Have you ever noticed a swarm of insects crawling around your home and wondered what they were? They might look like ants, but what if you’ve got a termite infestation on your hands?
This article will provide you with 7 easy ways to tell the difference between ants and termites. Once you’ve figured out who your intruders are, you’ll have a much better idea of how to take care of that pesky infestation.
Termites VS Ants: 7 Ways to Differentiate Them
1. Body shape
Both termites and ants are so small that it might be difficult to see the differences in their bodies. However, here’s one thing that’ll be pretty clear once you get up close and personal with the critters: ants have an hourglass shape (pinched bodies) while termites are rectangular (straight bodies). In addition, an ant has 3 body parts while termites have 2, so you’ll be able to see the different sections in an ant’s body easily, but that won’t be the case with a termite.
Another difference between these two insects is their antennae. You’ll notice that ants have elbowed antennae. This means that ant antennae are bent, usually at a stark 90-degree angle. On the other hand, termites have straight antennae. Even if their antennae appear slightly bent, the bends won’t be as obvious as they are in ants. Termite antennae are beaded as well.
Not all ants and termites have wings. The carpenter ants and termites that do have wings are the reproducing members of their colony. Flying ants and termites each have two pairs of wings. While termite wings are equal in size, an ant’s front wings are bigger than its hind wings.
This is one difference you might already have been aware of: ants are generally darker-coloured whereas termites are lighter. Ants can be red, black, or brown. Termites are usually a white or pale cream colour. They might even be transparent!
Ants typically live in nests. Where they choose to build their nest varies. Some ant nests are underground or under a rock, while others are above the ground in a hill made of gravel, sand, or twigs. Meanwhile, termites prefer to make their homes in warm, damp areas. This means they might set up camp close to a light source.
6. Type of damage they cause
Both ants and termites create tunnels for travel purposes. While tunnels built by carpenter ants are incredibly well-ordered and polished, it’s likely that the termite tunnels you find will be rough and jagged, with muck caked all over them. Termite mud tubes can be found on the exteriors or foundations of buildings.
If you notice mud tubes around your house and realise you have a termite problem, you need to eliminate these critters as soon as possible. While carpenter ants often take several years to do any serious damage, termites can cause significant structural damage pretty quickly. Termites often hide inside wooden structures and eat them from the inside, leaving the structures hollow. Even if structures like doorframes, window frames, or support beams appear fine, there might be severe internal wood damage.
Both ants and termites are drawn to wood, but unlike termites, ants have weak jaws and can’t eat the wood they find. Hence, while termites chomp away, ants mainly use wood to make tunnels for themselves and their offspring.
So, termites feed on wood (among a few other things). What do ants eat? Well, you’ve probably already figured this out in your experience with insects – ants will eat pretty much anything. They’re omnivorous, and they’ve got their eye on the food in your kitchen.
Can I have termites if I have ants?
Yes, you can! These insects are definitely not mutually exclusive. In fact, some ants actually choose to live in termite tunnels. This doesn’t mean that ants and termites live in harmony with one another though. Ants, while smaller than termites, are considered predators of the white insects. When they find a termite tunnel they want to inhabit, the fight begins. The ants will bring out their armies while the termites bring out theirs. In short, instead of having just an ant infestation or a termite infestation, you could end up with both!
Do white ants exist?
No, they don’t. If you spot what seems to be a white ant, take a closer look. You might notice that this ant has a rectangular body shape, straight antennae, and wings of the same size. It’s a termite! Termites are often referred to as “white ants” even though they’re not ants at all.
How do termites and ants get inside a house?
The way termites get inside a house depends on what type of termites they are. Dampwood termites usually locate a wooden structure that has been dampened by leaking pipes or rainwater. Drywood termites, like their name suggests, prefer dry wood. So, if there are dried out wooden structures around your house, drywood termites will take these as their entry points, especially during the swarming season, or they can be brought in from your furniture as well. Meanwhile, subterranean termites, which love humidity, use mud tunnels to get in.
For ants, finding a way into your house is even more straightforward. Ants are scavengers, and if they know you have food in the house, they’ll come in through any cracks or gaps in your home’s exterior.
What’s the best way to detect a termite infestation in your home?
Even with all the information above, it’s easy to miss the signs that termites have invaded your home. By the time you finally notice signs like mud tunnels or wood damage, you’ve probably already had termites for a while.
If you want to know if you have termites before termite damage occurs, call a pest control professional. Pest control professionals can carry out termite inspections in your home. These inspections are crucial whether you’re considering purchasing a new place or maintaining your current one.
Use proper technology to detect termites
A particularly good way of detecting a termite infestation is through thermal imaging detection. Unlike regular inspections, which involve a pest control expert taking a look at typical termite hotspots in your home, thermal imaging helps to detect damages in potential areas based on temperature.
Even more accurate than thermal imaging are listening devices. The unique sound pattern produced by termites can be detected by a device set to a certain frequency range. This helps pest control professionals zero in on the likely origin of the infestation.
At Termite Specialist, although we have both technologies, we often utilise the gold standard of listening devices as it allows us to scan potential areas for termite activity in mere seconds. This method is more effective than relying solely on the human eye and allows our team to precisely detect any issues that may have been missed with traditional inspections.
Contact Termite Specialist in Singapore
If you’re still not sure whether you’re dealing with an ant or termite infestation, our team at Termite Specialist would be happy to conduct an inspection for you. Contact us to have a pest control professional assess your situation and eliminate these pests today!