People find it difficult to make a distinction between termites and ants, especially once swarmer’s appear. “Swarmer’s” are reproductive termites or carpenter ant males. To the untrained eye, these two different insects look identical. There are a few ways to identify the termite from the ant.
Carpenter ants have a wasp looking “waist” separating their thorax and abdomen while termites have no “waist.” The antennae on a carpenter ant has an elbow bend, while termites have no bend in their antennae. Additionally, termite swarmers tend to leave behind a pile of their wings in bunches, while ants will leave a mixture of chewed wood, ant body parts and other debris.
The presence of swarmers indicates that there is a well-developed existing colony nearby, most likely, in the structure. The colony typically has been in existence for 3-5 years if you are seeing swarmers. Around 8-10 years the swarm sizes increase. However weather and the health of a colony can affect swarm size, and swarmers from multiple colonies can emerge at once. Both insects create structural damage (termites much quicker than ants), which can be a problem if there has been water damage in the home. Connecticut has many homes that are older and made of wood that attract wood destroying insects, which makes carpenter ant and termite infestations in Connecticut a major headache for many home owners.
Source: PCT magazine, “what do termite swarmers tell you” by, industry consultants and co-owners of pinto and associates