5 bugs that look like termites and how to identify them (2023)

Termites are a common pest that can cause a lot of damage to your home if not treated properly.

However, there are several bugs that look like termites and can be difficult to tell apart.

In this blog post we will discuss5 bugs that look like termitesand how to recognize them.

We also provide tips on how to get rid of these pests and prevent them from damaging your home!

What you will learn

How to recognize termites

5 bugs that look like termites and how to identify them (1)

Before we can compare bugs to termites, there are a few things we should know. What does the termite body look like?

They have an incredibly large chest and are largely the same size. It is usually brown, although it can be white or black.

Hawk moths have two wings. All 4 wings are the same size. When folded, their wings span twice as much as the termite's body.

Each termite has a double straight antennae. What are the damage caused by termites? The signs of damage can change with the termites.

What does a termite look like?

Most of the time you will find wild termites that you can generalize as termites are similar. In fact, they have more than 3,000 termites on the planet and forty are restricted to the US alone.

Although they almost always appear identical, each species has distinct appearances and behaviors. Most termites are 0.5 to 1 inch in diameter.

They are characterized by straight antennae and a long, egg-shaped thorax. Different species have different shades depending on the color.

Some have white colors while others have black tones. The termite has large waists and short legs.

Subterranean Termites

5 bugs that look like termites and how to identify them (2)

Subterranean termites are found throughout America, with the exception of Alaska. As the name suggests, they live underground and build nests in the ground.

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It can nest above ground or in dry structures. These species have been identified as the termites with the highest reproductive productivity.

In a colony, the population could reach 2 million. They are considered comparable to Formosan termites in terms of property damage.

Since they have the highest population, builders craft unique mud tubes that have been crafted long enough for people to access food supplies in their homes.

Formosan termites

5 bugs that look like termites and how to identify them (3)

They were reportedly believed to be of Taiwanese or Chinese origin. They were regarded as the undoing of the property of their voracious wood eaters.

They build mound nests over walls and can accommodate more than 20,000 people. Once a problem is identified, it is difficult to treat and eliminate.

They can be found in various locations across the United States including Alabama, Georgia and Hawaii.

Drywood termites

5 bugs that look like termites and how to identify them (4)

These species can cause problems in the home. They don't need soil to survive and would normally be positioned in wooden walls or under the roof.

They can even tolerate some moisture, so they can often be found near pipes in leaks.

You most likely live in the southern California suburbs and southern states.

Dampwood termites

5 bugs that look like termites and how to identify them (5)

Termite infestations occur in moist forests where humidity is low and the soil has a high moisture content. This termite is large in size.

They rarely cause infestations in homes, but you can find them if you're careful.

They are usually found in coastal and semi-arid areas like Florida.

Also read:How to get rid of flying termites

Signs of termite infestation

Termites may be small, but they can cause big problems. Because of this, it's important to keep an eye out for signs of a termite infestation.

Here are four signs you may have a problem.

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1. Drywood Termitenkot

5 bugs that look like termites and how to identify them (6)

One of the first signs of a drywood termite infestation is the presence of theirsLike, also called Frass.

Frass looks like tiny piles of sawdust and is usually found near windows, door frames, or baseboards. If you see frass in your home, it's time to call an exterminator.

2. Hollowed out wood or wall

Another sign of termites is hollowed out wood or walls. Termites eat wood from the inside out. So if you tap a piece of wood and it sounds hollow, there's a good chance you have termites.

You may also see cracks in paint or wallpaper that resemble termite damage.

3. Mud Pipes

Mud burrows are another sure sign of termites. These tubes are made by termites traveling back and forth between their nests and food sources.

Mud hoses are usually located on the outside of homes near the foundation or eaves. If you see mud hoses, it's time to call an exterminator.

4. Obvious swarms

Finally, another sign of termite infestation is the presence of swarms. Termites usually swarm in the spring when they are looking for mates.

If you're seeing swarms around your home, it's time to call a professional pest control expert before things get out of hand.

5 bugs that look like termites

Now that you know the signs of a termite infestation, it's time to learn about the bugs that look like termites. Here are five bugs that resemble termites.

carpenter ants

5 bugs that look like termites and how to identify them (7)

The bugs that are usually mistaken for termites are ants. The termite and the ant live together in a colony.

These social insects burrow into forests. While the ants eat termite food, they dig in the forest to find their home.

