A-1 Pest Control North Carolina

What Do Termites Look Like: Bugs That Get Mistaken for Termites

Many people mistake other pests for termites which can impact the type of treatment they get to remove them. If you have a  termite infestation, you want to get it taken care of as soon as possible because it can cause plenty of damage. This is why knowing what you’re dealing with is so important. 

So, what do termites look like? We’re going to point out some common misidentification mistakes that people make when it comes to termites and show you how to tell the difference between an actual termite and another type of bug.

Termites at a Glance

Most termites measure about ¼ inch to ½ inch long. Their mid-sections are wide so the whole body is about the same width. They are usually brown but can be white or back as well. 

Flying termites have two sets of wings. All four wings are equal in length. When they’re folded, the wings extend about twice as long as the termite’s body. All termites have two straight antennae.

Bugs That Are Mistaken for Termites

Termite Vs. Carpenter Ants  

Carpenter ants are often mistaken for termites because they’re both small, winged insects that can cause a great amount of wood damage. But, termites can cause much more damage than carpenter ants.

Let’s take a look at the two so you can see the differences:

Picture of a flying termite
("Winged Termite" by Bernard DUPONT is licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0)
Carpenter Ants

As you look at the pictures notice these differences:


  • Broad-waisted
  • Straight antennae
  • 2 sets of equal-sized wings
  • Typically only visible in a swarm

Carpenter Ants:

  • Narrow-waisted
  • Bowed antennae
  • 1 set of large wings and 1 set of small wings
  • Larger & more visible

Termites vs. Citronella Ants 

Citronella ants often get mistaken for termites as well. While they are both reddish-brown, they have distinctions that set them apart.

Take a look at this picture of a group of termites:

Picture of termite infestation
Termite infestation
Picture of a group of termites
Citronella ants

Here’s what sets them apart:

Citronella Ants

  • Narrower waists
  • Distinctly larger abdomens
  • Slightly bent antennae

At first glance, the two look the same, but termites tend to have straight antennae, smaller abdomens, and larger waists.  

Acrobat Ants

Acrobat ants can be found in wood and inside walls, so they can get mistaken for termites. They tend to nest in wood, especially insulation and moist wood.

Here’s a look at an acrobat ant:

Picture of an acrobat ant on a leaf
Acrobat ant

When you compare them to the pictures of termites above, you can see some similarities in their appearance. But, if you look closely, you’ll notice the differences.

Acrobat Ants

  • Narrow middle with a larger head
  • Front wings longer than rear wings
  • Bent antennae
  • Heart-shaped abdomen

Termites have a straight abdomen, equal-length front and rear wings, and straight antennae. While termites can bore their own tunnels, acrobat ants don’t which is why they don’t leave as much damage. They may leave some bits of wood or insulation near the walls or the foundation.

Do You Have a Termite Problem?

If you think you have a termite problem or are not sure if you’re dealing with termites or another pest, let A-1 Pest Control help. We have the expertise needed to handle termite control or ant control of any kind. Call us today for a free estimate