Termites and ants are the most common pests in the house. Hardly any housekeepers would like to have uncontrolled insects that provide so much trouble. Ants are easier to spot than termites thanks to their habit to organise trails. When we speak about termites we call them “silent destroyers” as it is almost impossible to see them. But it’s very useful to know the difference between the two insects as every of them demand specific approach to their elimination.
- 1 Termites vs ants, what do termites and ants look like?
- 2 How to determine ants and termites in the house?
- 3 Termites vs ants, who is more dangerous?
- 4 Termites vs ants, how to control them?
Termites vs ants, what do termites and ants look like?
First of all, you should know their appearance.
|Wings||Twice as long as termites themselves, two similar pairs||Shorter than ants’ bodies, lower pair is shorter than the upper one.|
|Body||A smooth body without distinct border between a head and the intestine, broad waist.||The thinnest part between the body parts is called thorax, definitely divided body.|
As for the colour, termites are mostly white, beige or transparent. With these characteristics they should defend themselves not only from other insects and animals, but also from the sun. Winged termites are a little “sun-tanned” as they have to perform their nuptial flight outside the nest.
Ants can be red, yellow, black and even white soon after moulting.
How to determine ants and termites in the house?
It is easy to notice most of ants’ species. These insects can shamelessly steal food in the daytime walking about the kitchen or impudently damage your garden plants. This is true for Pharaoh and Argentine Ants. But there are more dangerous enemies which lead night or even invisible life, gradually destroying the house construction. This behaviour is typical for termites and Carpenter ants. Though there are definite signs of the insects’ infestations:
- Dropped wings inside the house mean that nuptial flight has taken place and you have the colony of ants and/or termites. Outside discarded wings don’t necessarily point on the actual infestation. These might be some alates, blown into your yard from the neighbours. Even in this case you’d better inspect your house and garden for other signs.
- This indication is much more definite. Termites’ and ants’ droppings are usually seen in little piles near the wood walls or timber elements. Termites’ frass looks like tiny balls or large sand. Ants’ litter is similar to sawdust. Anyway, noticed in the house, this sign should be brought attention to, because piles of “sand” in tidy house look very strange.
- Any small damage with the walls – bubbles, scratching in the paint. These are termites’ and carpenter ants’ signatures. If you’d like to know exactly who may leave them, do the following.
- Take any metal item, for example, a screwdriver and check the wood on its hardness in various places. Hollow parts of it are already destroyed by termites or ants.
- Now take a look at the damaged wood. Termites’ holes and tunnels are muddy and lead alongside and against the wood grains. Ants’ pathways are only alongside and free of any dirt.
- Knock at the wood construction along the house perimeter by a screwdriver. The same hollow sound indicates empty spaces. Apply your ear to this place. Ants usually produce a specific rattling sound. Termites keep silence.
- Mud tubes. This is exclusively termites’ “visit card”. They are long narrow tunnels, connecting the ground and the wood. These way termites try to reach their favourite wood, if it is situated far above their habitual place.
Termites vs ants, who is more dangerous?
Unlike ants, termites have gained their ill fame with the only threat they cause – chewing out the dead wood construction, which are humans’ houses often built from. Being unnoticed for 7-10 years, a termites’ colony can eat out your house floor or roof beams. Annually they bring colossal damage to houses calculating in $7 milliards on renewing works. They also like furniture and even books. So the chair may seem sound and firm, but if you touch it, it will immediately turn into dust. Termites eat the wood leaving a thin layer of it to protect themselves from open air and the sun. In other problems termites aren’t on blame, neither in the germs spreading nor in biting or stinging.
Ants are little robbers
At the same time only one ant’ type is able to cause damage to the wood – Carpenter Ants. They don’t feed on it. They expose the material for creating a safe nest. All ants are foragers, which eat almost everything and invading your home in organised columns. They wander about the kitchen, rushing between a disposal and countertops or a dinner table. Undoubtedly they carry various bacteria dangerous for people. Ants cause elementary irritation and anger among people who see them inside. Ants provide discomfort and threat to people’s health. Ants’ bites are rather painful, unpleasant and may cause allergic reaction among some of us. But it should be mentioned that only Red (Fire) Ants are famous for their stings. Other types of these insects do it only occasionally, in case of danger, when they are disturbed or scared.