The species most similar to termites is thecarpenter ant. Carpenter ants are wingless, about 0.5-1/2 inch across, and darker brown and black.

Reproductive ants have a set of wings and can be 3/8 inch long. The wings are long and the hind legs are not similar in shape and size.

Carpenter ants have a defined waist and elbow antennae.

Acrobatic Ants

5 bugs that look like termites and how to identify them (8)

(Video) Nightstand infested with termites.

Acrobatic Antslook just like termites. These ants also prefer to hide in older wood.

Like carpenters, these ants do not eat wood. Acrobat ants are very small - typically about 8 to 15 feet in diameter.

They also have segments in their bodies compared to termites. The insect is known to raise its abdomen in threatening situations.

Acrobat antelopes have a heart shape. Signs of infestation are signs of dirt and wood abrasion. Acrobat diets are the same as those of carpenter ants.

Mostly they eat honeydew, but also sweets or meat.

carpenter bees

5 bugs that look like termites and how to identify them (9)

carpenter bees, unlike termites, are separate species of insects. Several nests of carpenter bees can be found in the inner wooden gallery.

A few carpenter bees occupy the same piece. Carpenter bees have funnel holes that can vary from 1 1/2 inches to 1/8 inches.

Not only does the beetle look like termites, but the nest is sometimes mistaken for drywood termites that "poke holes".

Take a closer look. Termites are 1mm in diameter, so much smaller than carpenter's flanges. A pile of sawdust can be found under carpenter bee holes.

Powder jaws

5 bugs that look like termites and how to identify them (10)

Doesn't appear to be similar to termites. I'm going to put this together for a reason. The damage can easily be mistaken for termite problems.

The bodies of the powder beetle are interesting. The breast flap covers the head. This happens because the head is down and the chest acts as a shield.

ThisBeetlelays eggs on seasoned wood where they develop larvae. They stay in the forest throughout the winter to be sure to stay warm.

The larvae eat wood until spring when the adult larvae are at their peak. Powder post beetles are commonly found in rafters and in lumberyards.

flying ants

5 bugs that look like termites and how to identify them (11)

Flying ants refer to any insect that has wings and is not a specific species, and can include any type of insect.

They are often confused with termites because of their tiny size and similar wings. Carpenter ants are the most common flying ants in the world, living around our homes and in apartments.

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Black ants also form in the ground. The adult ant is the most common flying ant. It is used on airplanes to meet their future lovers.

Ants and termites look similar but have some distinguishing features. Typically, the best identification is a body shape like this example.

Ants have darker hues ranging from dark brown to dark brown.

What times of the day are termites most active?

Subterranean termites swarm mainly during the day, especially after rain. They are most active in spring.

The Formosan termite swarms occur at night and are particularly common in late spring and summer.

Drywood termites can also be seen at night, especially near lights.

See also:How to get rid of termites

Which bugs look like termites with wings?

Carpenter ants are often confused with termites because they both damage wood and swarm (fly around in large numbers) during their mating season.

However, winged carpenter ants are black or dark brown and have a narrow waist. Termites are pale in color and have broad waists.

Acrobat ants also look similar to termites, but can be distinguished by their heart-shaped abdomen. These ants get their name from the way they raise their bellies when they feel threatened.

What to do in the event of a termite infestation?

take termites seriously. When you start seeingsigns of infestation, which probably means the colony has been a presence in your home for a few years now.

And if they live in walls, it could cause serious damage to supporting beams.

Call a professional pest control expert as soon as you spot termites on your property.

You may discover an extensive termite colony and years' worth of property damage, or one of these less harmful, peer pests.

frequently asked Questions

Are there bugs that look like termites?

Yes, there are several bugs out there. Carpenter ants, dust beetles, and flying ants are bugs that can be confused with termites.

If you are ever unsure, it is always best to call a professional for help.

How do you tell if a bug is a termite?

There are several ways to determine if a beetle is a termite. One way is to look at body shape. Termites have wide waists while carpenter ants have narrow waists.


In summary, there are several bugs that look like termites. Whether you're looking at a carpenter ant, a dust beetle, or a flying ant, don't be too quick to assume it's a termite.

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Knowing the differences between these errors can save you a lot of time, money, and worry.

If you think you've found a termite in your home, it's best to call a professional for help. Thank you for reading!


What are those bugs that look like termites without wings? ›

If you're seeing bugs that look like termites without wings, they might be powderpost beetles. A powderpost beetle is a bug that looks like a giant termite. It's another wood-boring insect, but it only eats unfinished wood, whereas termites aren't as picky.

