Bugs That Look Like Ants: Quick Identification Guide

Although there are not so many bugs that look like ants, most of them can cause a lot of troubles around your household. Even the average small ants can become a real pain when the infestation gets huge and invades your home from under the floors and tiny cracks in the walls.

Some of the bugs described below can bite you or even cause serious damage to your house. If you are reading this, you are probably already suspicious about ant-like bugs, so read attentively and pick the right pest control strategy before the insects get control over your house!

The Guide On Insects That Look Like Ants

Here are the descriptions of the most common ant-looking bug species that you can meet in North America.

Termite vs ant

Similar to all reproductive ants, reproductive termites have wings. As a result, it’s very easy to misidentify them. The average working termites (the ones that destroy your house) are easier to identify as their bodies are more rectangular, and they don’t have pinched waists like ants and carpenter ants have.

Beside that, they are of transparent creamy color and always hide from light unless you disturb them. Soldier termites are reddish or brown and have powerful teeth to kill their enemies.

Termite vs ant at white background

The best way to identify these monsters is to inspect your attic or basement for holes in the wood. Termites dig rough tunnels in the wood to build nests and transfer roots. This leads to serious damage if you don’t prevent the infestation in time.

Flying ant vs termite

Flying ant vs termite

Unlike flying reproductive termites, average winged ants have pinched waists, elbowed antennae, and 2 pairs of wings of unequal length. Termites have thick waists and 4 wings of the same length.

Both insects’ bodies are of the same length, but termite wings are almost 2 times longer. Now you will easily identify termites of any type, but I recommend you to undertake preventive measures against termites in advance.

Furry ants vs ants

furry ant

Furry ants are a relatively rare type of wasps. Female species are wingless and have pinched waists, so people often misidentify them. Unlike ants, these insects don’t congregate, usually “work solo,” and don’t nest. This makes them totally immune to pest control.

There’s no need for it either as they are totally safe. They don’t care about your house and may get in only by accident. If you notice too many velvet ants around your yard, it must be too dry there. Think about a lawn with thorough irrigation.

Carpenter ant vs ant

Carpenter ant

Carpenter ants are so easy to misidentify as they can be almost identical to average black ants. All because they can be of any shape and size! Despite the similarity, you can easily tell them from average ants when you see major working species that are quite thick.

Similar to termites, they carve galleries in the wood, but their tunnels are always straight and neat. They can also throw the leftovers out of the tunnels which helps you to identify them faster. If you found them, immediate management measures are necessary!

Thief ant vs ant

Thief ant vs ant

The tiny black bugs that look like ants are most probably thief ants. They are usually confused with baby ants but are actually adult species. They usually have dark or reddish-brown bodies and 4 wings. If you see them, start baiting right away as they can be carriers of numerous diseases as they feed on dead rodents and other insects.

Stonefly vs ant


Stoneflies hatch from their eggs in the water and mostly live near water to feed frogs and fish. They have 4 long and 2 short elbowed legs, long antennas, and 2 more straight antennas looking back from under their wings.

They can get into your house by accident and will go away on their own as there’s nothing for them to do around!

FAQ on Ant-Like Insects

If brief answers to your questions are what you look for today, here they are!

What kind of bug looks like an ant with wings?

The most common ant-looking insect with wings is a swarmer or a flying termite. It’s a winged reproductive termite that signals that there’s a termite infestation in the area.

What is that insect that looks like a big orange furry ant?

These are velvet ants. They got their name due to visual resemblance, but they belong to wasps! Female species (without wings) can bite you painfully, but it won’t happen unless you touch them.

Also read:

Ant Detective

Insects that look like ants will never pass by your keen eye anymore. Of course, there’s no need to inspect the whole household with a flashlight if you haven’t seen at least a single bug. If you have, hurry up to find the nest and get rid of it, and take all the preventive measures against a re-infestation.

Could you, please, share your infestation story in the comments if you have one? I can also help you with advice or a link to one of my “how to get rid of…” guides. Keep on being savvy!


  • Protecting your Home Against Termites (by Michael F. Potter, Extension Entomologist University of Kentucky College of Agriculture):
  • Carpenter Ant Management (Nebraska Extension):
  • Thief Ant (Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California):http://ipm.ucanr.edu/TOOLS/ANTKEY/thfbait.html

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Nicholas Martin

Nicholas Martin

I am Nicholas Martin, and I am an entomologist. I combine the insect survey work with the consultation for private pest control agencies. My narrow specializations are both urban pests and agricultural pests. I studied their control over the previous 25 years. More about Nick

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