Is That A Termite Or Is That An Ant?

Do you know the difference between a termite and an ant? If you look at them side-by-side can you tell which one is which?

These two insects look very much like each other, and if you don’t know the difference – or if you don’t look closely enough – you’ll easily mistake one for the other. I spent a couple years as a professional pest control technician, and I still have to take a long close look in order to tell these two guys apart.

But when you do know how an ant’s body differs from the termite, you distinguish one from the other more easily.

The key is to look for the ant first because it has a noticeable waist – it’s a  “pinched” waist. This bug is also unique from other insects in that its antennae have “elbows.” These are joints that let the elbowed antennae bend.

When you look at this insect’s body you see four main parts. First there’s the head. Behind that is the Alitrunk (or “upper body”). The Petiole comes next. (The Petiole is what I talk about when I mention the waist.) And the final part of the body is the Gaster. (You might think of that as the tail.)

When you look at the Petiole notice that it is smaller around than the Alitrunk and the Gaster. That’s what I mean by “pinched waist.” The ant has curves so to speak.Termite

A termite body doesn’t have curves like an ant. There’s no waist smaller than the tail as the sides of the body are almost straight along the rear two sections.  This insect’s body looks like an elongated oval.

Some people think the difference is that the termite has wings, and the ant doesn’t. This is not true though.

Both insects grow wings under certain conditions. Winged termites are members of the upper class. The male often sheds its wings after mating.

The ants that grow wings are the mating caste, and for the mating ritual they erupt from the nest in huge numbers. It’s what we call swarming (or the nuptial flight), and it happens often in the spring.

Most everyone knows that termites damage a home’s structure by eating the wood frame of the building. These insects are certainly not a pest we want living around our home for very long. Since a queen of this species lays up to two thousand eggs in a day a termite colony grows fast. It doesn’t take long for them to start munching your house out from under you.

But a termite infestation isn’t easy to get rid of. Treating for these insects requires a monitoring process, or you won’t successfully eradicate the colony. For this reason it’s often wise to contract a professional pest control company to do this job for you.

To get a professional pest control technician to handle this problem for you is convenient, but the job normally runs $1500 and up. You can learn how to perform the treatment process yourself, and the pesticides (along with a delivery system) are available at many hardware and building supply stores.

The treatment process consists of placing bait stations at strategic locations around the infested building. Then you create a schedule by which you check each station to make sure that you keep it loaded with bait.

Treatment for a termite infestation isn’t a hard job. But if you plan to do-it-yourself it’s very important that you understand it takes time, and it’s critical that you learn the proper procedures for eliminating these bugs to keep them from eating your furniture and house.


Leave a Reply