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Ants vs Termites

checking the roof measurements

I think I’ve got termites! Or are they just ants? Help!

You may be confused as to whether the little creatures you’ve stumbled across in your house or yard are ants or termites. The two are actually quite different, here’s a couple of ways to tell them apart:

Antennae Simple string of bead-like segments Elbowed
Eyes No eyes Compound eyes present
Waist (‘Pedicel’- found between thorax & abdomen) Absent Present
Abdomen Blunt at end Pointed at end
Wings (‘Flying ants’ or ‘Winged termites’ 4 wings, all equal size, double the length of the body 4 wings – 2nd pair smaller

diagram comparing ants with termites

Both termites and ants operate within different castes (classes) and each have their own duties within the colony. The differences are:

  • Have an enlarged head with big jaws to help protect the colony
  • Both male and female, but sexually underdeveloped
  • Jaws are so big they can’t feed themselves and rely on the workers to do this
  • First line of defense against attack, often give their life protecting the colony
  • Present in ant species which are polymorphic
  • Much larger than worker ants and have strong jaws
  • All female
  • Protect the colony but also use their large jaws to help cut and carry objects
  • Both male and female
  • Carry out a range of duties - They are essentially builders, miners and midwives!
  • Responsible for the damage inflicted onto a property
  • Contain the greatest number of individuals within a colony
  • Only female
  • Look after the queen, care for the young, forage for food
  • Help expand and maintain the nest
  • Quite small compared to the other castes
Winged Termite / Flying Ant
  • Referred to as alate
  • Leave the nest in the spring and summer months to mate and start a new colony
  • Once they mate, their wings drop off as they land and find a new nest
Flying Ants
  • Referred to as Alate
  • Are only female
  • Their two sets of wings are different sizes from one another
  • Fly from the nest in the summer to start a new colony. Once they have landed and start to build a nest, they clip their wings and use them as a source of protein for their new family
Winged Drone
  • The only male in an ant colony
  • Their only job is to reproduce
  • During summer they fly off with the females to reproduce and start a new colony
  • Once they have mated, they die

If you suspect you have an ant or termite problem and are located in Townsville or surrounding suburbs, give us a call for a thorough pest and termite inspection. We’d love to help you identify what the species are and help you treat accordingly.