How to Tell the Difference Between Ants and Termites?

Ants and termites are remarkably similar in many ways. They both live in colonies with a caste system consisting of a queen and king, a reproductive class, workers, and soldiers. They are also similar in size and appearance. Being able to accurately identify if the insects are ants or termites is extremely important so that you can get rid of them using the correct treatment methods.

Termites and ants look especially similar when the reproductive classes swarm. A couple of times a year, winged reproductives, known as alates, take part in a nuptial flight to find a mate and establish a new colony. Seeing either of these types of insects swarming around your home is not a pleasant feeling, but termites can be particularly devastating and need to be taken care of quickly. Luckily, there are some easy ways to be able to distinguish if you are dealing with ants or termites. Look closely at the following features:

Body Shape: Like all insects, ants have three main body parts, the head, thorax, and abdomen. Between the thorax and abdomen is a node that gives them a pinched or constricted waist. This narrowing at the waist is well-defined and visible to the human eye. Termites, on the other hand, have a thick body that looks fairly rectangular all the way down. There is no narrowing on a termite.

Antenna: Ants have segmented antenna that are bent or elbowed. The antenna of termites are shorter, straight, and have very small beads along them like a chain of pearls.

Wings: The reproductive swarmers of each group have 2 pairs of wings. Ant wings are different sizes, with the front wings being larger than the hind ones. Termite wings are much longer in proportion to their bodies than ants are, and both pairs of wings are roughly the same length.

Eyes: Ants have compound eyes that are good for sensing movement, but do not offer high resolution imagery. Some types of termites are completely blind because they do not have eyes at all. They spend their entire lives underground and have no use for them. Swarming termites do have eyes, but poor vision.

Color: Ants can be many different colors from red or yellow to brown or black. Reproductive termites can also be several different colors, but worker termites are almost always pale yellow or creamy white (almost translucent) in color.

Behavior: Ants are regularly seen above ground, moving about foraging for food. They will eat many different things, but wood is not one of them. Carpenter ants will tunnel through wood, but they do not eat it. Termites consume wood as their main source of food. They also like to stay hidden in their nests or mud tubes. 

These features and behaviors should help you identify whether you have ants or termites. Regardless of which is bugging you, the experts at Radar Pest Control can help you get rid of them. We specialize in Sunshine Coast termite inspections, monitoring, barriers, and baiting. We can also get rid of ants, rodents, wasps, and other household pests. For pest control Sunshine Coast, contact Radar Pest Control today.


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