Termites vs. Ants: 5 Differences
You may spot small bugs running around, but are they termites or ants? The resemblance between termites and ants is strong. It’s easy to confuse these winged creatures.
Both ants and termites can wreak havoc, and appear in large numbers, something that makes it challenging to tell them apart. However, specific characteristics make them different. Knowing the differences will help you determine how to deal with each pest to control and prevent an infestation.
In this guide, get to learn the difference between termites and carpenter ants. Learn more about the damage each pest can cause and more.
What are Ants?
Ants are social insects that live in large colonies or groups. They can eat any food, although they are attracted to sweet items. Ants can live for weeks to years, depending on the availability of food and water.
These insects can range from 1/12 to one inch in size, depending on the species. Moreover, they have a head, thorax, and abdomen. Some ant species have wings that they lose after their flight.
Ants also have a narrow waist, powerful jaws, large heads, and elbowed antennae. You can find nest communities underground, in trees, and ground level mounds.
Ants Social Behavior
Ant communities have the queen as their head. The queen lays thousands of eggs to ensure the colony survives. Workers who are wingless females forage for food and don’t reproduce. Moreover, they care for the queen’s offspring, protect the territory, work on the nest, among other duties. The male ants mates with the queen, and dies.
Ants use chemicals to alert their counterparts of danger. They also release an odor to lead them to a potential food source. Ants eat insects, nectar, fungus, and ad seeds. However, army ants can prey on tiny animals, birds, and reptiles.
Types of Ants
There are several types of ants like:
Crazy ants are brown or black and have long antennae and legs. They measure two to three millimeters long, and they form colonies in dry or moist environments. When outdoors, they nest in mulch, garbage, soil, and dense vegetation. They don’t have stingers but invade in large groups.
This ant species are structural pests. They do not eat wood, but they excavate it to create nests. Carpenter ants nest on roofs, trees, and any woodwork around your house. Some species are aggressive, and if disturbed.
Fire ants have a coppery-brown color on their head and body. They create a nest on logs and objects found near the ground. If disturbed, the fire ants can inflict a painful sting. These ants consume earthworms, insects, and sweet foods.
Dark Rover Ants
Dark rover ants measure about 1.6 millimeters and have a dark brown color. You’ll find them nesting outdoors in parking lots, under items on the ground, and by grass edges.
The ants are common in kitchens and bathrooms. They prefer sweet items. Dark rover ants do not sting, although they can be a nuisance.
Acrobat ants are about three millimeters long with two nodes. They have a yellowish-brown color, although some species are black. You’ll find them inside damaged wood structures, moist wood, and foam panels.
They resemble a scorpion when threatened as they lift their abdomens above their heads. Acrobat ants get their name from the appearance they have when lifting their abdomen in the air.
Moreover, they’re aggressive and sting. However, they do not frequent indoors and prefer to stay outside.
What is Termite?
Termites have a straight waist and antennae. Moreover, their wings are of the same length. They have a pale yellow color, although this may differ depending on the species.
These insects have six legs. Termites are about a quarter to half an inch in length.
Termite’s Social Behavior
Termites come out as a swarm in early spring. They live in colonies. Swarmers are winged termites that reproduce and create new colonies. The worker termites are sterile but are responsible for feeding the other termites.
Termites are winged insects that consume decaying plant material and wood. That’s why they are referred to as wood-destroying insects. These insects prefer to live in highly forested areas, while other species live in dry wood.
Types of Termites
The common types of termites include:
The Subterranean termites form tubes of mud to get access to wood through the ground. These termites bury themselves in the soil.
Also, these termites are the most destructive due to their below-ground lifestyle. A colony can build up for years without your knowledge, and later crop up to cause an infestation. They cause significant damage, unlike other types of termites.
Dry Wood Termites
These termites live in wooden structures that contain moisture. You’ll spot them on wooden furniture, something that makes them transferable to different states.
Damp wood Termites
Damp wood termites live in moist and rotting wood. They need water to survive and prefer to nest on logs floating in the water.
Carpenter Ants Vs. Termites
Are carpenter ants termites? No, carpenter ants are not termites, but they share certain similarities.
Below is everything you need to know about carpenter ants vs. termites, and the difference between carpenter ants and termites.
When it comes to carpenter ants vs. termites, the main difference between carpenter ants and termites is their body.
Carpenter ants appear segmented and have bent antennae. They also have nipped-in waists that are tiny. In regards to carpenter ants with wings vs. termites, ants have wings, but the front pair is bigger than the hind ones.
Termites have beaded-like straight antennae. Also, they have a rectangular body shape and have uniform wings, unlike carpenter ants. The termites only have two sections, the head, and thorax, while carpenter ants have a head, thorax, and abdomen.
Their Behavior and Characteristics
Although both carpenter ants and termites burrow wood, termites eat wood for food to get the nutrients they need. However, carpenter ants only destroy wood as they build their nest.
The Damage Caused
Another distinctive characteristic lies between carpenter ant damage vs. termite damage. Carpenter ants do not do as much harm to wood-like subterranean termites.
Nonetheless, when it comes to termite vs. carpenter ant damage, the ants can have a severe impact.
Damage caused by carpenter ants has wood that appears polished and smooth. However, the damage done by termites is messy as these pests are concerned with feeding their appetite. You’ll notice mud or dirt around the nesting holes that they make through their tunneling efforts.
Termite produces frass, but it’s their droppings. With termites, you’ll spot their actual droppings.
Termites go through stages like the egg, nymph, and adult, which is a gradual metamorphosis. The nymphs resemble adult workers. However, carpenter ants go through a complete transformation, which means it changes from egg to larvae to pupa and finally adult.
You can tell the difference between carpenter ants and termite by looking at signs of infestation.
The presence of ants swarming around foraging for food from their nest could signal an infestation. You may also notice piles of wood shavings underneath wooden parts or items in your home. Carpenter ants don’t nest on dry wood, but they prefer decaying or moist wood.
Termites feed on previously damaged or wet wood. However, some species can infest dry lumber. One common indication of subterranean termites is the damage they cause to wood. They’ll eat the grain of the wood.
What’s more, they burrow underground. You’ll notice mud or soil around the openings of their tunnels. During the warm, wet weather, the termites send out a swarm of winged termites to mate. That will tell you if you have a termite infestation.
While you can spot termites and carpenter ants when they swarm, they have varying levels of visibility. Termites feed on wood, but they spend their time hidden in spaces where they are unlikely to meet people.
Carpenter ants, on the other hand, live on wood and tend to go out to forage for food. You may spot them running around in pantries and kitchens.
Both ants and termites attack your house differently.
Termites create mud tubes once they infest your house. They create these tubs to hide their presence.
Carpenter ants build their homes in wood but do not make mud tubes, as they don’t require moisture to survive.
Potential Food Sources
Another difference between carpenter ants and termites is their source of attraction. Carpenter ants feed on wood as well as other sugary items like honey. However, termites rely solely on wood for their food.
Getting Rid of Carpenter Ants and Termites
It can be challenging to tell the difference between ants versus termites. It’s essential to contact a professional pest control company to determine the exact type of pest you have in your house.
They have the right tools, treatment methods, and the expertise to handle an infestation. You’ll be advised on how to handle the pest problem, and they’ll recommend a treatment plan.
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