No one wants an infestation of termites or ants, for that matter, and it’s often easy to confuse the two. A flying ant can easily be mistaken for termites, and both can do damage to your house frame.
Whilst they share several similarities in looks, they also share comparisons in their behaviour. They are both notorious for causing damage to homes. Many people don’t realise that camponotus (ants) can also cause wood damage. They are often confused as a termite and are more regularly found in springtime as this is when they will mate and can be seen in swarms. Both are usually active during night hours.
The lifespan between the two is very different; termites will live longer, up to 25-30 years or so! While the reproductive termites live for approximately 24 months.
A queen camponotus ant can live for as long as 8-10 years, but the males will die shortly after mating, usually within three months.
Physical Difference Between Ants and Termites
If you’re unsure which insect is eating away at your woodwork, there are some physical differences that you can look out for. The use of a magnifying glass or bright light will assist you.
Body Shape – Take a close look at their body shape, especially their abdomen areas. The termite’s body is more rectangular, and doesn’t draw in. Therefore, it looks like they don’t have a waist.
In comparison, the ant has a very well-defined narrow waist that almost looks constricted.
Antennae – Termites have extremely straight antennae, whereas the ant’s antennae will look bent.
Colour – Termites almost look transparent or are extremely light in colour. They avoid light, and they will likely go unnoticed unless their nest is disturbed. Ants are a dark coloured brown/red and will expose themselves when looking for food.
Behavioural Difference Between Ants and Termites
Whilst both insects are known to attack wood, the way that they do this is done differently between both species. Termites eat the wood that they nest in. However, ants dig into the wood without eating it. Some would liken it to the excavation of the wood; the ants push through any openings they can find, which will still cause significant damage to your frame.
Camponotus ants are actually drawn to sweets, such as honey, fruits and syrup, which makes them very different to termites, who actually digest the wood.
Termites will also digest paper, cardboard, insulation and carpet.
Termites will cause damage to homes quicker than camponotus ants; homeowners will see significant damage within 2 – 3 years. Damage caused by ants will take longer to occur, but usually, homeowners will notice it earlier than terminate activity as the ants will make themselves known in areas that they are trying to attack. They are also drawn to areas with excess moisture.
How to control the infestation
Speaking to a professional will be your first point of call. The elimination process will be different depending on the type of infestation that you have.
Ants can often be controlled by eliminating the conditions that attract them, which is a lot easier to do than trying to remove termites yourself.
Control of either insect will take place over a period of time, with more than one treatment needed to ensure that they are completely eradicated, plus ongoing management to ensure they don’t return. A pest controller who specialises in these insects will write a treatment plan. Usually, the use of chemicals is needed to kill off an active infestation as well as repel further activity.
Once the infestation has been managed, you will need to then look at what areas of your home need to be structurally assessed. Depending on how long the damage has been occurring for will determine how badly the home’s structure has been compromised and if any structural wood needs replacing.
With all our ‘How to Blogs’, we recommend that you use this as a guide only and do further research by visiting the HIA website. The HIA Website provides expert knowledge in all areas of building and home renovation.