Flying termites and flying ants bear a remarkable resemblance. Both are similar in size, shape and behaviour. However, in spite of this, termites are actually not a part of the ant species at all. The two are thought to have undergone a ‘convergent evolution,’ which explains their almost identical social and physical structures.
But this is little help to most homeowners, who unsurprisingly struggle to distinguish the two. Although it might not seem important, the presence of flying termites is far more of an issue than flying ants. That is why we have compiled a brief guide to help you learn the difference. With some luck, this will assist you in identifying termites in the future and seeking the right treatment.
Why do they swarm?
Before you start looking at the differences between the two, it is important to know why they swarm. Most people have seen a swarm of these insects before, and it can sometimes be nothing short of ominous. In the case of termites, it is. Termites, like their winged counterparts, swarm when they are seeking to establish a new colony.
If they choose to colonise your property, you might have a problem on your hands. Winged termites are capable of establishing the same harmful colonies as regular termites. In fact, winged termites create colonies of conventionally ground-bound termites. These can very easily cause irreparable damage to your home.
There are a few clear differences between the two species
If you see a swarm of what looks like flying termites, don’t panic. There is every chance that they are simply winged ants. These are still annoying and can even bite sometimes, but they do not pose a threat to the structural integrity of your home. All you need to do is get a good look at one of them, to try and spot the following features.
1. Wing Shape and Size
Both flying ants and flying termites have a total of four wings. Fortunately, they are configured differently. As a result, the wings are your primary point of reference when identifying the insect. On flying termites, all four wings are a uniformed shape. They are quite large and spread well out from the termite’s body. Flying ants, on the other hand, have two large wings and two smaller wings. The large wings are positioned towards the front, and the smaller wings are behind them.
2. Thorax and Abdomen
The thorax and abdomen form the bulk of a winged ant’s body. If you inspect one closely, you will see that the waist between the thorax and abdomen is quite thin. It almost makes a shape similar to an hourglass. That is quite distinct from the body shape of a flying termite. Flying termites have less of a transition between their thorax and abdomen.
As a result, their overall body shape is much thicker. This is something that you might even be able to observe as they fly around. However, to be certain, it is probably best that you try and find one that has fallen to the ground. This will allow you to determine definitively whether it is an ant or termite.
3. Both Species Swarm at Different Times
If you don’t want to get up close and personal to the flying insects, then there is another relatively reliable way to distinguish them. Flying ants and flying termites tend to swarm at different times. Seasonal changes usually prompt their swarming behaviour, and these seasonal triggers differ between the two species. Flying ants mostly swarm in the summer months, while termites prefer to swarm during spring. It is still ideal to take a close look, just to be sure.
Get in touch with Evict-A-Bug today, Brisbane’s pest control experts.