Carpenter ants vs termites – How do termites differ from ants?
This question is not so simple – no wonder termites are called white ants. But they are not ants.
How can you tell termites from ants?
First, the structure of the body. Both termites and ants are insects, i.e. they are “made up” of three parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen. The thorax is the torso of insects, strictly speaking; their legs and wings are located there.
It’s all there and the termites, and ants. But, in ants, all these parts of the body are clearly separated from each other: they have both a “neck” and a “waist”. Termites do not have this clear division, all parts of their body smoothly “flow” into each other. This is one.
Two are the color of ants and termites. All termites are white, even colorless or transparent: their bodies do not contain coloring pigments – they do not need to. The entire life of termites (with the exception of winged ones) is spent underground, in complete darkness, where no paint or eyes are needed.
But this made termites not only blind, but also vulnerable to the sun: they are easily burned and die in “direct light”. To avoid this fate, termites became master diggers and builders. Their termite mounds sometimes reach such heights that their shadow gives shelter to elephants, and their tunnels reach many kilometers in length.
For comparison, if we are talking about the construction “professionalism” of insects, ants ‘ anthills never reach such impressive sizes as termite mounds – ants do not need this. Their bodies are completely protected from the sun (and painted in different colors-black, red, yellow, etc.), even in the desert (under certain conditions), and most of their passages outside the house are laid on the ground, not underground. Moreover, there are wandering ants that do not build permanent anthills at all, but spend their entire lives (or rather, their lives) roaming. Termites can’t do that – they’re tied to their termite mound and tunnels. This leads to a third difference between ants and termites. Termites eat only plant food, and not only (and not so much) grass, but wood, cellulose. Digesting such food is not easy, so termites have very specialized bacteria in their stomach that simply do not allow them to eat anything else.
Ants, on the other hand, are opportunists and generalists: they eat everything they can find, and most animal food – other insects, other invertebrates. However, they also eat something of plant origin: pollen and nectar, the juice of trees and vegetables-fruits. The main difference is that termites like eat a wood, while carpenter ants prefer to nest in wood.
Ants eat many types of food, but termites – no, only one or two. Therefore, termites live only where there are many regular sources of their food: in jungles and savannas, where it is warm all year round and there are plants. (Even their name, “termites”, comes from the Latin word” Terme”, i.e.” heat”.)
Ants are more flexible: they, of course, also live in jungles and savannas, but they can live in temperate climates, where there is winter, and in deserts – at that time they just fall into hibernation.
The last difference between termites and ants is their relationship to humans. Different types of ants behave differently: there are slave owners, there are shepherds, there are grain eaters, there are honeyeaters, there are nomads, there are predators… and their relationships with people are also different. Some, like fire ants, are their enemies, others, like carpenter ants, are pests, and others, like the black and red forest ants of the middle zone, are even friends: they destroy more harmful insects, like butterfly caterpillars.
There is no such pluralism with termites. All termites-pests that can destroy-eat the whole house, if it is made of wood; if not, then the furniture will do. In third world countries, which are usually located in hot, tropical climates, this is not a joke, and can even lead to the death of people.
Termites are very ancient and resistant insects. Living underground, they are vulnerable to various pesticides and other insect poisons, which are also difficult to deliver-spread in countries with poorly developed roads and other infrastructure. And in general, termites are not related to ants, as it may seem at first glance, but to cockroaches; the survival rate of cockroaches is known – they have outlived dinosaurs, mammoths, and people, too, probably will survive. With such tenacious close genetic relatives, termites are also very tenacious insects, and most likely they will outlive us too, along with ants and other insects.
Which Causes More Damage?
Of course, termites (underground termites or subterranean) cause more damage an expected $5 billion in property harm to homes over the United States every year. It is customary to fight termites. After all, untimely processing of residential structures made of wood can lead to the collapse of the entire building. The termites bite is very unpleasant. Due to the special chemical composition of bacterial secretions, their bite can cause a severe allergic reaction. The patient may not only have swelling and fever, but also develop Quincke’s edema, dizziness, abdominal pain. Termite-a Ghost, able to arrange their colonies in the rectum of domestic animals and humans. This causes excruciating pain, the cause of which is not easy to diagnose, and leads to serious health problems.
So be careful and promptly respond to the appearance of unwanted guests.