Termites vs Ants – Learn to Spot the Differences
A homeowner’s greatest fear: A biblical-sized swarm of winged insects engulf your home and devour everything you’ve worked so hard on. Okay maybe not your greatest fear, but definitely up there on the list, right? The first question you may have in this scenario is probably…are these ants or termites I’m dealing with here? There are many key physiological and behavioral differences between flying ants and termites. Obviously you don’t want either near your beautiful home, but making the distinction between the two will help in knowing which steps to take first rid yourself of your new six-legged visitors.
The confusion by a panicked home or business owner is easily understood. Both termites and flying ants are small, have four wings, six legs, a head, thorax, and abdomen. Both termites and some species of ants spread their species by swarming and both have similar social structures containing a queen who lays eggs and workers who do all the heavy lifting. But, even though one flying insect in a swarm looks much like another, with closer inspection determination can be made in the termites vs ants dilemma.
In the termites vs ants investigation, the first place to look is the wings. Termites have four wings that are equal in length while flying ants also have four wings, but the fore wings are larger than the hind wings. Moving to the body shape, termites have a thick waist, but ants have a narrow, “wasp-like” waist. When looking at the antennae, termites have straight antennae while ants have elbowed, bent antennae. Another difference is that, though both have a head, thorax, and abdomen, the termite does not have a segmented body, but the ants have three distinct segments.
For those still confused in the termites vs ants debate, there are also many behavioral differences between the two. Termites usually swarm with the appearance of warmer temperatures and rainfall. Ants can swarm at the same time, but it is not common. Ants are easier to find than termites because ants usually live in visible holes. Termites are hidden, living in tunnels in soil and wood, their feeding grounds. Ants will eat practically anything including sweets, leaves, and vegetables, but termites eat one thing-wood.
Once you determine whether you have an ant or termite infestation, the treatment options differ greatly. To end an ant infestation, use insecticide dust in the area where the infestation occurs or bait worker ants can carry back to the nest and the queen, eventually killing the entire colony. Termite treatment costs and methods, the first question is whether the swarmers are coming to or from a structure. Termites found on the outside surface of the home could have been carried there by the wind. Inside a structure, however, the appearance of swarmers in large numbers usually means that a colony is in or beneath the structure and a professional licensed in termite treatment must be contacted. The pest control professional will conduct a thorough search of the property to determine if treatment such as long-lasting chemical barriers in the form of termiticides or baits are necessary.
Though similar in many ways, by looking at body type and behavioral differences, a person can determine with which insect he or she is dealing. If swarming termites are found in large numbers inside a building or structure, a pest control professional certified in termite treatment should be contacted. Regardless of the outcome, the termites vs ants investigation is one that any home or business owner can enter into armed with the knowledge of the differences between the two.