3 Bugs That Look Like Termites

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Termites are known for their destructive habits as they build colonies inside the structure of a product, weakening it and often leading to its collapse. Other bugs with similar body characteristics, such as ants or carpenter bees, can be mistaken for termites.

So, what are the three bugs that look like termites? However, they are not unique in appearance and should be identified by an expert before any damage is done.

Continue reading to find out about bugs that look like termites. 

What does a termite look like?

What does a termite look like?

Termites are a type of pest that can cause a lot of damage to your home or property. They are difficult to identify and can be mistaken for other bugs, such as ants. Only the soldier termites have mandibles used for defense and make up about 10% of the hive.

When termites bite, your structure almost always suffers- they rarely, if ever, bite humans. Termites have been around for hundreds of species, making them one of the oldest known pests in the world.

Termites come in different shapes and sizes, but some common characteristics among most termites. They have straight antennae, soft and flat bodies, and are usually between 0.25-0.5 inches in size.

Termites also have a unique way of moving – they wiggle their bodies from side to side as they move.

Termites are small, soft-bodied insects that can be difficult to identify. They come in various colors, but most are shades of brown. They have a thick waist but shorter legs than other bugs.

Termites also have two pairs of wings that are the same length. There are four species of termite, and all winged termites have two pairs of wings.

There are four main types of termites- dampwood, dry wood, Formosan and subterranean. Dampwood and dry wood termites are significantly larger than the other two types. They range in size from 1/8 inch to 3/8 inch long.

Formosan termites are about 1/16 inch long, and subterranean termites are the smallest at 1/32 inch long.

3 Bugs That Look Like Termites

Powderpost Beetles

Powderpost Beetles

Powderpost beetles are a common type of wood-boring beetle. They get their name from producing fine, powdery dust as they bore into wood. They can be difficult to detect and significantly damage wooden items and structures before being noticed. 

The most common time for an infestation is during the spring and summer months. Taking care of an infestation as soon as it is discovered is important because it can cause great damage to your home or business. Additionally, powderpost beetles can cause loud clicking sounds.

Professional exterminators use a stethoscope to listen for the larvae moving around in the wood- this is the best way to locate their nest.

It is not uncommon for people to find their property infested with powderpost beetles after acquiring a piece of wooden furniture or any other wooden object containing larvae.

These bugs are more difficult to locate and get rid of than winged bugs, so be careful when bringing any wooden items into your home.

Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants

There are a few key ways to tell the difference between carpenter ants and termites. The most obvious is that carpenter ants have a narrower thorax and bent antennae and leave shredded woodpiles as they burrow into the wood.

Carpenter ants are also dark brown or black, while termites range from black to dark brown. Another way to differentiate between the two is by their wing pairs: termites and carpenter ants use two wing pairs, while most other types of ants have four.

Termites have a broad thorax and straight antennae, while carpenter ants are more slender with bent antennae. Termites are also attracted to woodpiles, whereas carpenter ants create their shredded woodpiles.

The tunnels created by carpenter ants will be smooth, whereas the tunnels created by termites will be rougher.

Carpenter Wood Bees

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are not structural pests, but they make galleries for eggs in wood. They create these galleries by chewing through the wood and laying their eggs. Carpenter bees can be picky, so getting them to infest a structure is hard. They measure 5 to 1.5 inches long.

In addition to their distinguishable features, carpenter bees can be identified by their unique behavior. You can usually see a carpenter bee buzzing over the garden with that helicopter-like sound. They can also be found under decks, on porch rails, or on your home’s eaves.

What are the bugs that look like flying termites? 

Flying ants

Flying Ant Up Close

Flying ants are different from termites because they can move through the air. Termites are crawlers and follow a colony where they have a predetermined life as soldiers or builders.

Flying ants are the species of ant that are only found in springtime to reproduce and start new colonies.

Even though these three bugs look like termites, they are harmless flying ants. Antennae on these insects are very small, and their color is black. They can range in size from 5mm to wings that are 3-5mm long, depending on the size of the moth.



Mayflies are flying insects that can be easily mistaken for termites. They are very similar in appearance when flying, but it is a little harder to tell the difference when they are stationary.

There are also some more reasons you might think that flying termites are mayflies: Season and swarm. They migrate in a vast swarm that resembles a swarm of flying termites. They become active after the rains, just like flying termites.

Both groups of insects are attracted to light and swarm in large numbers. Additionally, they both have similar behaviors regarding mating and building nests.

Acrobat ants

forest ant exercises on a mushroom

Acrobat ants are dark in color, reaching 5 mm in size. They get their name from the tendency to form into a “bridge” with their bodies, allowing them to cross gaps.

Though they are often mistaken for termites, acrobat ants are not attracted to the taste of wood. They generally consume dead insects or honeydew from aphids and other pests.

Green Lacewing

The green midge is an ordinary golden-eyed lat. Chrysoperla carnea

There are a few key ways to quickly tell whether you’re looking at a green lacewing bug or a flying termite. Size is one way- green lacewing bugs are slightly bigger than flying termites. Color can also be helpful- when they overwinter, their color changes to brown.

Another difference is the antennae- green lacewing bugs have long, filamentous antennae while flying termites have short and blunt ones.

Green lacewing bugs are often mistaken for flying termites because of their similar wings. The primary difference is that the veins on a green lacewing’s wing run vertically, while the veins on a flying termite’s wing run horizontally.

Additionally, green lacewing wings are closed at a 10-15 degree angle with the abdomen, while flying termite wings are open.

What do small wood termites look like?

Termites are small, brownish-black insects that can be mistaken for ants. They are similar in size but can be differentiated by their straight antennae and wings that fold lengthwise when resting.

3 Bugs That Look Like Termites

The queen is the largest termite in the colony and can grow up to 4 inches long. Most species of termites range in size from 0.2-0.6 inches.

What do termites look like with wings?

Termites are insects that their size and color can identify. They have four transparent wings and two antennae. Termites always travel in swarms and are very destructive to wood.

What do termite wings pieces look like?

Termites and carpenter ants are often mistaken for each other because they share common physical characteristics. Termites have two pairs of wings, the front pair being noticeably longer than the back one. 

Are termites black with wings causing wood damage to the wood structures in the house?

Termites are usually light, but a few species have darker colors. The darker color helps them retain moisture, and it is also helpful for camouflage in their nests. They will often have two pairs of wings about the same size. It can also cause wood damage in your home.


Termites are a serious cause of concern for homeowners and businesses. They can do a lot of damage to a property if they’re not eliminated early on. It is why there are extensive termite control services around.

Termite control services have become profitable because they’re not easy to eliminate. Therefore, it is important to identify flying termites as they are more likely to cause an infestation. 

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.