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8 Bugs That Look Like Flying Termites (How to Get Rid of Them?)

8 Bugs That Look Like Flying Termites (How to Get Rid of Them?)

Holes in walls are among the scariest things you can find in your home because they are typically a sign of termite infestation. However, you can discover other bugs that look like Flying termites. Some may cause similar damage, while others are harmless.

Be aware that these harmless insects’ differentiation can make the difference of thousands of dollars. Therefore, it is recommended to correctly identify bugs in your walls before spending money on professional extermination and house repair.

Bugs That Look Like Flying Termites pin1

Bugs looking like flying termites

Type Length Color
Termites 0.25 to 0.50 inches

(6.35 – 12.7 mm)

White, reddish, light brown, or black
Acrobat ants 0.10 to 0.13 inches

(2.6 – 3.2 mm)

Yellow, light red, dark brown, or black
Powderpost beetles 0.16 to 0.75 inches

(4 – 19 mm)

Light brown to reddish-brown and black
Mayflies 0.25 to 1.10 inches

(6.35 –  28 mm)

White, gray, yellow, or brown with pale wings
Carpenter ants 0.50 to 1 inch

(12.7 – 25.4 mm)

Reddish-black, light brown, or black
Flying ants 0.75 inches

(19 mm)

Reddish-brown or black
Green lacewings 0.75 inches

(19 mm)

Light green with lacy wings
Carpenter bees 0.75 to 1 inch

(19 – 25 mm)

Shiny black with yellow patches

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Flying Termites

Termites are 0.25 to 0.50 inches (6.35 – 12.7 mm) long bugs with differently colored bodies, depending on the species. You can distinguish white, reddish, light brown, or black ones.

Their rectangular bodies with two segments have wide thoraxes and oblong abdomens without waists. Four wings are the same size and twice as long as their bodies, while short and straight antennae are placed on the oval, pear-like heads.

Approximately 45 termite species live in the US, differentiated into three primary types:

1. Subterranean termites

Subterranean termites1

You can find this species in the soil, building more sizable nests than any other insect type in North America. They live throughout the US besides Alaska.

Sub-types

  • Formosan, living in the South States
  • Arid-land, living on West Coast, Midwest, Southwest, South, and Rocky Mountain States
  • Eastern, living on the East Coast, Midwest, and Southeast
  • Dark southeastern, living on the East Coast
  • Western, living in Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, and California
  • Desert, living in Southern Arizona and Southeastern California

2. Drywood termites

Drywood termites1

This termite species typically live in dead trees, hardwood floors, and structural timbers without any contact with soil. They are commonly found in homes.

Sub-types

  • Southeastern, living in Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Florida
  • Western, living in California and Arizona
  • Desert, living in Southeastern California and Arizona

3. Dampwood termites

Dampwood termites1

These termites live in high-moisture wood without much contact with the soil. It is unlikely to find them in the house.

Sub-types

  • Florida, living in the Florida Keys and South Florida
  • Nevada, living in Nevada, Montana, and Idaho
  • Desert, living in the Southwest
  • Pacific, living in California, Washington, and Oregon

4. Other termite types

Other termite types1

  • Conehead, living in the Caribbean and Florida
  • Desert, living in New Mexico, West Texas, and Arizona

Termites’ life cycle starts with eggs, larvae, and mature molting nymphs and finishes with adults that appear in three forms:

  • Workers that dig tunnels
  • Soldiers that protect the colony
  • Flying termites (Alates) that reproduce

As you can see, Flying termites are one of the termite forms that live less than 24 hours. They have only one purpose, to lay eggs and remain wingless after that.

Termites feed on wood, plant-based products, and paper and infest finished and unfinished wood. Holes they make in the wood are chewed-look and rough, and the result of their work is tiny black fecal pellets.

These horrible menaces can ruin your home. Believe it or not, one colony can consume over 100 pounds (45 kg) of wood annually and cause damage worth at least $9,000.

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Bugs That Look Like Flying Termites

There are a few insect species reminding Flying termites. Some also damage wood, with and without feeding on it. On the other hand, some of these bugs are harmless for your home or even beneficial. Let’s take a look.

