Flying Ants vs. Termites – Differences?

Both flying ants and termites can wreak havoc in our indoor and outdoor spaces. They appear as swarms of flying insects especially at night. Flying Ants vs. Termites Their close resemblance and behavior makes it difficult to differentiate.

However, a closer look at the two insects shows that they exhibit distinct features which can be used to differentiate them – flying ants vs termites

In order to effectively eradicate flying ants and termites, it’s important to know which of the insects you’re dealing with. In this guide you’ll get to know the differences between the two insects.

How to Differentiate Flying Ants and Termites

1. Appearance

Flying ants and termites appear to look alike from an outward perspective. But a closer look will portray some notable differences in their physical appearance. 

A microscope or a magnifying glass can be used to give a better view. Three of the most important distinguishing features include:

Body

Flying ants: Flying ants have a broad body with a thin waist. Thus, you can differentiate between the abdomen and thorax. The color of the body ranges for reddish brown, brown to black.

Termites: Termites have a straight body and a broad waist. That means you can’t distinguish between the abdomen and thorax. Their body can either be dark brown or black.

Wings

Flying ants: They have two pairs of wings – one in front and the other at the back. Notably, the front wings are longer than the back wings.

Termites: Termites also have two pairs of wings. However, both pairs of wings are of equal length.

Antennae

Flying ants: Flying ants have elbowed antennae.

Termites: Termites have straight antennae.

Check some of these Homemade Fruit Fly Traps

2. Behavior

Flying ants: Flying ants live amongst other members of a colony and play the role of finding and creating new colonies. They are often known as swarmers because of their ability to fly unlike other members of the colony.

They swarm during the summer to create new colonies. Once a new colony is set up, flying ants will pluck off their wings since they aren’t needed anymore. They usually leave their wings on windowsills. After mating, male ants will die leaving the females to lay eggs and increase the colony.

Termites: Termites also live in colonies consisting of reproductive termites, workers and the soldiers. Mating occurs during spring. However, unlike ants male termites do not die after mating. Both the males and females lose their wings and continue expanding the new colony.

The discarded wings can be seen scattered on surfaces especially the floor.

3. Diet

Flying Ants: Flying ants are omnivorous insects and their diet mainly consists of food debris and nectar. They also feed on other small insects. The worker ants do the work of bringing food for the rest of the colony.

Termites: A termite’s diet mainly consists of cellulose which they obtain from wood and dead plants. Food is brought to the colony by the worker termites. Thus, these are some of the insects that do lot of damage to your property.

4. Life Cycle

Flying ants: Ants undergo a complete metamorphosis. The queen ant lays eggs which undergo the larvae, pupae and adult stage. The queen lives for many years while the workers and soldiers die after a few months.

Termites: Termites undergo the egg, larvae or nymph and adult lifecycle. The queen and reproductive females can live up to 25 years. However, the soldiers and workers live for 10 to 14 months.

5. Habitat

Flying ants: Flying ants are basically outdoor insects usually thriving in warm and wet conditions. You’re likely to see them flying around your garden and near sources of light such as near the door and window. They only come indoors in search food such as food debris.

Termites: Termites usually venture in indoor spaces especially in hidden cavities in the house foundations and wooden materials among other places. So if you see damages on your wooden materials, this could be the work of termites.

5. Threat/Damage

Flying ants: Since their diet mainly entails food debris and nectar, flying ants will not damage your plants, flowers or wooden surfaces. Their only problem is that they mess your home with their wings and dead bodies. Plus some species can sting when provoked.

Termites: Termites pose the biggest threat to your property especially wooden materials. They dig holes into wooden materials as they extract cellulose for their food.

How to Get Rid of Flying Ants

Although flying ants do not destroy your property, they’re often very annoying and scary to have around your home. They not only come into the house but also make you home very untidy.

Luckily, you can effectively eradicate flying ants using both commercial and do-it-yourself home remedies. Below is a brief outline of some effective methods for eradicating and preventing flying ants.

1. House Tidiness

Cleaning your house and getting rid of food debris deprives flying ants of something to eat. Ensure that all left overs are thrown away and all food is kept in closed containers.

2. Use Insecticides

Commercial insecticides such as aerosols and poison baits can be used to kill flying ants. In the case of aerosols, get a product that kills ants instantly and continues to kill ants that come into contact with the treated surfaces.

Use slow-acting poison baits so that ants can take back the poison to the rest of the colony. This gives you the possibility of eradicating an entire ant colony.

3. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

DE can provide an effective remedy for flying ants if used around common sources of food. DE kills works by breaking through the insect’s exoskeleton and dehydrating it to death.

Sprinkle a thin layer of DE around common entry points and feeding locations. As the insects come into contact with DE, the sharp microscopic granules will pierce through their hard outer shell and cause dehydration.

4. Homemade Solutions

If you don’t want to use chemicals in your home, you can embark on one or more homemade solutions. Make a solution using peppermint essential oil, dish soap and water. Use a spray bottle to apply the solution on the flying ants. This solution works by suffocation and dehydration.

This method works effectively when you spray directly on the insects.

5. Bug zappers

Bug zappers can be placed inside the house and around the compound. Ants will be attracted to the light and obviously be killed by the electric shock.

How to Get Rid of Termites

Termites are worse than flying ants. When termites raid your home, they can create the worst damage you can imagine. Their appetite for cellulose results to unimaginable damage on wooden materials including furniture, roofing frames, attics, ceiling boards and so on.

Measures for eradicating termites should entail both prevention and treatment procedures to avoid damages to your property. Below are some important treatment and prevention interventions for termites. 

1. Home Maintenance

Before using any chemical or homemade products to kill termites, ensure your home is completely unattractive to them. This can be done by clearing any clutter that may provide possible avenues for them build foraging or mud tubes.

Wood, timber or paper piles that are near the house’s foundation provide good avenues for termites for build colonies and access your house. Logs, wood and timber should be kept in designated areas away from house foundations. Plus stumps in the garden should be uprooted. 

2. Chemical Treatments

Chemical treatments such as termite sprays will give you the best solution for your termite menace. These include some of the most effective termite killers

They contain powerful active ingredients which not only kill termites instantly but also continue to kill termites that come back to the treated area.

3. Termite Baits

Termite baits are chunks of food materials that lure termites to eat poison. They are meant to kill slowly so as to allow the worker termites to take the poisoned bait back to the colony.

Poisoned baits therefore provide an effective way of eradicating a whole termite colony.

4. Nematodes

Deploying beneficial nematodes around a termite colony will effectively get rid of these pesky insects. Nematodes work by releasing a toxic bacteria inside the insects’ digestive system thus killing them. 

Termites are hard to spot whenever they invade our home. A single treatment won’t be effective since termites create new colonies in a short time. Therefore, it is important to have a scheduled termite inspection routine so as to detect and dismantle any termite development – through fumigation

5. Diatomaceous Earth

DE contains microscopic particles which are able to break through a termite’s body. The desiccating effect from DE kills the insect through dehydration – this is one of the natural termite control methods

Spread a thin layer of a food grade DE on areas most frequented by termites such as along house foundation, wood piles and other wooden materials.

Conclusion

Both flying ants and termite are quite unwelcome in our houses. Flying ants will mess your home without causing any significant damage. However, termites are dreadful because of their ability to destroy wooden materials.

If you’re not sure which type pest you’re dealing with, it’s important to do proper identification to avoid using the wrong pest eradication method. With this guide, it will be quite easy to differentiate a flying ant from a termite. 

Sources: 

  1. Ant vs Termite 
  2. Ant vs Termite | University of Maryland Extension

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