Most calls we get are from home owners unsure of if they have a termite problem or if they are just ants making a mess. Although both can look very similar they are in very different insect groups.
The best way to tell them apart is to have a closer look.
Ants have eyes present where as termites are blind with no eyes.
An Ants abdomen comes to a point at the end while termites are blunt at the end.
Ants Antennae is elbowed while termites have a string of bead-like segments.
Waist, the second between the thorax and the abdomen.
Ants have what is called a Pedicel while termites are lacking this part.
If still unsure you can have a look at the different types of roles played in the colony.
The most common role is a worker. Ant workers are all females that are sexually undeveloped and termites can be both male and females that are sexually undeveloped.
Soldiers in ant colonies are both workers and soldiers. They can have both roles depending on what is needed. Termite soldiers can have different possible body forms such as mandibulate (jaws) and nasute (long-nosed). These can vary depending on the species of termite.
Winged or Reproductive are common in both termites and ant reproductive cycle. Ants have unequal wings with veins thru them while Termites have equal wings and no veins are present.
Life Cycle Differences
Ants and termites have different life-cycle stages. An ant has what is called a complete metamorphosis which means it goes from an egg, to a larva, then pupa and finally into and adult. Termites have an incomplete metamorphosis which means they go from egg to nymph and straight to an adult from there.
The biggest thing you and I have to worry about is what damage they are doing. Ants are scavengers and have been found eating a range of different foods. Although they can be found living inside damp or decaying wood they do not actually eat the wood.
Termites eat plant tissue and are found feeding on grass and wood. Certain species can cause great damage to trees and buildings while feeding their colony.
If unsure or to get a second opinion it is best to call the professionals to ensure that you have no nasty surprises. Take a sample in a jar or call a Pest Technician to call around and have a look for peace of mind.