1. Flying ants

Flying ants1

Flying ants are mature, reproductive, reddish-brown or black insects, long about 0.75 inches (19 mm). However, their size can significantly vary, depending on the species.

Termites vs. Flying ants

Trait Termites Flying ants
Body shape Rectangular with two segments Irregular with three distinct parts
Waist None Narrow
Front and rear wing ratio Same size Front wings longer than rear
Antennae Short and straight Bent
Feed on Wood, plant-based products, paper Food debris
Habitat Their own nests Males die after mating, while queens start new colonies in old stumps and hollow trees

These bugs develop wings before looking for a new nesting site and fly in swarms only during the mating season. Then, they build a new colony. Most flying ant species don’t feed on or damage wood but prefer attacking food debris.

2. Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants1

Reddish-black, light brown, or black Carpenter ants are typically 0.50 to 1-inch (12.7 – 25.4 mm) long insects. They can fly and swarm during the mating season like termites. Once you see them, you can be sure that the infestation has lasted 3 to 4 years, followed by considerable damage.

Termites vs. Carpenter ants

Trait Termites Carpenter ants
Body shape Rectangular with two segments Three-segmented
Thorax Wide Narrow and tapered
Abdomen Straight and oblong Round and large
Waist None Thin and pinched with a node
Wing size Twice as long as the body As long as the body
Front and rear wing ratio Same size Front wings longer than rear
Antennae Short and straight Bent (elbowed) and segmented
Feed on Wood, plant-based products, paper Arthropods, insect honeydew, fruit juices, eggs, meat, and grease
The wood they infest Finished and unfinished Moist, decaying, and damaged wood, stumps, timber, or soil
The hole look Rough and chewed-look Tiny and smooth
Piles they leave Tiny black fecal pellets Cone-like piles of shredded wood (frass)

Be careful with these insects since they have powerful jaws and can bite when feeling threatened. Additionally, the formic acid they sometimes spray into the wound increases the pain.

These bugs damage wood by making tiny and smooth holes and leaving frass, cone-like piles of shredded wood inside. However, they don’t eat wood like termites.

3. Acrobat ants

Acrobat ants1

Acrobat ants are 0.10 to 0.13 inches (2.6 – 3.2 mm) long insects with yellow, light red, dark brown, or black bodies.

Termites vs. Acrobat ants

Trait Termites Acrobat ants
Body shape Rectangular with two segments Three-segmented
Thorax Wide Narrow
Abdomen Straight and oblong Heart-shaped with a stinger
Waist None Cinched
Front and rear wing ratio Same size Front wings longer than rear
Antennae Short and straight Bent (elbowed)
Feed on Wood, plant-based products, paper Honeydew, various insects, mealybugs
Habitat Their own nests Other pests’ old nests
The wood they infest Finished and unfinished Moist wood and foam insulation
Piles they leave Tiny black fecal pellets Bits of insulation and wood or dirt-like debris

They release a foul odor, bite, and behave weirdly when feeling threatened. In such situations, you can see them with lifted abdomens and legs in the air while standing on their heads.

Acrobat ants choose moist wood, wall cracks, and foam insulation as habitats and can sometimes cause electrical wiring issues. Unlike termites, these bugs never dig holes but nest in wood tunnels built by carpenter ants or termites.

4. Carpenter bees

Carpenter bees1

Carpenter bees are bumblebees-like, 0.75 to 1-inch (19 – 25 mm) long insects with shiny black bodies dotted with yellow patches on the thorax. You can find them across the southern and eastern US.

Termites vs. Carpenter bees

Trait Termites Carpenter bees
Body shape Rectangular with two segments Round, chubby
Abdomen Straight and oblong Hairless (patent leather butt)
Waist None Fat middle
Wing size Twice as long as the body Shorter than a body
Front and rear wing ratio Same size Front wings longer than rear
Antennae Short and straight Long, elbowed
Feed on Wood, plant-based products, paper Nectar and pollen
Habitat Their own nests Live independently in tunnels
The wood they infest Finished and unfinished Untreated, weathered wood
The hole look Rough and chewed-look Sizable, round, kick-out
Piles they leave Tiny black fecal pellets Sawdust piles and sticky yellow waste

Unlike termites living in colonies, you can spot only one Carpenter bee at a time. They are independent creatures that prefer unfinished, weathered, and unpainted softwoods like cedar, redwood, pine, cypress, and oak.

