Ant v. Termite

Ants vs Termites: How to Tell the Difference

There are few things worse than a home overrun with insects. Infestations often happen abruptly and unexpectedly. They will quickly interrupt your daily routine and add a heaping measure of stress to your life. Insects are among the most pernicious home invaders due to their size and stealth — along with their ability to multiply and accumulate in a matter of days and weeks.

“Swarmers” are among the bugs that can easily make your way into your home — chiefly ants and termites. Both multiply rapidly. They quickly overtake your physical space and can potentially threaten your health. But each insect behaves slightly different and to eliminate them, each must be treated slightly differently. The real question: are you dealing with ants or termites, and how do you tell a termite from an ant? Trapline is here to discuss the differences and get you on your way to speedy treatment and eradication. 

 Ants vs Termites: Basic Differences 

Yes, the two insects sometimes seem indistinguishable — and it’s challenging to tell them apart without carefully observing their anatomy. If you’re able to see one close-up, you’ll have a better idea of the problem on your hands. A termite’s body is fairly uniform throughout. On the other hand, an ant is more clearly sectioned. Termite wings feature rounded tips while ant wings are more pointed. Significantly, you’re more likely to encounter ants outside, while termites love to nest indoors. Consider the current time of year. If it’s early spring, you’re more likely to encounter a swarm of termites, while ants tend to swarm during the summer months. 

termites and larvae in wood nest

 Ants vs Termites: The Body

Upon initial assessment, you’ll see that both insects are small with black wings, but when looking at each part of the body, you’ll see that while both possess a head, thorax, and abdomen, the termite’s body seems like it could be one single entity while the ant’s body is more clearly divided into individual units. The ant’s “waist” appears pinched and thinner – similar to other varieties of ants. Additionally, a termite’s antennae are straight with small beads, while the ant’s are bent.

ant vs termite differences

 Ant vs Termite: The Wings

You will notice that both termites and ants have four distinct wings — but look closely, and you’ll see that they’re markedly different depending on which of the bugs you’re observing. A termite’s wings are the same length and roughly twice as large as the body. You’ll see rounded wingtips, fragile, translucent, and easily detached. For termite infestations, it’s not uncommon to find discarded wings. 

When you’re observing an ant, you’ll see that the wings are close to the same size as the body — longer than the ant’s back and pointed at the tip rather than rounded. The wings are light brown, with the lower set much shorter than the upper set, particularly compared to the uniform length of the termite wings. Female ants will lose their wings upon mating, so if your bugs are crawling more, they are probably ants.

Termites vs Ants: Habitat

While both termites and ants can be found in warm weather, often after rainfall. They love warm and humid conditions.  Ants actually thrive outdoors and you’ll usually spot them around windows and doors or in the kitchen, where they search out food crumbs. In terms of their relative danger, although they are irritating,  ants probably won’t cause damage to your home in the same way a termite does. 

Swarms of termites love an indoor space. They are more difficult to see and locate as they squeeze themselves into cavities and crevices, where they eat through walls, flooring, and wooden surfaces. The first sign of them will probably be small holes in your wood. If left unchecked, termites can rack up costly damage to any property. If you see or suspect termites, we recommend calling Trapline immediately and allowing us to assess the situation.

Ant colony inside home
Ant colony

Termite vs  Ant: Behavior

Both insects gather and swarm in large numbers during their mating phase. They will multiply and begin building and maintaining their colonies until their death. The warmer months is the time of year where they seek out mates and this would be the time to be most vigilant. Again, termites often swarm in the early spring months while ants amass during the summer. This is the time to remain on the lookout and to contact a pest control company at the earliest sign of a colony or an infestation. It’s better to act early than wait for a pest situation to get out of hand. 

part of roof house after attack of termite.
Wood, part of roof house after attack of termite. Peril from insect concept.

The Dangers Posed by  Ants and Termites

Unfortunately, if you encounter a noticeable number of swarmers within your home, odds are a colony is already forming near your home or within its walls. This reality poses its own set of challenges, but because colonies enlarge and expand so rapidly, it is imperative to take immediate action. Obviously, the larger a colony grows, the harder it will be to contain and control. Groups of breakaway bugs can easily move away from the larger mass and start forming other smaller colonies. Get in touch with Trapline to discuss treatment options and get rid of these pests for good. We’ll help you get insect-free and take the right steps to prevent a future infestation.

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Having trouble with those pesky rodents and insects? Want to learn more or need professional help with one of our many services? Contact Trapline today!
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