Ants and termites are very different creatures. Nevertheless, there are characteristics in their appearance and behavior that often make some people hesitate whether they have flying termites swarmers or only winged ants’.
Do All Termites Fly?
Termites live in colonies, which consist of species with different functions and, hence, slightly different appearance. The most numerous and frequently seen are worker species. They are quite small, eyeless and don’t have wings. Worker siblings forage for food, make tunnels in the soil or on the wood, repair entries, care for eggs and larvae and feed other casts.
Soldiers are a bit bigger; possess an enormously large head with massive jaws. Soldiers are wingless, can’t chew wood. Their duty is to defend the nest from predators.
Reproductives in the nest are a queen and a king. They used to have wings and could fly when they were young alates. Now they are taken care, fed by worker termites. Their only function is to mate and produce new members of the nest.
So, termites can fly, but this ability belongs exclusively to reproductives cast. This event occurs in warm, wet weather and always means the beginning of a new colony. In the wild, the alates become an easy prey to numerous termite-eating predators. Almost all “princes” and “princesses” die during a nuptial flight. But the survived species have a chance to become a king and a queen.
How do Flying Termites Look Like? Their Differences With Ants
Termite alates are nearly ½ inch, have a dark-colored body and long wings. But there are also ants, which live in the human house too and have practically the same characteristics. But if ants only mean irritation and nuisance, termites in house are always a serious problem. It is very important to compare these two pests to be sure, which of them we are dealing with. Without proper information, one may seem that winged termite and flying ant are very similar to each other. But significant clues will help even non-professionals to tell the difference between those two flying insects.
So, there are three main features that entomologists use to tell the difference in them:
– Wings. If you look at ants’ wings in an unfolded position, you will notice two pairs of differently sized flying tools, in which fore wings are longer than the hind ones. The wings just cover ants’ corpses. In a rest position, upper wings make bottom ones invisible. Termite alates have two pairs of equally long wings in a ready-to-fly position. They are twice as long as their corpses. Termites often drop their wings immediately after a flight. Ants sometimes remain with wings.
– Antennae. Ants’ antennae are rather long, but what is more significant, they are bent at an angle. Termites’ antennae are shorter and absolutely straight. They look like a chain of tiny beans.
– Body construction. Ants’ body consists of three distinctively see segments (head, thorax, and abdomen) with a well-visualized border between the least, which is characterized as a waist. Termites’ body has also three parts but without such a constructed feature. The two parts of their corpses do not have a thin border.
How to Get Rid of Flying Termites?
Once noticing flying termites, you can reduce the risk of further infestation. From this point of view, there is a range of measures against alates:
- bug zappers, which attract the insects with the light and kill them;
- hitting the termites;
- vacuuming them up;
- applying termiticides