Termites vs Ants

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termite 2

For any homeowners unlucky enough to end up with a termite infestation, the main thing you're going to notice is flying insects. It won't just be the occasional fly or mosquito buzzing through your house, but a swarm. The swarm may not consist of only termites; there can be flying ants/carpenter ants as well. Although a termite and flying ant may look similar to you, a pest control specialist knows how to tell the two apart.

  Termite Treatment

Flying Ant

Flying Ant

Elbowed antennae
Two pairs of wings, rear wings smaller than front wings
Wings have few well-defined veins
Pinched waist
Long legs

Termite Swarmer

Termite Swarmer

Straight antennae
Two pairs of wings the same size and shape
More and finer veins in wings create a lace-like appearance
Broad waist
Short legs

Even if termites and flying ants don't stay still long enough for you to notice any physical differences in their appearances, it's still helpful to know what those differences are. The differences are mainly in their wings, antennas and waists. A termite has straight antennas along with wings of an equal length. A flying ant's antennas are bent and their wings aren't equal. Termites have a straight waist while flying ants have a pinched waist. Even with a couple dozen of them flying around, it shouldn't be hard to tell if you've got termites, flying ants or both.

Besides the few differences in their physical appearance, termites and flying ants also behave differently. Termites will reside in areas with wood. Only some ants, such as carpenter ants, are found residing in areas with wood. Termites eat wood while carpenter ants don't and therefore will cause more damage to a building's structure. Termites will also eat paper while flying ants/carpenter ants mostly eat other insects and crumbs of food lying around.

The life cycle of an ant includes the egg stage, larva stage, pupa stage and adult stage. The life cycle of a termite also has an egg stage and adult stage, but includes a nymph stage between being an egg and an adult. The life span of an ant can be a few months or several years depending on the kind of ant. The life span of a termite is typically a few years. With both ants and termites, the queens are able to live the longest.

Also similar between flying ants/carpenter ants and termites is their reproductive cycles. Both fly out to mate and reproduce during warm weather. After they mate, both lose their wings. With ants, the males die after the mating. But with termites, both the males and females live to reproduce and grow new colonies.

How will you be able to tell if you have termites? Some signs to watch out for are a swarm of flying insects and detached wings near doorways and windowsills. Another sign to notice is wooden parts of your house's structure looking damaged. Shelter tubes made out of mud are also a sign of termites. If you aren't completely sure the tube was made by termites, destroy it and see if another tube reappears.

If you find out you have termites, you're going to be worried and there will be no question why. You're well aware that they eat wood and can cause major damage if not detected soon. You can especially be worried if your house is mostly a wooden structure. It can cost thousands to billions of dollars to repair the damage termites cause and your insurance most likely won't cover the cost.

One termite treatment that is safe to use inside and outside is liquid termite treatment. It acts as a barrier to provide protection to your house. Dry foam can be used in interior spaces to ward off subterranean termites. If you find out you have an infestation or think you might possibly have one, call in a specialist to perform a termite inspection. The sooner a possible infestation is detected, the better.