Termites and ants are very similar insects. Both species live in colonies with caste systems and one queen responsible for reproduction. However, the two species also differ in a lot of ways. In this article, we’re going to cover these differences.
Despite the two species being very similar in behavior and even appearance, they actually belong to two different insect families, with termites being more closely related to cockroaches than they are to ants.
All termites survive on a diet that consists exclusively of cellulose, while ants will eat protein, sugars and fats. Even ants that build their colonies inside wood, such as the carpenter ants, will not actually eat the wood, and will leave the colony periodically to forage for appropriate food.
The soldier caste
Most ant species do not have a soldier caste, while termites do. What’s interesting is that ants are actually partly responsible for the existence of this caste in termite colonies, because ants prey on termites, often invading their colonies, and eating the workers.
Termites and ants will mostly use swarmers, or winged reproductives, to start new colonies. However, some ant species will have multiple queens in a single colony, and when they need to start a satellite or a new nest, one of the queens will be carried to a new location by a group of workers.
There are also some major differences when it comes to how these two species are controlled. While direct application insecticides and baits can be used against most ant infestations, they are only effective against termites in certain situations. For example, small drywood and dampwood termite infestations can be treated by applying insecticides directly into the infested wood, but when these infestations get larger, fumigation will be needed to eliminate all the termites in the home. Similarly, subterranean termite colonies can be destroyed using baits, but chemical barriers are the preferred treatment method, because they stop an infestation right away, while baits take a few months to destroy the whole colony.
What to do if you have a termite or an ant infestation
Ant infestations should be taken seriously, because you may run in a few dangerous species that can pose a threat to your home and to yourself. Contact us today if you have an infestation that needs to be removed and we will schedule a pest control appointment.