Flying Ants vs Termites
Identifying flying ants vs termites will help you decide whether you should contact a pest control service for a termite inspection. Seeing swarms of termites around the outside of your house is one of the definitive signs that your home has been invaded by these wood devouring pests. Termites are typically very reclusive, and homeowners may not be aware of an infestation until damage to the home has already begun. Catching sight of winged pests when they’re flying may be your first indication that your property has been colonized.
Many homeowners who have pest control bond agreements mistake flying termites for winged ants, which are similar in size and behavior. Ants also have a swarming season, which is linked to their reproductive cycle. Carpenter ants, like termite species, can damage the wood inside a home. However, the damage done by ants is generally not as widespread or destructive as termite damage, and ants are less likely to colonize a residence. Carpenter ants do not actually devour wood; they simply hollow out the wood in order to build nests.
Comparing Flying Ants vs Termites
Once you’ve learned how to tell the difference between flying ants vs termites, you’ll be more confident about your decision to contact a pest control service. Specific characteristics of flying ants vs termites will help you determine which type of insect has invaded your home. In their winged state, both types of flying insects are known as alates, a word that comes from the Latin term for “wing”.
One way to distinguish flying ants vs termites is to examine the insect’s body. An ant alate has a narrow waist that is visibly smaller than the other segments of its body. A termite alate does not have a noticeable waist; instead, its entire body looks like a continuous segment. The antennae of an ant are hinged, like an elbow, while the antennae of a termite are straight and beaded.
Finally, when you’re comparing flying ants vs termites, you’ll notice that the 4 wings of flying termites are all the same length. The front wings of an ant are longer than its hind wings. Both types of flying insects can form large, visible swarms around your home, especially during the warmer months of the year. You are most likely to see them at night around the lighted areas of your home, like porches or windows. You may also see piles of wings in or around the house, which the alates have discarded.
Significance of Alates
Winged termites play a specific role in the evolution of colonies. These alates are reproductive members of the colony, whose job is to leave the colony to find a mate so that a new colony can be formed. When you’re comparing flying ants vs termites, keep in mind that you are most likely to see reproductive termites, also known as swarmers, in April or May, when the weather gets warm. In colder climates, the swarming season may be later in the spring.
When you see flying insects gathering in large swarms around your home, look for other signs that your house has been invaded by wood devouring pests. Subterranean species build mud tunnels leading from their underground colonies to the house. These thin, irregular mud tubes protect the worker members of the colony from heat and light as they’re making their way from their underground habitat into your house. You may also notice tiny holes in wooden baseboards, wall paneling or cabinets.
These small openings, known as kick out holes, are created by dry wood species when they push their droppings through the wood. You will also find the droppings themselves, which resemble sawdust, lying in tiny piles on the floor. If the pests have already begun to consume the wood, you can hear a hollow sound when you tap on a beam or post inside your house. Dry wood species hollow out wooden structures from the inside, while subterranean species hollow out the grain on the surface of a beam or panel.
When you see visible signs of a potential infestation, contact a pest control service to schedule an inspection. If you have any concerns about whether you can tell the difference between flying ants vs termites, a professional inspector can give you a final confirmation. Pest control inspectors are licensed by the state where you live to evaluate buildings for signs of infestation by wood devouring insects.
Distinguishing between flying ants vs termites can put you ahead of the game when it comes to identifying wood devouring pests. Because these insects are both fairly small, it’s easy to mistake them when you’re surrounded by a large swarm. If you can study one of these alates in isolation, you’ll notice distinct differences that can alert you to the possible presence of wood devouring pests on your property.