What is the best way to visually tell the difference between ants and termites? ›

Termites have front wings and hind wings that are the same length, and are twice as long as their body. Ants have shorter wings overall, and their front wings are longer than their hind wings. Antennae: Termites have straight antennae, while ants have bent antennae.

What bugs look like termites but are not termites? ›

Powderpost beetles. Just like termites, powderpost beetles feed on wood and can do significant structural damage if left untreated. Even if you identify the pests in your home as powderpost beetles rather than termites, you should still call an exterminator ASAP to minimize damage to your home.

What looks like termite damage? ›

Termite damage sometimes appears similar to water damage. Outward signs of termite damage include buckling wood, swollen floors and ceilings, areas that appear to be suffering from slight water damage and visible mazes within walls or furniture. Termite infestations also can exude a scent similar to mildew or mold.

What are the small white bugs that look like termites? ›

Most likely to be found in the kitchen, grain mites are extremely small, pearly-white or grayish-white insects. They prefer to live in conditions with high moisture and humidity. As their name implies, they feed on processed grains, as well as wheat germ, yeast, cheese, flour and cereals.

What bugs look like sawdust? ›

The appearance of frass is a sign that insects – potentially termites - are infesting your wood. So if you see what looks like sawdust in or around your home, you should contact a termite control professional for an inspection of your home.

Are flying termites harmless? ›

If you see swarms of flying termites around or inside your home, it should act as a warning sign for 2 potential dangers: You may already have an existing termite problem. Your home may be at risk of potential termite infestation.

What are the tiny black bugs on wood? ›

Powder post beetles are small brownish-black bugs that bore into dead wood and, over time can reduce the wood into a fine flour-like powder. In large enough numbers, they can cause structural damage to a home.

What do dry wood termites look like? ›

What Do Drywood Termites Look Like? The size of drywood termites range, depending on their age, from 1/4 inch to 1 inch long. Adult drywood termites have a thicker, oval-shaped waist, short legs and straight antennae with equal length wings. They are usually cream-white to light brown in color and have six legs.

How does baby termites look? ›

Baby termites look similar to adult termites. The only significant difference is that they are paler in colour and smaller in size, resembling tiny ants. They feature straight antennae, a thick waist and have a tell-tale whitish pigment. As termite babies develop, they get darker and larger.

Can ants be confused with termites? ›

Termites can be mistaken for ants (and vice versa), especially when they're flying during a swarm. We've outlined some key differences in their appearances above, such as body shape, antennae, and wings. But it can certainly be difficult spotting these differences.

Do termites look like sugar ants? ›

Distinguishing Traits of Termites and Ants

Ants have the recognizable body shape of an ant, with three distinguishable body segments. Termites have three segments as well, but they do not have the thin waist of the ant. Termites have straight, beaded antennae. Ant antennae have a bend in them.

What do carpenter ants look like compared to termites? ›

Carpenter ant tunnels are also smooth, while termite galleries are filled with soil and mud, giving them a ragged appearance. Termites also build mud tubes, while carpenter ants do not.

What are the small tiny brown bugs in my house with wings? ›

Frequently, homeowners may see large numbers of small brown beetles occurring in the home. They can be anywhere: in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, or living room. The most common small brown beetles are the drugstore beetles, also known as bread beetles or biscuit beetles.

Are there bugs other than termites that eat wood? ›

The majority of wood-destroying insects are beetles, but other types of insects may consume wood for food, or damage wood when building a nest. Identification of wood-destroying insects is easiest with an actual specimen, but these are rarely available for beetles infesting wood.

What insect is related to termite? ›

Termites have long been accepted to be closely related to cockroaches and mantids, and they are classified in the same superorder (Dictyoptera).

What kills termites instantly? ›

What chemical kills termites? There are two main chemicals used to kill termites—fipronil and hexaflumuron. Fipronil is the specially designed chemical used as an active ingredient in many different liquid termiticides. In high enough concentrations, it can kill termites on contact.

What wasps look like termites? ›

Mud Daubers are solitary, and termites build colonies. Mud Daubers are part of the wasp family and will actually attack other insects (like spiders) and keep their numbers down. You can easily tell the difference in the two insects by their nest types.

What else looks like termite frass? ›

Termite frass looks similar to piles of sawdust, which are another sign of termite infestation.

