The Difference Between Ants & Termites

Ants and termites can at times, look very similar to one another. As a result, many homeowners panic when they find a tiny winged creature in their home. The best thing to do to protect your home from either of these invaders is to have termite protection from a reputable pest management company.

According to the University of Florida’s IFAS Entomology division, winged ants and termites are referred to by entomologists as alates. The alate is the adult in the ant or termite life cycle. Alates develop in the colony from immature stages prior to the flight season. When the alates receive the proper cues, which include warm temperatures, bright sunlight and low winds, they will leave the colony and fly away to start their own colonies. The exodus of alates from a colony is commonly referred to as swarming, so alates are often referred to as swarmers. Male and female termites will shed their wings and will pair up when a suitable mate is found. Then they will search for a damp piece of wood or soil where they will start their new colony. Swarming in ants is completely different. Male and female alates leave the nest after the female is inseminated, and the male dies. The newly fertilized female then searches for a suitable nesting site.

Of course when you see this tiny pest in your home, you certainly can’t tell if it’s a termite or an ant with the facts above. But there are three characteristics that do allow you to tell the difference:

Ant Alate

  1. Elbowed Antennae
  2. Fore Wings larger than Hind Wings
  3. Constricted Waist

Termite Alate

  1. Beaded Antennae
  2. Fore and Hind Wings of equal size
  3. Broad Waist

However, it is best to call a professional pest management company for a professional identification of the pest and a complete inspection.