How To Spot The Difference Between Termites And Ants

As a homeowner, you must ensure that your house is free from all pests. You wouldn’t want ants crawling on your food or termites damaging your property’s structural integrity. Termites and ants look similar and share some common characteristics.

Both are tiny creatures living in colonies, damaging wood, and building nests. However, one species is more destructive than the other. 

Most people would say termites and ants look alike, even if they have distinct differences. You’d naturally assume they are ants if you see small, ant-like creatures inside your home. However, termites may already be eating your house out from within the walls. 

As termites spread, you might also find infestations cropping up in previously untouched houses. We put together a quick and easy guide to spotting the difference between ants and termites to help protect your home.

What Are Termites?

Termites are tiny, pale insects that outwardly resemble ants. The Reticulitermes flavipes species, or eastern subterranean termite, causes significant damage to US properties. They are the most economically significant wood-destroying insects that require a call from extermination industries.  

These insects feed on cellulose, an essential substance that mainly composes plants’ cell walls. Cellulose naturally occurs in fibrous products and is several manufactured goods’ raw materials, such as books, cotton, paper, rayon, wooden fixtures, and buildings’ structural woods. 

Large termite colonies can hold millions of individuals and can cause a home’s structural support to collapse entirely with time.

What Are Ants?

While termites can collaterally damage your home, ants are simple nuisances. 

Ants are similar to bees and wasps, belonging to the order Hymenoptera. While they are smaller than the insects in those groups and typically lack wings (except when swarming), almost all ants can bite or sting. 

The Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA), or fire ants, can diminish property values and cause severe or sometimes fatal attacks on humans and pets. They nest in your yard and will attack anyone who approaches their home. Their stings are unpleasant and can pose a health hazard in rare cases. 

The ants crawling around your home usually will only look for a few food crumbs and won’t harm you. They love the sweet or savory food bits on counters, floors, and sinks and typically nest outside your walls. However, their numbers can quickly grow and become a nuisance that requires pest control.

Winged Ants vs. Winged Termites: What’s the Difference?

Body shape and segments can help determine the difference between ants and termites. Ants have three well-defined body segments, while termites have less distinct body segments. The former has a smaller “waist” than the latter. 

Antennae structure can also set them apart. Ants have crooked antennae in the middle, while termites’ antennae are straight. 

Checking for Termites

As termites continue to feed out of sight, they can cause irreversible damage to your home. While termite colony-infested homes may usually appear structurally sound from the inside, the insides will gain a honeycombed appearance due to the termites. 

Tests can quickly determine if your home has termite damage or not. However, one of the clear signs of a termite infestation is the insects’ occasional individual presence on floors or walls.

Sealing your home’s foundation and creating a barrier between soil and house can prevent termites. On the other hand, regular cleaning and storing food properly can deter ants from entering your home.

A termite inspection can also help you spot and attack the early signs of an infestation.

Keeping Out Unwanted Guests

While ants and termites may look similar to most homeowners, properly determining their differences can save your home from collateral damage. 

Whether you need an ant or termite inspection in Bakersfield or Fresno, RidX Pest Control can protect your business or home against all types of pests. Contact us now to get a free estimate.