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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis

Swarms of Ants and Termites

Posted by John Fulton -

Also with some warmer weather comes the swarms of insects that raise that perennial question of "Are they ants or termites?" Swarming time for both insects is about the same time, and they are really looking to start new colonies because they have outgrown their old ones. This is the reason for the winged insects, the wings allow the ants or termites to cover larger areas to start their new colonies. The differences between ants and termites are several.

Let's start with the body color. Termites are always blackish in color, while ants may be black or other colors. If you have winged insects that are not black, you don't have termites.

Next, look at the body shape. Ants have a constricted "waist" while termites don't have that classic hour-glass figure. Antennae and wings are the other two body parts to look at. Antennae on ants are elbowed, basically in an "L" shape, and those on termites are straight. Both ants and termites have pairs of wings, but termite wings on the same side will be of equal length, while ant wings are of different lengths on the same side.

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