Ants and termites can be treated as relatives, but they are not siblings at all. Many people mistake ants and termites to be one, but this is not the reality. Ants and termites are lookalike but always in a position to start off a battle. Termites may cause significant damage to your property, but ants do not cause any such losses but can annoy you if you sight the ant colonies moving in your house. The ants can steal a bit of your food but will not dig out things and wood in your house whereas you very well know termites for their habit of digging out wood and nesting in places where they can find such things. So let us understand the difference between termites and flying ants in detail.
Table of Contents
- Carpenter ants
- Flying ants
- Difference between termites and flying ants
Ants are insects that have their own characteristics and features that differentiate it from termites. Ants travel considerable distances to search for their food and have a capability of laying down some specific scent to show the path for the other ants to reach the food. Ants are dark coloured tiny insects that have an elbowed antenna and two eyes that are situated at the ends of both the sides of their head. These ants also have a caste which categorises them into different categories. Here are the castes of ants:
* Worker caste
The worker castes of ants are females and take care of the queen ant and the young ones. They are responsible for storage of food and have the responsibility of maintaining the nest. These worker caste ants are comparatively smaller in comparison to the other ants.
* Soldier caste
The soldier ants are comparatively bigger in size in comparison to the worker ants and area polymorphic species. These soldier ants are also female and are bestowed with the responsibility of protecting the ant colonies. They are also capable of carrying heavy objects by making use of their large claws.
* Winged drones
Winged drones are the male members of the ant colony and have the work of reproducing and bringing more ants into this world by mating with the female ants. They are not workers or soldiers to do some hard and fast work but come with the sole responsibility of reproducing. These male ants fly off with their female counterparts for mating and for producing a new colony of their own. A surprising fact about these male ants is that they die after the mating process.
Carpenter ants are considered somewhat similar to termites because they also have same nesting habits as of termites. Carpenter ants do not eat wood like termites, but they feed on the fungus found in rotten wood and apart from this they also use the wooden particles for making their nests. So it is many times mistaken as a termite though they don’t consume wood but have a hand in using the wooden particles for their nesting.
Flying ants are also many a time confused with termites because they also have the capability of flying whereas both these insects have distinguished features which classify them into two different species. These flying ants are also females and flies away from their own nests during the summer season to mate with the male ants and build a new colony. A surprising fact about these female ants is that they shed off their wings to use it as a protein source to feed their new family.
Termites are sometimes mistaken as white ants, but the reality is not this, this is just a misconception, and they are profoundly different from the ants based on numerous characteristics. Termites feed on cellulose which is found majorly found in wood and plants. Thus you can always find these termites making their shelter place where they can find wood. Cellulose content can also be found in other things such as cardboard, plants, etc. thus there are chances that you can discover termites invading such places as well. Termites also have an appearance similar to the ants and have almost the same shape and size which makes them related in proximity. The colours of termites are light white or cream in colour and are a bit translucent. They also have antennas like the flying ants, but they have straight antennas that are not bent. Termites also have their own castes, they basically have three castes, and each caste has their own responsibilities and duties. Continue reading to learn about the caste of termites.
* Soldier termites
A soldier termite exists in both the genders male and female, and they are bestowed with the major responsibility of protecting their colonies. They have big jaws and an oversized head in comparison to their bodies. The jaws that these soldier ants possess are so large that it causes hindrance for them to feed themselves on their own. Thus they have to depend on the worker termites to feed on their food. They even give their lives in lieu of protecting their colonies.
* Winged termites
Winged termites are also known as alate and have the primary responsibility of mating and reproduction. These alates leave their colony and fly during summers to perform their main function of coupling. Once the mating process completes the wings of these termites drop and hence they start their own new colony. A major thing to note if you are comparing flying ants vs termites is that the wings possessed by these termites are equal in size and do not differ as in the case of flying ants.
* Worker termites
Worker termites also exist in both the genders that are male and female. They are actually the workers of the termite colony and are solely responsible for building and mining. You can treat them as midwives of the termite colony who are shouldered upon with the main working responsibilities. The damage that you see in your house is done by these worker category termites, and the workers are found the most in number in comparison to the winged and soldier termites.