Termites do not look the same
Termites are oftentimes called “white ants”, but these insects look and behave differently. Besides, termites are mot homogeneous either. Those ones, which prefer underground life, are subterranean termites. They like warmth, moisture and rotted or damp wood. They attack our houses from the foundation. If the wood doesn’t touch the ground, they build muddy tunnels reaching the desired treat with their utmost.
Drywood termites are expected to live in clear dead wood with minimum moisture. They infest houses from the roof, cracks in wood construction.
Ants are presented with greater variety. So there are the smallest Pharaoh Ants that settle in people’s houses and different kinds of outside ants – Argentine “robbers” who make their nests mostly outside, but intrude the houses in long organised trails for food only. Carpenter ants have similar habits with termites. They also are able to make damage to the wooden houses, but do it exclusively in the process of enlarging their mounds.
Tastes are different
Home ants are irritating because of many reasons:
- They can bite
- They carry dangerous germs
- They damage home plants and food
- Only one type of ants can destroy wood
As for termites, they are unpleasant for only one big reason – they are big wood lovers like wood roaches. What is more, termites can eat out furniture and books. As you see, everything that contains cellulose. Ants are omnivorous – sweets, meat, grease – everything will suit them. And of course ants strongly depend on water.
Termites’ and ants’ castes
Termites do not look the same even within one type. You can see winged termites as well as wingless ones, with big mandibles and without them. Why are they so different?
Winged termites are reproductive species of both sexes that leave the nest once or twice a year to start a new colony. Immediately after mating both a female and a male dig out a hole or find a crack in the wood construction and soon become parents.
They take care after the first rafting, which are always worker termites. When the latter grow up, they take all responsibilities upon the following generations. The queen and the king remain in their chambers. After some layings there appear first soldiers, defenders with big heads and massive jaws. Small soldiers become guards of the royalty. Large soldiers’ mission is to defend the colony from outside enemies, mostly ants.
Ants also have alates – flying representatives, but males die after mating with future queens. She alone brings up first generations of workers. There are no soldiers among ants. Workers perform all defensive tasks.
Both in termites’ and ants’ colonies workers feed other members of their nests, including the youngsters – eggs, larvae and pupae.
This information is very important as it helps to understand the main principle of their effective extermination. The targets are queens, sometimes the kings and most of larvae. Generally speaking, those are vitally important castes that rarely or never leave the nest but supply the colony with endurable species of insects. There are also underwater stones – very often the insects ensure their colony with several queens or reproductive species that can substitute the royalty. The other difficulty is their quantity. The housekeeper should be very patient and persistent. The best remedies are those, which don’t act at once. Time allows workers to bring the poisoned treat inside the nest or consume it. Then termites share the part of eaten food with soldiers, queens, king and others, contaminating them also. Ants’ workers just bring the food and other ants eat it.
Termites vs ants, how to control them?
It is highly recommended that any housekeeper who has faced the pests problem should lead the war in three directions: to kill and to protect. Have to read the article:
How to get rid of ants in your home, special and natural remedies, ants traps.
The killer group of treatments may include the following brands:
- Premise Foam Termiticide, termite Spray. It is injected into hollow wood spaces and galleries made by termites and carpenter ants as well.
- Taurus SC with 9.1 % Fipronil is a complex non-repellent treatment against termites and all kinds of ants. With the help of this suspension it is possible to get rid of termites within 3 months and ants in 3 weeks.
- TERRO Liquid Ant Bait contains the substance that attracts ants, encourages them to carry it into the nest, therefore, contaminating the others. As a result the whole colony is eliminated.
- The protective group contains repellent treatments:
- Termidor Suspended Concentrate is an outdoor product, which will help you to protect your house from termites and ants for 10 years. The suspense consists of the active ingredients, which kill the pests at once. For high effect it is necessary to create untorn defence around the house. Only in this case the insects won’t break into it.
- Talstar Pro is a widely-purpose solution to eliminate and control different kinds of pests.