Ant or Termite? How To Tell the Difference

Karin Mangan

Winged ants and termites look similar and are often mistaken for each other. Both are black, with six legs, and are approximately half an inch long. The pest control methods required to deal with ants and termites are quite different so it helps to know the main differences between them.

  • Ants' bodies have three distinct sections with a narrow neck and a narrow waist.
  • Termites' bodies are roughly the same width all the way along.
  • Ants have longer legs than termites.
  • Ants' antennae are bent in the middle; termites' antennae are straight.

If the insects you see in or near your home are winged termites, it is likely to be a swarming termite looking for a new nesting area in which to establish a colony. You should call your local pest control services straight away for advice. If they confirm a termite problem, they can destroy the old colony, remove any termites that have begun to nest in your home, and help protect your home against future termite colonization.

If the insects are ants, there is less danger to your home, and pest control services may not be necessary. The best way to eliminate ants is to destroy their colony by using baits that the ants take back to their nest. This pest control method is slower but has greater long term success than spraying with pesticides. If you do not want to destroy the ants' nest, just keep them out of your home, you should:

  • Store food securely, clean up crumbs, and wipe surfaces so that ants are not attracted into your home.
  • Put talc or salt under doors and around windows to deter ants from entering your home.

Call pest control services if your pest control methods don't work; that ant could be a termite.

About the Author

Karin has worked as a freelancer for over ten years, writing informatively about a wide range of subjects. She has a PhD and a background in education and research.

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