The Difference Between Ants and Termites

Termites vs. Ants

Termites are insects that are known for eating through the wood. When there are many termites in an area, the insects can chew through home or lawn structures. Because termites can cause damage, it is important to know whether you have an infestation of termites or ants. Below we list the different types of termites and ants as well as ways to tell the difference.

The Difference

  • While, both termites, and ants, have wings, termites have wings that are generally two times as long as their bodies.
  • Ants have a thin midsection and look more segmented than termites who have a full waist and uniform shape from top to bottom.
  • Many ant species are often redder in color than termites; most termite species are brown or grayish.
  • Swarmer termites and winged ants look similar and are sometimes confused for each other.
  • Termite swarmers have straight antennae and have wings that are the same size.
  • Flying ants have bent antennae, and their front pair of wings is bigger than the rear couple. 

Types of Ants

Carpenter AntsCarpenter Ants

The size of carpenter ants within a colony can vary. Adults can measure 5/8 inches in length. Winged swarmers or males can measure up to 18mm. Queens can grow to 20mm in length. Their color is usually black or brown; however, some are a combination of black and orange. They have a rounded thorax with a pinched midsection. The antennae are bent slightly. Carpenter ants do not eat wood; however, they do burrow in it. If you have an infestation, you will see piles of wood shavings. They can be found anywhere in a home but prefer areas near water sources and window frames.

Acrobat Ants

The size of acrobat ants can vary from 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch in length. Their midsection is pinched with a heart shape and color can be black to dark brown to black and red. Their infestations are usually outdoors within moist and rotted wood such as tree stumps, logs, fences, and decks. If there is moist and rotted wood, they can readily come indoors to nest as well.

Black Ants

They measure approximately 1/8 inch in length and are jet black. They tend to nest near food and water sources. If found in the home it is because they are searching for food. They usually can be found inside a wall or beneath the carpet by the doorway.

Fire Ants

Their size can range from 1/8 inch to 3/8 inches in length. The color is reddish brown. They are mostly found outdoors within mulch or when they build large mounds of soil to nest in. They can enter homes through cracks and holes.

Moisture Ants

Moisture ants measure approximately 1/8 inch in length and are dark brown. This species usually nests outdoors in the soil of lawns. They do invade homes and establish their nests near water leaks. They will carry soil from the outside to build their nest inside.

Odorous House Ants

The size is approximately 1/8 inch in length and the color is brown. They nest outdoors within in potted plants, mulch, underground cover, and within firewood and lumber. They do nest in homes in walls and beneath carpeting as well.

Pavement Ants

Pavement ants size is 1/8 to 1/10 inch in length. The color is brown to black with a black abdomen and pale legs. Their colonies can multiply quickly on a patio or in a kitchen. They feed on meats, grease, dead insects and honeydew from aphids.

Pharaoh Ants

The size varies from 1/16 inch to 1/2 inch in length, and they are reddish brown. These ants are very tiny and enter homes to feed on grease and sweets such as sugar, fruit juice, jelly and more.

Thief Ants

Their approximate size is 1/6 inch in length and is a golden yellow color. They search out other ants to steal their food, eggs, and larvae. Within homes, they can be found where there is moisture in kitchens, bathrooms and around windows.

Types of Termites

Subterranean TermitesSubterranean Termites

There are several types of termites, including the subterranean termite. These insects are common in New Jersey as well as parts of the southern United States. The subterranean termite is in every state in the U.S. except for Alaska.

There are about six subterranean termite species in the U.S. these include the dark and light Southeastern subterranean termite, the Eastern subterranean termite, the Western subterranean termite and the land subterranean termite. Insects of this variety can also live in desert conditions.

The size varies depending on the caste. Workers are 1/8 inch to 3/8 inches in length and are a cream color. Soldiers are the same length, but have bigger heads, strong mandibles, and have brown heads with a light colored body. Reproductive termites can be brown, black or opaque in color. Subterranean termites can form large colonies and quickly eat through wood, which makes them particularly devastating to a house. 

Drywood Termites

The size of the drywood termite varies depending on their age from 1/4 inch to 3/8 inches in length. They have a full waist and straight antennae. Drywood termites thrive mainly in the south and on the west coast in states like Arizona, California, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. These insects are also common throughout the state of Florida. These types of insets attack wood furniture and flooring and can be found eating through wood frames and structures. The insects do not require moisture from the soil and get all of their nutrients from the wood. These termites prefer warm weather but can thrive in the right conditions in the Northern regions of the U.S. 

Dampwood Termites

Size varies from 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch in length. They have two pairs of wings that are the same shape and size. Dampwood termites are native to the southern part of Florida, as well as states like Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Montana. These termites can live without soil and prefer decaying wood, as well as woodpiles and wood that makes have holes or leaks. These termites do not usually invade a home and tend to eat through outdoor structures like woodsheds or gazebos. 

Do All Termites Have Wings?

When trying to figure out if termites have wings, it is essential to have a basic understanding of termite castes or social order. This will let you know what place winged termites have in the colony.

In the colony, there are three types of termites. The reproductive termites include the winged alates or swarmers, which are the queen and king of the colony. Swarmers are between one-fourth and three-eighths of an inch long and have two pairs of wings that are gray. Both pairs of wings are similar in size. 

The termites that do not have wings are the soldiers. These termites protect the colony to keep predators out. The non-winged termites also search for food for the colony.


Now that you know the difference between ants and termites, do you think you have an infestation of either? If you believe its a termite infestation it is imperative to contact a pest control company right away. The damage they can do can be costly. If you have an ant infestation call as well. They are a nuisance and the carpenter ants can destroy wood while burrowing in it.

Are you living in northern New Jersey and looking for an expert professional pest control company? Contact NJ Pest Control for a consultation. Our team will inspect your property to find the source of the ants or termites and give you viable solutions for their removal. It is best to remove all of these pests as soon as possible to prevent damage to the construction of your home. Our pest elimination methods are safe, efficient and provide long-term relief. For more details, contact NJ Pest Control, located in Randolph, NJ in Morris County.