Termites And Ants: What You Need To Know


Imagine yourself moving a bookcase away from a wall and seeing a pile of sawdust on the floor, along with some winged insects. Are they flying ants or termites? If there is no apparent damage, you might be tempted to simply sweep or vacuum them up and forget about it. If you have either a carpenter ant or a termite problem, however, ignoring it and hoping it will go away is probably the worst thing you can do! Here are some tips on determining whether you have a termite or ant infestation, as well as information on how each type of infestation should be treated.

How to Tell the Difference Between Termites and Ants

There are three main differences that you, as someone who is not an etymologist, are likely to be able to discern when you look at your winged invaders.

  1. Wings. Both termites and flying ants have four wings. You'll notice that two are in front; these are the forewings. The two further back are called the hindwings. In termites, the forewings and the hindwings are the same size. In flying ants, however, the forewings are larger.
  2. Antennae. While all insects have antennae, those of termites and ants differ. Ants' antennae are bent, sometimes at as much as a 90 degree angle. Termites' antennae, however, might be curved or more straight. If you look closely, you'll notice that they look as though they are made of tiny beads. Ant antennae are more smooth, though they might look like they have one bead at the end.
  3. Body shape. An ant has a tapered waist, like a wasp. Termites are more broad and have bodies that are roughly the same thickness from end to end. If the insect you are looking at has an hourglass figure or looks like it's wearing a corset, it's an ant.

Now that you've determined which type of insect you are dealing with, it's time to figure out what to do about it!

Treating Ants or Termites

If you have insects in your home but you think they are coming from damaged wood outside the home, such as a decaying tree, it is beneficial to have the outside wood removed. If the ants or termites were just passing through, they might simply leave, because their source of food has been taken away. This makes sense as a first step if you see just a few insects of either type and you can't find any evidence of infestation, such as sawdust or piles of wings in a corner or along the edge of a wall.

If you do see sawdust or a pile of wings, you most likely need to call in a pest control service. This professional will be able to narrow down the species of ant or termite you likely have based on your location and any specimens that you can capture to show him or her.

Both ants and subterranean termites can be treated with species-appropriate bait, traps and monitoring in most cases. Sometimes damaged wood needs to be replaced, as this can be their feeding and mating grounds. If you have drywood termites, you may need to have your house tented. Tenting is appropriate for heavy drywood termite infestations, but not for small infestations or for carpenter ants. You can consult this chart to find out more about how two common types of termites can be prevented and treated.

Don't panic if you see wings, sawdust or live insects, but don't put off contacting a professional, either. Left to their own devices, termites can cause major structural damage to a home in a matter of months and can create massive destruction in just a couple of years. Try to get a specimen of any insect you do find and call a pest control company to help you get this problem under control.


17 June 2015

Protecting Your Family With Pest Control

How often do you double check your front door or make sure that your garage door is closed? Although installing a home security system and giving your children instructions about stranger danger might seem like second nature, some people forget that there are real safety threats sitting around their windowsills. My child was bitten by a poisonous spider a few years ago, and ever since then, I have worked to increase awareness about the importance of pest control. A little pesticide can keep dangerous bugs from seeking refuge in your home and threatening your family. My website discusses different ways to keep your kids safe.