Two types of insects shed their wings: carpenter ants and termites. Both present a problem if they find their way inside your home. If you feel that you have an infestation, call a professional pest control service. These colonies can remain in the same habitat for years without extermination.
During late summer, king and queen ants fly around looking for new sites to claim as their home. They are generally 3/4-inch long and black. When they land and choose a new nest, they shed their wings. They generally choose an area of moist wood, like wooden staircases, woodpiles and porch columns. The presence of sawdust should alert you to their presence. Besides posing a danger to your home, carpenter ants can bite.
Winged termites -- also known as swarmers -- are notorious for shedding their wings. In fact, seeing their detached wings is a warning sign that your home may be infested with termites. They are drawn to light, so seeing their wings on your windowsill might be the only warning you get if termites are inside your home.
Physical Differences Between the Two
A carpenter ant has two sets of wings. The fore wings are longer than the hind wings. Their antennae are "elbowed," and they have a noticeable waist. A termite also has two sets of wings, but they are equal in length. Their antennae are straight and they have no waist.
Harm to Homes
Carpenter ants and termites both are destructive pests when they build a nest inside your home. A termite actually eats the wood of your home and deposits a mud-like substance in the tunnels it creates. Carpenter ants dig through the wood in your home to create a nest for their young, damaging the structural integrity of your home.