thin and long. In contrast, the antennae of flying termites are short.
Shape of the abdomen: The abdomen of the green lacewing bugs is thin and long. It’s soft, and you can see it through the wings.
The flying termite’s abdomen is oblong-shaped, and it’s not as clearly visible through the wings as the green lacewing bug’s abdomen is.
Biting habits: The green lacewings bugs’ larvae can bite humans.
But it’s not a bite that will cause any redness on the skin, irritation, or pain. Their mouths are not strong enough to penetrate or break your skin.
At the most, you’ll sense a slight pinch on your skin.
The adult green lacewing bugs don’t bite humans. They don’t carry any diseases either.
In your garden, the adult green lacewings feed on the pollen and nectar of the flowers.
They’re partial pollinators and beneficial bugs for the environment.
But adult green lacewing bugs get attracted to the light coming out of your home.
That can draw the green lacewing bugs in the house.
Also, do not touch adult green lacewing bugs. They produce a stinking odor when you touch them.
How To Stop The Bugs That Look Like Flying Termites From Entering Your Home?
There’s a common attractor of all the three flying termites look-alikes. And that is the light from your home.
The light from your home also attracts flying termites.
So, using the correct type of light source inside your home and in the outdoor area is the key to stop the winged bugs from entering your home.
For better results, use these light bulbs in places like near your swimming pool, patio deck, doorways, and in your garden or yard.
Also, install window shields with fine mesh to prevent flying bugs from getting inside your home.
Keeping the yard clean and not letting water gather in potholes will go a long way to keep bugs of all types away from your home.
Three bugs look like flying termites. These bugs are the flying ants, mayflies, and green lacewing bugs.
In this guide, you’ve got the physical features and the behavior of these bugs so that you can rightly identify them.
Knowing the differences between the flying termites and these flying termites’ look-alikes will save your home from massive termite infestation.
We’re Mark and Jim, and we’re retired pest controllers who made homes pest-free for more than three decades. We, along with our team of experts, founded this site to give you the pest control hacks that work.