Do termites look like ants
- Think you have termites in your home?
- What do termites look like?
- Why is identification so difficult?
- What are the types of termites?
- Identifying termite species
- Termites with wings
- Control and prevention of termites after identification
- Identifying termites from their damage
- What Do Termites Look Like?
- Differences in Species
- Differences in Castes
- Identifying Termites by their Habitats
- Identifying Damage
- Professional Identification
- What Do Termites Look Like?
- How to Recognize these Pests and the Damage they Cause
- Termites or Ants?
- Eastern Subterranean Termites
- Formosan Termites
- Drywood Termites
- Eastern Winged Termites
- Formosian Winged Termites
- Termite Queens
- Termite Damage
- Termite Prevention, Mitigation, and Control
Termites are very small and similar in size to ants, which often leads to confusion. There are also several different types of termites, which can make figuring out which control method to use challenging. In fact, knowing the key differences between ants and termites is a good starting point for identification. Knowing the types of termites you’re dealing with is the next key factor for professionals to determine.
Owing to their secretive nature, termites can be hard to detect, especially with an untrained eye. You are far more likely to spot the signs of termite damage before you spot termites themselves.
There are different types of termites, but there are some very destructive species that like warm, moist, areas. So, cities and areas like Miami, Atlanta, and Charleston can be affected by these species of termite.
As with any other pest, correct identification ensures the use of the most effective control methods and allows you to choose the most appropriate prevention steps to try and avoid problems in the future. You can discuss options such as chemical barriers or other methods to keep termites away.
Need help identifying termites? Call Ehrlich today at 1-800-837-5520 for advice and to schedule a FREE termite inspection of your home or business.
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What do termites look like?
Do termites really look like ants? Termite swarmers can look like flying ants, and they are often confused.
The difference between these two pests will greatly impact the type of service needed to control them in your property.
Often a suspected problem with termites, turns out to be a problem with carpenter ants or fire ants, because they look so similar.
Here’s how to establish the general differences in appearance and behavior between ants and termites:
Waist – Termites have a straight waist, while ants have a pinched waist.
Antennae – Termites have straight antennae while ants have bent antennae.
Wing Length – Termites wings are the same length while ants have wings of different length.
Look for discarded wings around window sills – Flying termites (also known as swarmers) are often confused with flying ants, because both their winged mating cycles occur during the springtime. However, flying ants do not shed their wings. If you have seen these flying insects in your property, you can be fairly certain you have identified termites if you’ve also found discarded wings.
Look for differences in body shape – The image below should help you identify important differences in body shape of termites and winged ants (termite is on the right, ant on the left):
Have you spotted termites in your home or workplace? As these insects are highly destructive, you should get professional advice and termite control from Ehrlich right away. Our termite control specialists know how to spot termite eggs, larvae and which types of termites might be causing the damage.
Why is identification so difficult?
Even armed with the above information, it may still be hard to make a correct identification using the naked eye. Bear in mind that termite swarmers are only about ¼ inch long – about the same size as a pencil eraser.
Identification is made even more difficult by the fact that termites often remain hidden away in properties for years without the owner’s knowledge. As already mentioned, the first indicator of a potential problem is usually visible evidence of termite damage.
Ehrlich’s termite species guide offers greater detail on what termites look like and how to recognize the common features between termite species.
What are the types of termites?
What kind of termites are you seeing in your home? Click here to find out.
Identifying termite species
All types of termites can cause damage to your home, but knowing a bit more about the different species of termites can help identify them more easily. Depending on where you are in the country can also determine the types of termites you may have to contend with.
The location of your property as well as its component structure will both have an impact on the termite species, which you may be at risk of.
Generally speaking, incidence of termite infestation is much higher in the southeastern states, such as Florida, and the west coast states, such as California, and gradually decreases the further north you travel in the country.
Here are some of the most common termite species found in the U.S. Subterranean termites are one of the most common species found throughout the U.S.
The top 3 most invasive species of this type, include the Eastern subterranean, Western subterranean and the Formosan subterranean termites.