These insects build tunnels inside the wood to settle their nests for laying eggs, leaving so-called kick-out holes 0.50 inches (12.7 mm) in diameter. They leave sticky yellow waste while making holes without much damage on wooden surfaces.

5. Powderpost beetles

Powderpost beetles1

Powderpost beetles are light brown to reddish-brown and black bugs, approximately 0.16 to 0.75 inches (4 – 19 mm) in length. Swarming beetles have rigid, shell-like front wings, while a rear pair is for flying.

Termites vs. Powderpost beetles

Trait Termites Powderpost beetles
Body shape Rectangular with two segments Slender and cylindrical
Wing size Twice as long as the body The same as a body
Front and rear wing ratio Same size Rigid, shell-like front wings and rear wings used for flying
Antennae Short and straight Short and serrated
Feed on Wood, plant-based products, paper Sapwood, the soft outer wood layer
Habitat Their own nests Their own nests
The wood they infest Finished and unfinished Damp and unfinished
The hole look Rough and chewed-look Tiny
Piles they leave Tiny black fecal pellets Fine wooden flower-like powder

Larvae live and feed on hardwoods, like oak, hickory, cherry, poplar, walnut, and ash, causing significant structural damage. Anobiid powderpost beetle is the only species infesting both softwoods and hardwoods.

Adults use holes in wood only for laying eggs. Unfortunately, they are nocturnal insects (active at night), so it is unlikely to see them during the day.

You can see pinhead-sized holes, 0.03 to 0.12 inches (0.76 – 3 mm) in diameter, which number depends on the present larvae’ number. They are surrounded by fine wooden flower-like powder.

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6. Mayflies

Mayflies1

Mayflies are 0.25 to 1.10 inches (6.35 – 28 mm) long bugs with white, gray, yellow, or brown bodies and pale wings. They typically live, develop, and lay eggs in freshwater, including lakes, rivers, marshes, and swamps.

Termites vs. Mayflies

Trait Termites Mayflies
Body shape Rectangular with two segments Slender and cylindrical
Thorax Wide Three-segmented
Abdomen Straight and oblong Long and thin with 2 to 3 tails at the end
Front and rear wing ratio Same size Front wings slightly longer than rear
Antennae Short and straight Short, barely visible
Feed on Wood, plant-based products, paper Tiny aquatic animals, underwater plants, algae, and debris

You can quickly confuse them with termites because they also swarm, but adults are twice as long as termites. Besides, they have a long abdomen with 2 to 3 characteristic thin tails at the end.

These bugs are annoying and sometimes settle on your patio deck or next to the door and window. However, they neither cause any harm to wood nor bite humans and animals. You can expect them to be highly active during hot summer days, particularly after rain.

7. Green lacewings

Green lacewings

Green lacewings are typically 0.75 inches (19 mm) long and have a light green, cylindrical body with lacy wings and downward-hanged head. However, their color changes to brown in winter.

Termites vs. Green lacewings

Trait Termites Green lacewings
Body shape Rectangular with two segments Slender and cylindrical with a downward-hanged head
Abdomen Straight and oblong Long, slender, and thin
Wing size Twice as long as the body Longer than a body
Front and rear wing ratio Same size Front wings slightly longer than rear
Antennae Short and straight Long and thin
Feed on Wood, plant-based products, paper Honeydew, pollen, nectar, and aphids
Habitat Their own nests Field and tree crops

These insects live in gardens, swamps, fields, tropical rainforests, and forests without causing any damage to wood. On the contrary, they are highly beneficial in gardens where feeding on pests like aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. Green lacewings have near-transparent wings, unlike Flying termites’ opaque wings.

 

Summary

Termites are pest insects that can cause irreparable damage to your home. However, you should be careful when identifying bugs infesting your home because a simple mistake can cost you thousands of dollars. Always check found insects and compare them before calling professionals to eliminate them.

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