Ants Versus Termites

April showers may bring spring flowers, but the beginning of spring also announces the arrival of pesky ants and destructive termites!

As the cold weather fades and spring blows in, reproductive male and female ants and termites are looking for a place to call home—like your house! Your first line of defense against these pests is to correctly identify your new tenants. After all, if you don’t know what pest you have, you can’t properly combat them.

Is that pest an ant or a termite? How can you tell? Today, we’re discussing the key differences between ants and termites that you need to know.

Ants versus Termites: Appearance

There are a number of different kinds of ants and termites in Ohio and the Midwest. Common ants include odorous house ants, pavement ants, pharaoh ants, and carpenter ants. The most common termites in our area include eastern subterranean termites and dark southeastern subterranean termites.

While each species will look slightly different, there are a few key differences between ants and termites that you can spot. You just have to look closely at their build and anatomy!

The main differences are found in their antennae, wing structure, and waist size:

  • Both pests have antennae, but an ant’s antennae are elbowed, while a termite’s antennae are straighter.
  • A termite has wings that are equal in length, while the wings of an ant are unequal.
  • The waist size of an ant is much smaller when compared to a termite’s thick waist. This gives the ant more of a “pinched waist” shape, compared to the tube-like shape of the termite.

With all that in mind, take a look at the pictures below. Can you see the main differences?

In addition, there are a few other differences you might want to know.

As you can see in the pictures above, termites have more translucent and rounded wings. Since the wings seem to be stacked on top of each other, this gives the wings a whitish color. In contrast, ants have yellow or brown-tinted wings.

Also, termites are typically dark brown or black in color. The color of ants can vary, depending on the ant, but they can be brown, black, or red in color.

Ants versus Termites: Behavior

What about the behavior of ants vs termites? Like with their appearance, ants and termites have some important behavioral similarities and differences.

Both ants and termites are social creatures that live in colonies or nests. Also, both of these pests send out “workers” to bring food back to the entire colony. That means, if you see ants or termites in or around your home, you can be sure there is a colony nearby. That can be bad news!

A key difference in behavior? The amount of damage done by ants versus termites can vary wildly.

Most species of ants—odorous house ants, pavement ants, etc.—are mostly a big nuisance. Of course, you don’t want an infestation (they can spoil your food), so you can combat an ant problem with baits and ant treatment.

Termites and carpenter ants, on the other hand, are extremely destructive. Both of these pests can cause serious damage to the wood in your home. Termites actually eat wood and cellulose to survive, including walls, floors, furniture, paper, and more; carpenter ants chew through wood in order to create tunnels to move around and raise their young. Termite and carpenter ant damage can go unnoticed for months or even years, since they cause their damage out of sight.

What to Do

Clearly, you need to know whether you have termites or ants—and if you have ants, whether they are the annoying or the destructive kind!

If you have the odd pavement ant in your home, there’s not much to worry about. However, larger colonies of ants—the kind that are swarming in your home—should be dealt with by professionals. An experienced pest control professional can help prevent the ants from continuing to come into your home.

Carpenter and termites, on the other hand, should always be treated with professional pest control measures. It’s not a good idea to attempt to DIY pest control for termites or other destructive pests. DIY solutions aren’t generally effective, and the consequences of letting termites and carpenter ants chew through your home can be disastrous!

Don’t let these unwelcome guests get too comfortable in your home. If you notice termites or ants flying or crawling around your home, call ScherZinger Pest Control. We’re happy to help you determine which pest you have and suggest the best way to serve up an eviction notice.

Concerned you might have an ant or a termite infestation on your hands? Contact ScherZinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We’ve been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our website, Facebook, or Twitter.