Ants and termites are similar in many ways, which means that they are often confused for each other. Both types of these insects live in colonies, have a winged reproductive class, and are similar in size. The methods used to get rid of them are different, however, so correct identification is crucial for effective pest control.
Both ants and termites are insects, so they have three main body parts that consist of a head, thorax, and abdomen. Ants have a node between the thorax and abdomen that gives them a narrow, constricted waist. Termites do not have this pinched waist, and instead are fairly thick throughout their body.
Termites and ants look most similar when it comes to the reproductive class. Male and female reproductives (known as alates) have wings and will engage in a nuptial flight when it is time to mate. Once they find a mate, they will land, twist off their wings, and form a new colony. If you notice these swarms around your home, you need to be on the lookout for possible infestations. The wings can help you distinguish which pest you are dealing with. While each group has 2 pairs of wings, ant wings are different sizes. The front wings are larger than the hind ones. Termite wings are roughly the same length, and they are much longer in proportion to their bodies.
The antennae of ants are segmented and bent (elbowed). An ant’s antennae are also much longer than a termite’s. Termite antennae are short and straight. If you get really close, you may also see what looks like very small beads running along the antennae of a termite.
Ants come in many different colors like red, yellow, black, and brown. The termite reproductives may be different colors as well, but the worker termites are almost always pale yellow or nearly translucent in color.
While they are very similar in appearance, some of their behaviors are quite different. Ants spend a lot of time above ground. You will notice them foraging for food and “marching” in lines. Ants eat many things like sweets, nectar, seeds, meats, plants, and more. Termites are rarely seen because they spend their time underground or hidden inside structures. They need a humid environment to survive, so they build mud tubes to get to their food, instead of venturing into the open. The main source of food for termites is cellulose, which is found in wood. Even carpenter ants, which tunnel in wood, do not actually eat it.
Ant and Termite Control
Now that you can distinguish which pest you are dealing with, PF Harris has the products that will help you get rid of them. Harris termite powder can be used on a current infestation or to prevent a future one. We also offer ant baits and an aerosol ant killer to get rid of them for good. Choose Harris products for all of your DIY home pest control needs.
For more information, check out Termites: The Ultimate Guide.