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How To Identify Termites And Flying Ants

Posted by Mr. Hachis | On: Aug 25 2010

Because the termite bears a certain similarity to the ant, it can be confusing to tell them apart which is why you should know how to perform a simple termite vs. flying ant identification test. If you own a structure or grow crops, it is the responsible thing to do to be able to tell which pest is a termite and which is a flying ant. That’s why if you see a pest, use the following advice to do a termite vs. flying ant identification test.

The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is to inspect the body parts of the insect, which can be done without the use of a microscope or field glass in most cases.  Termites have two visible body parts: a head and a body.  All ants have three distinct body parts: head, abdomen and thorax.  In other words, the ant's body is separated into two body parts.

We have all seen ants in our lifetime.  Ants can be found indoors, outdoors, on plants, in our lawns and in flower or vegetable garden.  There are many different species of ants in the United States but they all have one thing in common: the classic head, abdomen, thorax sections of their body.  If you find winged insects in or around your home and want to make sure that they are not termites, pull back their wings and look closely at the body parts.  If the bug you inspect looks like an ant, it is usually an ant.  If it does not have three visible body parts but does have a head and a long body, it is probably a termite.

Another identifying characteristic that separates winged ants from winged termites is the antennae.  All ants have antennae that have a fairly severe bend or "elbow" but termite antennae to not have this sharp bend.  A termite's antennae are beaded; an ant's antennae have segments that sometimes end in small club. The different sections of an ant's antennae are often important to those involved in inspection and treatment of homes and lawns for ant infestations.  The number of sections, size of club, and even absence of a club are all important factors in the identification of the invading ant or termite pest.

The termite swarmer has four wings, as does the swarming ant.  The difference lies in the length of the wings.  When the wings of either flying insect are folded (in a resting position or when found dead) and appear to be two wings of the same or equal length.  Closer inspection reveals the true evidence.  When you gently spread out the wings you will find that there are now four wings, instead of two.

An ant swarmer and a termite swarmer both have 2 pairs or 2 sets of wings.  The wings of a swarming termite are all the same length.  The wings of a swarming ant are different.  The front wings (those that are visible when the wings are not spread) are longer than the rear wings.  When at rest, the front wings are folded over so that the rear set of wings are not visible.

One thing you need to remember when doing a termite vs. flying ant identification test is that the purpose of a winged termite is not to eat wood but to propagate the species. They cannot hurt you, but what they can do is lay eggs inside your home that will grow into a colony of its own and cause complete devastation to the structure itself. Sometimes that destruction is so severe that it requires rebuilding, and, in rare cases, razing of the structure itself.

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