Both an ant and a termite infestation can be bad news for your home. They cause millions of dollars in damages to properties each year. It is therefore important to tell the difference between an ant and termite infestation in order to respond appropriately to the problem. This article will explore the differences between ant and termite swarm infestations.
The Difference between an Ant and a Termite
During the reproductive stage, both ants and termites have wings making it difficult to tell the difference between them. There are however several differences that emerge in their wings, antennae, and body structure. Flying ants have a distinctively larger front pair of wings, with the 2nd pair being smaller and shorter. Termites have both their pairs of wings being of the same size, but longer than an ant’s.
The antennae of a termite are mostly straight while a flying ant’s antennae are bent. In addition, ants have a distinctively segmented body with a very thin waist, while the termite’s body is almost uniform in its entire length.
Differences between Ant and Termite Infestations
The presence of termite swarms within your house is a strong indicator of a termite infestation. Termites often establish new colonies from an old one by separating from the previous colony in large numbers of termite swarms. You can often spot termite swarms near sources of light such as bulbs and porch lights, or their bodies below window frames.
Because of their need for constant moisture, termites create tubes of mud and feces which they will use to stay hydrated and to get to their food source (wood). Spotting these mud tubes within your home is a sign of an infestation. You can break open these tubes to reveal the presence of termites inside, and if the tubes are quickly rebuilt, then that shows that the termites are present and active.
Damage to Wood
Termites eat through wood, causing it to become hollow. They also bring a lot of dirt and debris into the structure. Because they are constantly in search of food and moisture, they can cause total damage to the wood, leaving behind only grains. They can also be difficult to spot because they can hide within the walls of a home and operate from the inside.
Presence of Sawdust
Ants (particularly carpenter ants) can burrow through moist wood, creating a hole in it and leaving those wood shavings as waste. Sings of those wood shavings that appear as sawdust can point towards an ant infestation. You can occasionally spot piles of wood shavings (which look like pencil sharpening) underneath your wooden items. In addition, if you notice large winged ants coming out of crevices such as ceilings or walls, then you most likely have an infestation.
Damage to wood
Ants, as opposed to termites, do not actually eat wood. They simply burrow through the surface in order to make their nests. The kind of damage that they have on your wooden furniture is many small rectangular holes which lead to tunnels deep within. These holes are often smooth and polished on the inside, while termite swarm holes are filled with soil and mud.
Impact of Termite Swarms
In the overall picture, termite swarms and infestations are often more severe because they can take a long time to be noticed. Termites can also cause complete damage to wood as they fulfill their nutritional requirements. Ant infestations that go unnoticed for many years can also cause significant damage to wooden structures.