Pest Prevention Tips & Advice

Can you Tell Ants and Termites Apart?

ants pest control melbourne

You probably know the feeling of dread when you see those tiny animals scurrying around on the ground. Are they ants or are they termites? The answer to the question is an important one.

Termites can destroy the wood in the structure of your homes, so you may urgently need termite protection. Although some ant types like carpenter ants do the same thing, you may need different pest control solutions. So, use this article to understand the differences.

What are the Main Differences Between Ants and Termites?

Ants and termites may look similar from a distance, but up close, they are very distinct. They have different body shapes, wings, antennae, and colours.

For example, ants have narrow waists, but termites don’t—instead, they have more square-shaped bodies.

Furthermore, carpenter ants have curly antennae, while the termites’ ones are straight.

Wing Differences?

Both carpenter ants and termites have wings at different stages of their life cycle. The termites lose theirs after they swarm, and the female carpenter ants lose theirs after they mate. If you look at their wings before they lose them, you’ll find that both species have four wings.

A termite’s wings will be equal in both size and shape, and they will be longer than their body. Their wings aren’t as durable as a carpenter ant and will fall off more easily. This means that you’ll see lost wings near termite nests.

A carpenter ant’s wings are not longer than its body, and its back wings will be shorter than at the front.

What is the Colour Difference?

Termites are paler than carpenter ants. Carpenter ants tend to be red or black, while worker termites can look pale, creamy-white or transparent. Swarmer termites, on the other hand, are dark brown or black.

Do they Behave Differently?

Termites and carpenter ants behave differently too. Carpenter ants look for food in plain sight. In fact, you often find trails of them in your house in the winter months picking up dropped food. Termites, however, remain hidden from light except when they’re swarming.

So, if you can see the little critter easily, it’s probably an ant.

They can also behave in similar ways. For example, both destroy wood. But termites eat the wood that they’re nested in, leading to quicker damage. In contrast, carpenter ants dig into the wood to create their nests and push the wood out. This means that you can see sawdust-like wood shavings near the exit of their nests, and this can help you identify them.

What’s more, carpenter ants look for moist and damaged wood, whereas termites seek dry, healthy wood. The way they eat wood makes it look bubbly or wrinkled.

Termites destroy wood very quickly, so regular termite inspections in your home are a must. Floors, skirting boards and door frames are popular hiding places for these pests.

However, termites are also drawn to moisture, such as leaky pipes, water tank overflow and pools, so fix anything that’s broken or restrict water access to your home.

Termites also create mud tubes in which to travel. If you look on the outside of walls, or between soil and wood, you’ll notice these little tunnels. Remember, they like to be protected and out of the light! These tunnels give them convenient passageways.

Do They Have Different Lifespans?

The female carpenter ant can live up to 10 years, while the female queen termite can live up to 30. Then, a male carpenter ant can live only weeks or months, while the termite workers can live for 1 or 2 years, and the swarmers, or reproductive termites, up to 3 or 4 years.

How do You Get Rid of Them?

Carpenter ants are easy to get rid of—simply eliminate the conditions that enabled them to thrive in the first place. Termites, however, will have you looking for pest control Melbourne locals often need to clear their properties of these critters

Need some help? Call Dawson’s Australia on 03 9222 2266 as soon as possible to help you with that pesky termite problem. Now you know why you can’t leave it for another day.


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