The Menace of Flying Ants Vs Termites: An A-Z Guide
It is very difficult to understand the difference between flying ants vs termites, but pest control professionals are trained to do so. To understand whether your house is infested or not, one must be able to make clear distinctions between the two. But first, let us study the two species separately.
Flying Ants or Termites?
Flying Ants Are Attracted To Water Defects
Many people have seen flying ants in their homes but fail to recognize them, and instead, these insects are labeled as termites. Carpenter ants are a specific species of ants which can fly and reproduce. If you notice that flying ants have suddenly turned up at your house, this could be bad news.
These insects showing up during winter is all the more dangerous because this means that they probably have nested in your house.
However, seeing an occasional flying ant does not mean anything. Ants may fly through your house and then die because they couldn’t find any place for nesting. Flying ants or carpenter ants are usually spotted in places which have water leakages. If you see the insects near these moist areas, chances are they are flying ants and not termites.
Termites Hide And Destroy
Termites have been labeled as silent destroyers because they hide in and damage your furniture and property. You can identify a termite infestation in construction places mostly by tapping on wood. If you hear a hollow tap, that means it has been infested with termites and they’ve fed on the inside of the wood.
You will also notice wings that have been discarded close by. The three most common types of termites that exist are dry wood, damp wood, and subterranean termites. Termites are what are called detritivores which means they consume dead plantation and trees. Apart from wood, termites will also eat plastics, paper etc. Their eating habits differ according to the type of termites.
The biggest sign that it is a termite and not flying ants is if you notice the decomposing of your properties wooden structures.
How to Tell the Difference Between Flying Ants and Termites: Appearance
A termite can easily be recognized by its antennae which are straight. Their wings have the same length and their abdomen is straight. Termite wings are also placed on top of one another which give the appearance of one instead of two wings. They can be either brown or black but their wings are transparent.
In the case of flying ants, their antennae are bent and the length of their wings are unequal. These insects also have an extremely thin abdomen which appears to be pinched towards the center. They can be reddish, black or even brown.
Flying ants vs termites Infographic
Difference Between Termites and Flying Ants: Behavior
Ants, as well as termites, social insects. Both insects live in colonies with a caste system and a designated task. Termites usually inhabit wooden surroundings like wood that has decayed stumps, wooden debris, etc. A few species of ants like the carpenter ants reside within wooden dwellings as well.
However, these ants are never seen eating wood, unlike termites that can completely ruin the wooden structure by consuming it.
Termites usually swarm during spring while ants are known to fly during the summer season. Both of these species – flying ants and termites, are seeing swarming around sources which emit light when it is dark.
Difference in Diet
As we already know, termites survive on wood which they do for the purpose of deriving cellulose. Cellulose is the main nutrient that termites survive on. Ants, on the other hand, happen to be omnivores and consume nectar, other insects, seeds etc.
Life Stages of the Two
There are significant distinctions between the termite life cycle and life cycle of ants. The ant’s life cycle constitutes four stages while the termite’s life cycle has only three stages. The four different stages of the ant’s life are egg, larvae, pupae and adult stage. The worker class of ants survives for fewer years while queens have a longer lifespan.
Termites go through the egg stage, the nymph or larval stage and the adult stage. Termites live for many years and the queen termite can survive for decades.
Male ants usually die right after mating while females survive. However, male termites and their female counterparts both survive post the mating period. Both species lose wings right after mating.
Apart from physical and behavioral traits, there are several other fronts at which these insects are different from each other. This includes the different types of damage these insects cause.
Type of Damage Caused By Termites vs. Flying Ants
On the exterior, the damage caused by both, termites and flying ants, look almost the same. But when you look close there are many differences between the two.
In case of flying ants, they only hollow out the wooden spaces in order to create tunnels. For this purpose, they prefer rotten wood or soft wood. Also, these insects are attracted to places that have water leakages or other water-related defects. After mating, the wings of flying ants are often found near the windowsills of your house. The infected wooden areas will definitely also have piles of wooden sawdust from the hollowing out process. All of these indicators mean that the insect is a flying ant.
Similarly, termite wings are also usually left behind near doors and windows however it is easy to differentiate them as their wings are of the same size. Termite wings are twisted which means that they do not actually shed wings. The damage to wood is usually behind or below surfaces such as walls. Termites also prefer hiding safely meaning if you notice insects crawling near you, there is a good chance that they are ants.
Controlling Termites Compared to Flying Ants
Flying ants are not as much of a problem as termites but they can cause a lot of damage if they are left unnoticed. Not just that, their presence also indicates that your house may have some water leakage or related defect.
You can use insecticidal dust to control flying ants. You may have to look for their nesting areas or drill a couple of holes to inject this dust and control the infestation.
This works best for indoor purposes. If the infestation is outdoors then you can use a perimeter spray. Make sure you follow the instructions provided to be safe. Baits are also an effective way but are slower when it comes to a long-term goal.
A termite infestation is also very dangerous and the smallest step can help you save lots of efforts. Termites infest areas with a lot of moisture so try reducing it. Remove too much plant cover and stagnant water around.
Ensure that all vents in your house are clear and try sealing points of entry near sources of water like pipes. Get rid of debris or unnecessary wooden structures and ensure the wood you have isn’t touching the soil.
In conclusion, it is important to understand that either of the two pests may cause trouble if your house is infested. To avoid problems, keep a watch on the kind of insects in your house and try to use the above pointers to recognize which of the two has infested your house. If caught in the early stages, the above control measures can easily be used to solve the menace.
However, if you delay it too much and allow the colonies to grow inside then you may have to call a professional pest control service for help. It’s never too late to act upon, so start recognizing and taking preventive actions.