Termites and ants look similar, especially when they are swarming. This causes both confusion and concern to a home owner.
Here are some ways to identify the differences between termites and ants:
While both species have four wings, termite wings are uniform in size. Winged ants have noticably larger wings in the front than the pair in the back.
Termites antennae are almost straight where the ants antennae are elbowed.
Termite wings are twice as long as their body. Ant wings are shorter and more proportionate to their bodies.
Ants appear distinctly segmented, because of their thin waist. Termites have a broad waist and are mostly a uniform width along their entire body.
Termites may eat wood, but what they are really after is the cellulose that the wood is made of. Ants are omnivours, and can eat just about anything a person can eat. This includes all of the four food groups and just about anything else in your kitchen that is left out! That means fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, sugars, oils, herbs, nuts, juice, etc. are all on the menu for ants.
Subterranean termites daily food consumption rates vary, among six species of termites common to the United States, from 0.015mg to 0.2mg, averaging about 0.08mg per termite per day. Formosan termite workers tend to eat slightly less than average, but make up for that with huge colonies. The amount an ant will eat will vary from species to species, but the average ant consumes approximately 1-2 miligrams of food per day – About 20-35% of their body weight.
If you discover a termite or ant infestation in your home or yard you should contact your local pest control company and request a free inspection.