What are tiny white crawling bugs? ›

White Mites are a species of spider mite and are tiny clear bugs known to infest outdoor garden plants and house plants but can also infest areas of the home. White mites are also used to describe Wood Mites, a type of mite known to frequent damp wood.

What are these tiny GREY bugs in my house? ›

Silverfish, technically known by the scientific name Lepisma saccharina, are true pest insects that you've very likely seen inside your home at some point. You may have spotted these little silvery-colored insects scurrying along the bathtub, up the walls, around the laundry room or basement floor.

What do white mites look like? ›

They are small, clear, white, and have eight legs. Mites are tiny. They're no bigger than ¼ mm, approximately the size of a grain of salt. Along with being translucent white, they're difficult to see with the naked eye.

What do furniture mites look like? ›

Dust mites can be difficult to detect due to their small size. These microscopic arthropods are estimated to be only 1/4 to 1/3 millimeters long. You can only see them under a microscope, and even then, they only look like small white spider-like creatures.

What are those dust bugs? ›

Dust mites are microscopic, insect-like pests that commonly live in house dust. They feed on flakes of dead skin, or dander, that are shed by people and pets. These tiny creatures are a big source of allergens and can worsen allergies and asthma.

What insect leaves a pile of sawdust? ›

Some insects that produce sawdust are: Carpenter ants. Carpenter bees. Wood boring beetles.

Where do flying termites hide in house? ›

It's easy to identify a flying termite because of their winged bodies and they usually like to shed their wings on window sills, floors, and corners. If you're having a hard time finding their termite colony, you can enlist the help of professional exterminators to do a thorough sweep of your house.

What smell do flying termites hate? ›

Garlic isn't only for vampires — it can repel termites, too. Garlic is most fragrant and effective as a termite repellent when you crush the cloves. You can even use garlic to exterminate termites.

What happens if you see one flying termite? ›

A flying termite swarm near the home nest could indicate a large colony in the yard or some other nearby location. Residents who find multiple alates inside, notice their shed wings around doors and windows, or see them emerging from the house exterior may have an active infestation inside their home.

What mites look like black specks? ›

Can Scabies Mites Be Seen? Most people with scabies only carry 10 to 15 mites at any given time, and each mite is less than half a millimeter long. This makes them very difficult to spot. To the naked eye, they may look like tiny black dots on the skin.

What are black mites? ›

Bird mites

They are reddish-black in appearance and can populate rapidly once they have found a suitable host. While bird mites aren't associated with the transmission of any infectious disease, like other mites, their bite can be very irritating.

What do black mold mites look like? ›

What do mold mites look like? They look like spiders but even smaller. They range from white to brown and can only be seen under a microscope or a special high-definition camera. They may even be mistaken for mold at first.

Whats the difference between wood mites and termites? ›

Unlike termites, wood mites do not damage the wood. So you don't have to worry about them breaking down foundations or eating your furniture. They are simply an annoyance but are less harmful than most insects.

Do termites eat drywall? ›

Drywall, also called sheetrock, is used for walls and ceilings in homes. It is made of panels of plaster enclosed on both sides with thick sheets of paperboard. Since drywall is partially made of cellulose, termites can readily feed on the paper in drywall and cause damage.

How do termites suddenly appear? ›

Termites swarm after their original colony has reached a certain capacity level and is ready to expand. For most colonies, this happens once a year. Hundreds or even thousands of swarmers, called alates, are produced with the sole purpose of reproduction and expansion.

Can you see termites crawling? ›

Pale and soft, worker termites look remarkably like maggots — at least until you see them move. If you happen upon a group of worker termites, you'll know it because they look like nothing more than a line of ambulatory rice grains.

Why are baby termites on my bed? ›

Moisture is one of the conditions that attract them to your bed sheets in the first place. Exposing your beddings and mattress to at least five hours of hot, direct sunlight should help eliminate the termites by removing moisture.

What looks like termites but arent? ›

The Imposters. The insects most commonly confused for termites are flying ants. The most common species of ants to take flight around your house are carpenter ants, but they're by no means the only ones. Other would-be imposters include moisture ants, black garden ants and pavement ants.

Is it obvious if you have termites? ›

But termites are the sneakiest creatures of all. While the above-mentioned pests leave signs of their presence, termites often leave no visible signs and can go for years, or even decades, eating away at the wood of a home, completely undetected.

