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The Differences Between Termites & Flying Ants

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The Differences Between Termites & Flying Ants
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A quick look at termites and flying ants and might make you think the insects are twins. But despite their likeness, the wood-destroying bugs have a few physical differences, from their abdomens to their antennae. If any of these species has invaded your house in large numbers, they will destroy your wooden structures, although all in a different way.

Termites

Let’s start with termites, popularly known as insects that feed on dead or decaying plant material, including the wood used in building your house. They are irritating because you might not know about their infestation until severe damage has already been caused.

Termites live in large caste colonies, which means there are different types of jobs within the group, just like the workers and the queen that rules them. Depending on the species (there exist over 2,000 worldwide and 40 in the U.S.), these colonies can be as large as several million individuals.

The termites seen flying around are the reproductive individuals that fly away and create new termite colonies. Workers, which are the ones that make up majority of the colony, are not only responsible for the damages done to your house, but also eating and feeding of the rest of the group. Read More about Termites Here.

Formosan Termite

Formosan Termite

Flying Ants

Flying ants feed on nectar, food debris, and even other insects, as opposed to your house. Over 10,000 species of ants exist all over the world, most of which have winged indiviuals.

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They also form caste colonies, also headed by a queen. There also have worker ants, and again, the ones seen flying around with wings are the reproductive individuals. The workers are non-reproductive females that care for the queen and her children, and also find food for the colony.

Like termites, reproductive male and female flying ants leave the colony to mate and create new colonies. Flying ants can be seen around at the same time of year as termites.

flying ant

flying ant

Termites vs. Flying Ants

Termites and flying ants have similar looks! But there are some available distinct differences that will assist you in deciding the kind of pest control you wish to want to visit your house.

1. Taxonomy

Though they look similar, flying ants, otherwise known as carpenter ants, and termites entirely belong to two order of insects. Flying ants belong to the Formicidae family of insects, which also belongs to the Hymenoptera order of insects that includes ants, bees, wasps and sawflies. There are 2,300 species of termites belonging to seven families and those families consist only of termites that belong to the Isoptera order.

2. Abdomen

Carefully observe a flying ant and a termite side-by-side and a difference is noticeable in the shape of the insects’ thoraxes and abdomens. A termite’s abdomen, especially the creature’s back end, looks like a stretched oval. The abdomen connects to the termite’s thorax — the part between the head and abdomen — seamlessly. The difference is, a flying ant’s abdomen is shaped like a fatter, shorter oval. With a thin connection joining the abdomen to the thorax, giving the ant the appearance of having a belted waist. The connection is not seamless at all compared to a termite’s appearance.

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3. Antennae and Legs

Both flying ants and termites have two antennae and six legs, but don’t share similarity. Termites have short and straight antennae, while flying ants sport longer antennae that bend horizontally near the base and then vertically shoot-up. A flying ant’s antennae looks a bit like a football goal post. A termite’s legs are quite short, while a flying ant’s legs are long.

4. Wings

Ants and termites have forewings and hind wings. In termites, the two pairs share identical size. In flying ants, the forewings are a bit larger than the hind wings. Although this difference exists between the two insects, it’s not noticed easily . The size difference can be noticed easily when a camera snaps the two insects closely than when they’re flying and scampering around inside your home. If opportuned to find a dead one, take the opportunity to inspect the insect’s wings.

5. Dangers

Though both insects have the ability to destroy the interior part of your house, termites are actually considered a greater threat. Termites feed on wood, while flying ants simply remove wood to enable them build tunnels and expand their homes. If a termite is discovered in your home it means a nest is close by and is likely inside the house. Meanwhile finding a flying ant in your home, on the other hand, does not signify an infestation. The University of Connecticut Integrated Pest Management Program shares a view that foragers from nests existing outside will consider making their way indoors. They issue a warning that if large numbers of ants are found every day or piles of sawdust in winter, it’s likely an infestation has occurred. The best way to resolve a termite or flying ant problem requires the services of a professional pest control specialist. On no account should you consider tackling the problem yourself.

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