Eastern subterranean termites are the most prevalent and can be found on the east coast in states like Georgia and as far west as Utah. Western subterranean termites are mostly found along the west coast and inland through to Nevada.
Formosan termites – are a particularly serious type of subterranean termite, but are not as common. Formosan subterranean termites are found primarily in Louisiana, Mississippi, along the Gulf coast.
Drywood termites – can also be found in the US, sometimes nearer to the coast although they don’t need moisture to survive. They are prevalent along the gulf coast as well as on the west coast in California.
Dampwood termites – live in damp and rotting wood and mulch, and can often be found near open water. They can enter your home through wood that meets damp soil.
Termites with wings
The primary function of termites with wings, or swarmers, is to reproduce and generate new colonies. They have two wing pairs, and the presence of these insects indoors signifies that a building is likely infested. Flying termites can commonly be found swarming around window sills or exterior lighting because light attracts them.
These insects will turn into the queens and kings of new colonies. Termites with wings depart from their nests and fly when the conditions are appropriate. The males and females will swarm together in the air. After they land, the swarmers will shed their wings, mate, and start new colonies.
Control and prevention of termites after identification
Once correct identification is made, the most effective solution plan can be offered to quickly bring the problem under control. Ehrlich offers conventional termite treatment which uses liquid termiticide treatment and other methods include the use of monitoring and baiting systems.
Identifying termites from their damage
At Ehrlich, we confirm the invading termite species through a visual identification rather than just looking at the evidence of the damage to your building and its location.
However, some of the points below could be of help to you, when checking your building for signs of activity:
Subterranean termites begin their feeding process (damage) from the ground up and typically enter a building through the sub-structure. Homes with crawl spaces are at great risk. It is here you should look for evidence of damaged wood and mud tubes. Wood damaged by this particular species develops “galleries” (hollow tunnels), which run along the grain of the wood.
Drywood termites typically enter structures near the roof line or other exposed wood to begin building a colony. Inspect your attic for evidence of damaged wood. Look for tiny holes in the wood with evidence of frass collecting nearby. Probing the wood can also expose galleries as well.
Having experienced a termite infestation, most people will be eager to ensure they do not have the same problem in the future. Ehrlich can give you simple steps you can take to “termite-proof” your home or business and the prevention plans can offer further help.
If you suspect you have termites, call us today at 1-800-837-5520 or contact us online to arrange a FREE termite inspection for your home or business.
What Do Termites Look Like?
There are over 40 species of termites in the United States alone. Although they have distinct characteristics, most look similar.
- Size & Length: they typically measure between 1/4 and 1/2 of an inch long.
- Body: The pests have soft bodies and straight antennae.
- Color: Colors range from white to light brown in color. Worker termites often appear lighter, while swarming termites are darker.
Differences in Species
There are variations in size and color between termite species. For example, western subterranean termite soldiers have yellowish heads, while western drywood termite soldiers have reddish brown heads. Dampwood and drywood termites tend to be larger than subterranean termites.
Differences in Castes
Termites have three different castes, each of which performs different roles within the colony. Each caste has unique physical features to help it fulfill its role in the colony.
Even within the same species, termites that belong to different castes can look very different.
Workers Worker termites tend to be lighter in color. Workers are the smallest of the castes. In general, workers and nymphs are soft-bodied and look like larvae.
Soldiers tend to have worker-like bodies, but with hard heads that are often dark in color and have large jaws. Soldier termites have soft bodies with hard, enlarged heads and large jaws (mandibles) that help them protect the colony. Fully mature, reproductive termites have wings and hard bodies that prepare them for leaving the nest to start new colonies.
Alates Or Flying Termites
Alates (swarmers) have wings and hard exoskeletons that may be very dark in color. Additionally, flying and swarming termites can be recognized by their prominent wings. Flying termites have two sets of wings of equal length, and these wings are almost twice the size of the termite’s body. Termite swarmers appear to have two body segments with a straight abdomen, and straight antennae.