Difference between termites and flying ants
Termites and flying ants look similar to each other to a great extent, but they have different social structures if observed with open eyes. Ants and termites have their own different categories such as queen, workers, reproducers, soldiers and they have their own structure which can be differentiated on the basis of an ant and a termite. You might have heard about termites chewing up the wood in a single go, but this is just a misconception. Yes, they do chew up the wood, but it is not possible for them to finish such a big deal at once they can take a tremendous amount of time as they do the wood chewing task in bits. The ants and termites have a similar feature of swarming which signifies the sending of a reproducer from their colony to mate with the opposite sex of another colony and to find out a new place for their living and anew home. Flying ants and termites are related to each other in close proximity but have very minute differences between them. If you are spotting them from a distance, then it is really tough to crack whether it is a termite or a flying ant. But if you cut down the distance between yourself and these insects you can consider few features of these insects which will help you in determining the difference between the two. Here is how you can identify the difference between termites and flying ants:
* Wing size
Both flying ants and termites have four wings, but there is a slight difference amongst the size of their wings. If you are trying to distinguish amongst flying ants vs termites, then it is essential for you to note the shape and size of their wings. The flying ants have all its four wings in uniform shape and size whereas the termites have their front wings slightly larger in size in comparison to their pair of back wings.
* Place of sighting ants and termites
Though unbelievable but yes you can also distinguish between ants and termites by locating their place or geography. If you find these ants invading our kitchen, then you are surely sighting flying ants because they are the ones who will invade your kitchen to get themselves a gala treat on the food that you must have stored in your kitchen or the leftover food in your trash bins. They will enter your kitchen to get traces of all the edible items that they may shell out of your kitchen. Talking about termites, they will not be found in your kitchen stealing your food but will be located in places where they can get suitable wood to dig out and make their home. They can be seen in areas such as attics and rafters or almost any place where they can find wood and build shelter place for themselves.
* Body division
The flying ant's body looks like if it is divided into three parts namely head, thorax, and abdomen and you can easily see the sections on their body. A termite’s body is not divided into three sections and have a comparatively thicker body in comparison to the ants. The termites only possess two sections that are their thorax and head.
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* Soft and hard constraint
Termite swarmers have a body that is soft in comparison to the ant swarmer’s which have a comparatively harder body.
* Destruction caused by these insects
Termites can cause enormous losses for your home by chewing up your expensive wooden doors, floors, etc. But ants do not cause such huge damages and can create a nuisance for you rather than causing damages. They only feed on edible items and may steal a bit of your food and do not peck on your wooden pieces.
Another feature to distinguish flying ants vs termites is the antennae that they possess. The antennas of flying ants are slightly turned, or you may call it elbowed towards the inner side whereas the antennas of a termite are straight and do not have any bends.
* Shape of the body
If you see a flying ant, you can characterise them as a segmented insect as they have their waist thinner in comparison to their entire body thus you can see different sections of a flying ant’s body. But if you see a termite, their body is in uniform shape along the entire length of their body.
* Waist size
If you see an ant that has a broader waist, then it is probably a termite, and flying ants have a thinner waist in comparison to the termites.
* Wings in comparison to the body
If you have a look at the termites to distinguish flying ants vs termites, then you can find them having wings that are almost twice the length of their body whereas flying ants have their wings which is in proportion with their bodies.
* Metamorphosis stage
Though this is not a difference that you can plot easily in one go, you have to study the insect very minutely and from day one to differentiate them on the basis of metamorphosis. Termites undergo a gradual metamorphosis stage whereas ants undergo a complete metamorphosis system. The complete metamorphosis process of an ant includes lying of eggs, larvae, pupa and finally an adult. The gradual metamorphosis of termites includes the eggs, the nymph and finally an adult. So if you want to study the difference between flying ants vs termites, then you have to carefully observe the whole metamorphosis process of flying ants and termites.
Flying ants and termites are similar to each other but are not the same. Now you must have understood the dissimilar features of flying ants vs termites and would be surprised to know that these insects are die-hard enemies of each other. Yes, you have heard it right if they turn out for entering into a WWE war then it is better that you bet your money on the flying ants because they have more chances of winning the war game.