Are termites attracted to sugar? ›

So, we could argue that termites primarily eat sugar, not wood. Worker termites pass on the cellulose-turned sugar substance through a mouth-to-mouth feeding process.

Do termites look like grubs? ›

If you see worker termites, you're likely to see lots of workers in one place. At first glance, they may look like worms or maggots because of their pale, wet, glossy appearance. The distinguishing feature will be their six legs and two antennae.

What do foundation ants look like? ›

Worker pavement ants are uniformly small, about 3mm long. They are dark brown to black in color with a shiny gaster. There are striations on the head and dorsal surface of their thorax and their 12-segmented antennae end in a 3-segmented club.

What are the tiny ants that eat wood? ›

So how do you identify wood ants? Wood Ants (Carpenter Ants or the scientific name – Camponotus pennsylvanicus) are ¼-⅜ inches in length with a black abdomen with a reddish-brown head. The “worker ants” can also have a yellowish coloring. The ants are pinched at the waist and have elbowed antennae.

What ant looks like a termite? ›

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants, particularly those with wings, can easily be confused with flying termites. They are very similar to termites in size, shape, and even color. Carpenter ants have two pairs of wings, just like flying swarmer termites, but their front wings are longer than their back wings.

What does a carpenter ant infestation look like? ›

Signs of Carpenter Ant Damage and Infestations

Spotting large black ants in your house. Finding piles of wood shavings or sawdust beneath wooden areas like baseboards, door jambs, and window sills. Seeing long ant trails or ant paths on your lawn.

What does damage to wood from carpenter ants look like? ›

One sign of carpenter ant damage is the appearance of small, circular galleries on the surface of the wood. The worker carpenter ants will excavate sawdust-like debris around or below the exit holes. Inside the galleries will appear smooth and free of debris.

Should I worry if I see a termite? ›

Termites themselves aren't harmful to humans. However, colonies of these insects can cause billions of dollars of damage each year. While they can be destructive to the structure of your home, they can destroy more than just your house.

Does seeing one termite mean infestation? ›

While these piles can be quite large, seeing even one termite wing means that it is time to call for an inspection.

What do termites look like to the human eye? ›

Pale and soft, worker termites look remarkably like maggots — at least until you see them move. If you happen upon a group of worker termites, you'll know it because they look like nothing more than a line of ambulatory rice grains.

What time of day are termites most active? ›

The arid-land subterranean termite usually swarms during daylight hours in the fall, late winter and early spring. The desert subterranean termite swarms during the summer, from July to September. This termite swarms at dusk, after a rain.

What do termites hate the most? ›

Sunlight. Termites hate sunlight. In fact, they can die from too much sunlight and heat exposure. If you suspect that a piece of furniture has termites, drag it to the yard to bake in the sun for a bit.

What does vinegar do to termites? ›

Vinegar's acetic acid is corrosive to termite exoskeletons. This acid spray kills termites. This treatment must be sprayed on termite bodies. If you can't access most of the termites, immerse their colony in vinegar.

What smell kills termites? ›

“We tested several insecticidal essential oils on individual western drywood termites and found that methyl salicylate, or wintergreen oil, killed them the fastest,” said Choe. Wintergreen oil kills termites, but it doesn't hurt people or their pets.

Why do I suddenly have termites? ›

Why Do Termites Swarm? Termites swarm after their original colony has reached a certain capacity level and is ready to expand. For most colonies, this happens once a year. Hundreds or even thousands of swarmers, called alates, are produced with the sole purpose of reproduction and expansion.

Do termites just walk around the house? ›

Winged Things – Since termites eat wood from the inside out and stay hidden in the wood they infest (and the soil in the earth), you'll never see one casually walking around.

Can termites infest human skin? ›

It is unlikely that a termite could pass on a disease to a human because of their non-toxic nature, but they are known to bite and sting if they touch human skin. Generally, these creatures are only a physical danger to other insects and will only attack if handled, starved, or otherwise threatened.

What do termites look like inside home? ›

Signs of a Termite Infestation

Blisters in wooden flooring - Like little bubbles on your floor. Pellets or droppings - They will look similar to coffee grounds. Bodies or wings - They are roughly ant-sized. Mud Tubes - Tubing which you may find outside or in your crawlspace.

Can you see termites crawling around? ›

Termites are not like other pests that you might see around your home. You won't find them crawling across your kitchen floor or flying around your head letting you know they are present.


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