Subterranean Worker and Soldier
Termite Look Alikes
Some homeowners may confuse flying ants and flying termites. Pest control experts are trained to distinguish between these two insects based on differences in their appearance.
Can You See Termites with the Human Eye?
While the pests are small, termites are visible with the human eye. Winged termites, or swarmers, are somewhat larger than workers and can be more easily spotted. This is helpful since homeowners are most likely to encounter swarmers, which take flight during mating season to look for new nesting sites.
Identifying Termites by their Habitats
Knowing where termites live helps homeowners identify infestations.
Dampwood termites, for example, are found in areas with moist climates; however, these termites can be found in areas of the home where water leaks occur. They typically set up colonies in damp basements or bathrooms.
Nevada Dampwood Soldier
On the other hand, drywood termites are found in dry environments of the coastal, southeastern and southwestern portions of the U.S. Drywood termites typically live in undamaged, dry wood of houses and apartments.
Drywood Termite Worker
Since the pests eat cellulose found in wood, termites destroy, walls, furniture, and other wooden materials in homes. The damage they do may appear in the form of sagging floors and ceilings or infested wood might look water damaged. Additionally, homeowners may find piles of sawdust, mud tubes or the shed wings of swarmers.
While you should regularly monitor for pest activity, you should contact a trained professional for termite identification, prevention and treatment. Pest control experts can distinguish between termites and other insects, and identify termites by species to make sure prevention and treatment techniques target that specific species- unique behavior.
What Do Termites Look Like?
How to Recognize these Pests and the Damage they Cause
Animals & Nature
Most of the 2,200 or so species of termites live in the tropics and have been munching away on wood for more than 250 million years—long before human being began building their homes with lumber.
Termites recycle wood products into the soil by feeding on cellulose—the main cell wall component of plants—and breaking it down. Most termite damage is caused by subterranean (underground) termites, members of the family Rhinotermitidae. Among these ground-dwelling termites, the most common structural pests are the eastern, western, and Formosan subterranean termites, who will happily eat the framing of your house starting at the bottom, where moisture has made the wood soft and working their way up.
Other termites that cause structural damage include the drywood termites (Kalotermitidae) and the damp-wood termites (Termopsidae). Drywood termites enter at the roofline, while damp-wood termites prefer basements, bathrooms, and other locations where water leaks are likely to occur. If you suspect you have a termite problem, your first step is to confirm that the pests are, indeed, termites. So what do termites look like?
Termites or Ants?
Winged ants look quite similar to termites and as a result, quite a few people confuse the two. Here’s how to tell them apart:
- Both winged ants and termites have antennae but while termite antennae are straight, the antennae of ants are bent.
- Termites have wide waists, while ants have narrow waists that make them look almost like bees.
- Both flying ants and termites have two pairs of wings but termite wings are the same size. Ant wings are larger in front and smaller in the back.
- Swarming termites range from about 1/4-inch long to 3/8- inch long which is roughly the same same size as a carpenter ant or a large fire ant. Fire ants are 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch long. Damp-wood and drywood termites are larger than subterranean termites.
- Some worker termites are translucent, almost clear in color; others are brown or gray.
Eastern Subterranean Termites
This Formosan subterranean termite soldier measures about 1/2-inch long. Its head is darker and oval in shape, it has a rounded abdomen, a thick waist, straight antennae, and no eyes. Like the eastern subterranean soldiers, Formosan soldiers have powerful jaws to defend their colonies.
Formosan termites were spread by marine commerce and as one of the most destructive termite species in the United States, now cause millions of dollars of structural damage in the southeastern United States, California, and Hawaii each year. They can multiply and destroy wood structures faster than other native subterranean species. They don’t actually eat faster than other termites but their nests are enormous and can contain millions of termites.
Drywood termites live in smaller colonies than their subterranean cousins. They nest and feed in dry, sound wood, making them a significant pest of wood-frame homes. Like most termites, drywood termites eat structural wood from the inside out, leaving a brittle shell. Unlike some other types of termites, however, they don’t need access to damp conditions. Many species of drywood termites live in the southern half of the United States, with a range extending from California to North Carolina and southward. Most are 1/4- to 3/8-inches long.
