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Termites are very small and similar in size to ants, which often leads to confusion. In fact, knowing the key differences between these two pests is a good starting point for identification.
Owing to their secretive nature, termites can be hard to detect, especially with an untrained eye. You are far more likely to spot the signs of termite damage before you spot termites themselves.
As with any other pest, correct identification ensures the use of the most effective control methods and allows you to choose the most appropriate prevention steps to try and avoid problems in the future.
Need help identifying termites? Call Ehrlich today at for advice and to schedule a FREE termite inspection of your home or business.
Do termites really look like ants? Termite swarmers can look like flying ants, and they are often confused.
The difference between these two pests will greatly impact the type of service needed to control them in your property.
Often a suspected problem with termites, turns out to be a problem with carpenter ants or fire ants, because they look so similar.
Here’s how to establish the general differences in appearance and behavior between ants and termites:
Waist - Termites have a straight waist, while ants have a pinched waist.
Antennae - Termites have straight antennae while ants have bent antennae.
Wing Length - Termites wings are the same length while ants have wings of different length.
Look for discarded wings around window sills - Flying termites (also known as swarmers) are often confused with flying ants, because both their winged mating cycles occur during the springtime. However, flying ants do not shed their wings. If you have seen these flying insects in your property, you can be fairly certain you have identified termites if you’ve also found discarded wings.
Look for differences in body shape - The image below should help you identify important differences in body shape of termites and winged ants (termite is on the right, ant on the left):
Have you spotted termites in your home or workplace? As these insects are highly destructive, you should get professional advice and termite control from Ehrlich right away.
Even armed with the above information, it may still be hard to make a correct identification using the naked eye. Bear in mind that termite swarmers are only about ¼ inch long – about the same size as a pencil eraser.
Identification is made even more difficult by the fact that termites often remain hidden away in properties for years without the owner’s knowledge. As already mentioned, the first indicator of a potential problem is usually visible evidence of termite damage.
Ehrlich’s termite species guide offers greater detail on what termites look like and how to recognize the common features between termite species.
All types of termites can cause damage to your home, but knowing a bit more about the different species of termites can help identify them more easily.
The location of your property as well as its component structure will both have an impact on the termite species, which you may be at risk of.
Generally speaking, incidence of termite infestation is much higher in the southeastern states, such as Florida, and the west coast states, such as California, and gradually decreases the further north you travel in the country.
Here are some of the most common termite species found in the U.S. Subterranean termites are one of the most common species found throughout the U.S.
The top 3 most invasive species of this type, include the Eastern subterranean, Western subterranean and the Formosan subterranean termites.
Eastern subterranean termites are the most prevalent and can be found on the east coast in states like Georgia and as far west as Utah. Western subterranean termites are mostly found along the west coast and inland through to Nevada.
Formosan termites - are a particularly serious type of subterranean termite, but are not as common. Formosan subterranean termites are found primarily in Louisiana, Mississippi, along the Gulf coast.
Drywood termites - can also be found in the US, sometimes nearer to the coast although they don’t need moisture to survive. They are prevalent along the gulf coast as well as on the west coast in California.
Dampwood termites - live in damp and rotting wood and mulch, and can often be found near open water. They can enter your home through wood that meets damp soil.
Once correct identification is made, the most effective solution plan can be offered to quickly bring the problem under control. Ehrlich offers conventional termite treatment which uses liquid termiticide treatment and other methods include the use of monitoring and baiting systems.
At Ehrlich, we confirm the invading termite species through a visual identification rather than just looking at the evidence of the damage to your building and its location.
However, some of the points below could be of help to you, when checking your building for signs of activity:
Subterranean termites begin their feeding process (damage) from the ground up and typically enter a building through the sub-structure. Homes with crawl spaces are at great risk. It is here you should look for evidence of damaged wood and mud tubes. Wood damaged by this particular species develops “galleries” (hollow tunnels), which run along the grain of the wood.
Drywood termites typically enter structures near the roof line or other exposed wood to begin building a colony. Inspect your attic for evidence of damaged wood. Look for tiny holes in the wood with evidence of frass collecting nearby. Probing the wood can also expose galleries as well.
Having experienced a termite infestation, most people will be eager to ensure they do not have the same problem in the future. Ehrlich can give you simple steps you can take to “termite-proof” your home or business and the prevention plans can offer further help.
If you suspect you have termites, call us today at or contact us online to arrange a FREE termite inspection for your home or business.
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