Subterranean termites

Asked September 6, 2019, 2:39 PM EDT

One evening earlier this week, we had an invasion of flying insects. I first noticed one on the wall and killed it with a kleenex. They kept appearing, but we couldn't see where they were coming from. The wall was well lit. Eventually we must have killed half a dozen of them. They measured 1/4" to 1/2" with wings and dark brown bodies. Finally we decided to save some for identification. They seem to match the photo and description I found on the extension website under We haven't seen any evidence inside or outside of damage from termites, and we haven't seen them show up again. We live in West Bloomington near Hyland Hills. Is it possible that it was some unusual incident?

Hennepin County Minnesota

2 Responses

Hello. I'm glad you've turned to AaEx.

Though insects are not our expertise, I did find a page of information from the U of MN Extension that included the difference between termites and ants. Your specimens have a narrow waist whereas termites have a broad waist. The photo is not good enough for me to tell how big the back wings are compared to the forward wings but in ants, the back wings are smaller than the forward wings and in termites they're the same size. So take a look at your specimens to confirm the second criteria of winged ants.

I think they are winged carpenter ants. Here is more information about carpenter ants including their biology and management that may be of help:

I hope this information helps.


We contacted the U of MN's entomologist, Jeff Hahn, and here's what he has to say about the photo you provided:
These insects are field ant swarmers, not termites. Field ants nest in the soil and produce winged ants (females and males) during late summer and early fall. It is possible that a few may get into a home but they will not infest. These ants will go away on their own in a short time. Other than physical removal, no control is necessary.
I hope this information helps.