One way to distinguish drywood termites from subterranean termites is to examine their waste. Drywood termites produce dry fecal pellets which they expel from their nests through small holes in the wood. Subterranean termite feces is liquid.
Eastern Winged Termites
The reproductive termites, called alates, look quite different from workers or soldiers. Reproductives have one pair of wings of almost equal length, which lie flat against the termite’s back when it’s at rest. Their bodies are darker in color than soldiers or workers, and alates do have functional compound eyes.
You can distinguish reproductive termites from reproductive ants, which also have wings, by looking at their bodies. Termite alates have the characteristic straight antennae, rounded abdomens, and thick waists, while ants, in contrast, have markedly elbowed antennae, pronounced waistlines, and slightly pointed abdomens.
Eastern subterranean termites usually swarm during the daytime, between the months of February and April. Winged queens and kings emerge en masse, ready to mate and start new colonies. Their bodies are dark brown or black. If you find groups of winged termites inside your home, you probably already have a termite infestation.
Formosian Winged Termites
Unlike native subterranean termites that swarm during the day, Formosan termites typically swarm from dusk until midnight. They also swarm later in the season than most other termites, usually between April and June.
If you compare Formosan alates to the eastern subterranean reproductives from the previous image, you’ll notice the Formosan termites are a lighter color. They have yellowish-brown bodies and wings that are a smoky color. Formosan termites are also noticeably larger than native termites.
China Photos/Getty Images
The termite queen looks quite different from the workers or soldiers. In fact, with her expansive stomach full of eggs, she barely resembles an insect at all. Termite queens have a physogastric stomach. This internal membrane expands as she ages and her egg-laying capacity increases. Depending on the species of termite, the queen may lay hundreds or sometimes thousands of eggs per day. Termite queens live extraordinarily long lives. A lifespan of 15 to 30 years—or more—is not uncommon.
Termites can do extensive damage inside walls and floors—often without detection. Since termites eat wood from the inside out, you probably won’t find them until your home is infested, and you’re more likely to see signs of damage than the bugs themselves. Look for:
- Sawdust or sand-like material near windows and door frames, which could be droppings of dry wood termites. You may also notice tiny holes where sawdust has accumulated.
- Mud tubes are structures that subterranean termites build to connect the nest to the source of wood. Check outdoors and indoors at the base of your home where the frame connects to the foundation and scan your crawlspace or basement if you have one, for the brown, branching structures. They can also hang from joists, so check the floor beams as well.
- Look for accumulations of dry fecal pellets left behind by drywood termites.
- Shed wings from the swarmer termites or the bugs themselves can often be found near windows or windowsills. Swarmers are attracted to light so check under outdoor fixtures.
- Does wood framing sound hollow when you tap it? You might have termites.
- Do you have wood that looks water-damaged but it hasn’t been exposed to water? You might have termites.
- If your painted or varnished wood or drywall is blistering, you might have termites.
- If you notice damage across the wood grain, you might have termites.
Termite Prevention, Mitigation, and Control
If you live in areas where termite infestations are common, it’s important to inspect your home (or have it inspected by a professional) regularly for possible infestation. Catching termites early can save you costly home repairs. Should you find signs of termites, you can treat the infestation yourself or call local pest control professionals. If you choose to do it yourself, you’ll need to find the location where they’re feeding (the “termite gallery”) and aggressively treat the site with insecticide. You’ll also need to place baiting stations or treat the soil to kill the remaining insects outside.
Of course, it’s better to prevent a termite infestation than it is to have to deal with one. Prevention methods include digging a trench and spraying an insecticide into the ground to repel them. It’s a labor-intensive process but can last for five to 10 years if left undisturbed. Bait stations aren’t labor intensive but must be checked every few months. They need to be dug down 8 to 10 inches and placed at intervals of eight to 10 feet. Bait stations are first loaded with “prebait.” Once termite activity is confirmed, they’re reloaded with poisonous bait. Termites bring this poisoned bait back to their nest and it kills the colony.