Termites love to eat wood, destroy homes and eat up the trees that you just planted. It probably serves true that these annoying critters need to stay in the woods and leave our properties alone. However, we must be fair here and note that termites were here before we were. So, now it is a battle to the death between man vs insects!
Now I know that you just love those biting ants that love to creep up on your baseball bat that you left in the yard and wait for you to pick it up. So, let’s not mistake these lovely creatures with termites. So, how can you tell the difference between ants and termites?
Well first, there are a few things to note between the ant and termite reproductives. Termites go through a process known as gradual metamorphosis. In this, they will go through a typical insect cycle of egg, nymph and adult. We could sort of relate this to how humans go through babies, teenagers and adults. Termite nymphs, like teenagers, look like adults whereas the reproductives are darker bodied.
An ant, on the other hand, will start off as an egg, turn into a larvae, then a pupa and finally the adult stage. This is called a complete metamorphosis. To relate this to our human analogy, and to make it make a little more sense, we could say that we start as babies, turn into children, become teenagers and eventually make it to adulthood. The adult ants are not mistaken for other forms, if they look like an adult then they are.
Another mistake that can be made is the difference between the wings of the different species. They each have four wings, but termite wings are all the same size whereas ants will have two larger front wings and two smaller back ones. Also, if you notice a black dot on the wings, then it is an ant. Usually this dot can be found on the tip of the wings. You also might be able to note wing veins on ants, you won’t with termites. An additional note about termite wings is that they will easily fall off. So if you see a lot of leftover wings from a swarm of insects, then you probably have yourself a termite problem. Sorry bud.
There are a few other differences that you can note between termites and ants. The antennae of a termite are almost straight, whereas the one on an ant is elbowed or slightly curved. Also a termite’s wings are about twice as long as their bodies making them pretty distinguishable from ants. Also, if you notice the body of a termite is more bulky and wider, showing less of a segmented look. Ants tend to be more narrow and look segmented.