The Differences Between Ants and Swarming Termites in Florida

Florida’s climate is an attraction to a variety of pests including ants and swarming termites. Both insects can be found throughout the state. Ants in Florida can be placed in three groups – carpenter ants, yard-infesting ants, and house-infesting ants. Some types of ants in Florida include the tiny ghost ant, Pharaoh ants, tawny crazy ants, Argentine ants, fire ants, acrobat ants, and thief ants. Most ants are found outdoors and indoors during most of the year with highest activity during the spring and fall. Carpenter ants are year-round inhabitants. Foraging for food can take place during the day or at night.

The types of termites in Florida include the Eastern subterranean, Formosan subterranean, Florida dampwood, and powderpost drywood. Subterranean termites generally swarm during the warm months of spring and summer especially after it has rained. When termites swarm in Florida is dependent on the type of termite. The spring, summer, and fall months are swarming seasons for some, while the tropical smooth-headed drywood termite, for example, can swarm any time during the year. Some termites prefer the daylight for swarming while others, such as the Formosan termite, prefer the nighttime for swarm activity.

Mistaken identity is often a problem when trying to decide if the pests flying inside the home are ants or termites. Both insects have a slender body, have a pair of wings, and both can do damage to the home.

Differences Between Ants versus Swarming Termites in Florida

The carpenter ant is one of the most common species in Florida and frequently misidentified as a termite. There are several characteristics that can help homeowners determine if they are dealing with a carpenter ant or a termite.

  • Termites have a head and thorax; ants have a head, abdomen, and thorax.
  • A termite has a broad waist whereas a carpenter ant has a slim waist.
  • A termite’s antennae are straight and bead-like. An ant’s antennae are segmented.
  • Termites are equipped with two sets of same-size wings. Ants also have wings with the larger wings in the front and smaller wings in the back.
  • When termites are swarming, they are easily seen. When they are not swarming, you most likely will not see them. Carpenter ants may be visible once inside the home.
  • Termites are attracted to moisture and wood. For ants, wood and moisture are attractors along with anything sweet.
  • Termites dine on the cellulose found in wood. Ants prefer to eat items with sugar and protein.
  • Termites, for the most part, do not bite. Fire ants bite and sting.

Most ants do not cause damage to the home structure. They are more of a nuisance running unchecked over countertops, in the garbage can, and contaminating food products. The exception is the carpenter ant that can tunnel its way inside chewing wood along the way to build a nest inside the walls.

Termites are also drawn to wood, which can result in extensive and costly damage. Termites will eat away wood beams, around doors and windows, floor joists, or any other area of the home where available wood is accessible. Over time, the chewed wood can result in the structural integrity of the home becoming weak.

When you see signs of termites in Florida homes, or observe ants in and around your property, it is time to call in the professionals from Capelouto Termite and Pest Control to assess the problem.

Capelouto Termite and Pest Control

Whether you have an ant infestation, swarming termites, or both, our staff is ready to help clear up and clear out the problem. Call or fill out the online form to schedule an appointment for inspection and a plan of action to eliminate the current problem and prevent future infestations.