Ants and termites are sworn enemies. They can frequently be found fighting each other viciously. Of all ants species, army ants rank among the of the most well-known. There are more than 200 types of army ants in nearly every region of the world. Army ants, and most ant species, have a complex social hierarchy and often migrate non-trivial distances to pursue food.
Termites, on the other hand, are probably one of the most common pests that can affilct humans. When they get inside wooden structures, termites can cause massive structural damage. This is the main reason why identifying a termite infestation in a timely manner is crucial for homeowner's who want to protect their homes from these insects.
Are you dealing with termites or army ants? How do their ant and termite infestations differ?
While non-experts may have a hard time pinpointing all of the differences, a few key variances, thankfully, do stand out. First, we will discuss army ant infestations. Army ants are the most common, although not the only, ant species that people deal with. Carpenter ants, for example, can destroy wood in a similar manner to termites. For the sake of discussion we will describe army ants but many some of the aspects of army ants are common to other species of ants and should be sufficient for distinguishing between termites and ants. Second, we will discuss termite infestations. And finally, we will broadly go over the differences between termite and ant infestations.
Army Ant Infestations: Everything that You Need to Know
Army ant colonies all have the same structure: they consist of a queen, soldier army ants, and worker army ants. Colonies can reach massive dimensions, and some of the bigger colonies have been known to house over 24 million ants.
Army ants are almost always nomadic. This means they’re not going to settle in the same place for a very long period of time. Instead, the ants move whenever their food source becomes scarce; they’ll start looking for new locations and new food source opportunities as necessary.
Army ants ants prefer a humid environment, but they can migrate to agricultural regions in a pursuit of food. The ants are quite aggressive and have even been observed attacking livestock. Some of the bigger colonies have managed to kill animals like chickens, and, shockingly, even pigs. In addition, army ants can destroy and completely deplete the food sources of many other species of insects and animals, indirectly harming other insects and animals.
Whenever a reproduction cycle takes place, ants typically settle down for a while. They’ll create temporary colonies and this is when an infestation will be likely to occur. A colony is easy to recognize because of the huge number of ants moving around and foraging for food.
Most often, army ant colonies are located above the ground. The ants could potentially enter a home in their search of food but they’re not likely to build the nests inside the walls or in other supportive structures.
Thus, army ants are likely to infest a property, but they’re not going to enter the house, unless they’re looking for food. Pest control professionals know what it takes to get rid of a colony. It’s a good idea to call for expert assistance prior to the ants starting their search for food. Otherwise, there could be a lot of insect movement in and out of the house.
A termite infestation is a much more serious problem because it affects the structural integrity of a property. While army ants will just enter the house in order to find food, termites live inside the wooden structures. Because of the massive impact they can have on a house and the difficult task of detecting a termite infestation, these insects have sometimes been called “the silent destroyer.”
All termites consume materials that feature cellulose. Wood is one of their primary options of preference.
In the US, it’s possible to find three different kinds of termites: Drywood, dampwood and subterranean termites, which are all likely to cause damage. The names are indicative of their preferred habitat, and the type of food that they prefer. Regardless of the differences, termite infestations tend to manifest themselves in more or less the same way.
Termites live in wooden structures and decaying trees. The amount of moisture needed for the survival of the insects will vary from one species to the other. However, one thing is certain – wooden structures that come into contact with the ground, pose a serious risk of infestation.
Has your home been infested by termites? There are a few signs that will help you determine the answer. Cracked paint, finding termite droppings, mud tubes on the exterior walls and wooden structures that sound “hollow” when tapped, are all common signs that termites are present. Sometimes, it’s also possible to see the insects themselves.
When a termite infestation is left undetected, it can cause tremendous damage. Since they consume the wood, termites can seriously undermine the integrity of a construction. Termite damage causes losses that can exceed five billion dollars per year, and it’s very important to keep in mind that the vast majority of insurance plans don’t provide coverage.
Termites vs. Army Ants
As already mentioned, army ants and termites are sworn enemies. Thus, having army ants in your property may be a good thing if you’re already dealing with a termite infestation.
Soldier ants are the ones responsible for protecting the colony against any enemies. Termites top the list. The army ants are actually of the primary predators of termites and very often, they’re the only ones capable of controlling the termite population.
Spiders are also known for preying on termites. Unlike army ants, however, spiders may attack individual members of the species. When army ants wage war, the effects will be felt by the entire termite colony.
The effect of ant attacks on termite populations has been so prominent that termites have had to adapt in order to defend themselves. Termite soldiers have blocky heads equipped with powerful jaws. These are there specially designed for the purpose of killing the army ants and preventing the disastrous consequences of their attacks.
The degree of control that the ants will be capable of providing is entirely dependent on the size of the ant colony and the population of the termite colony. If ants are capable of finding other food sources, they’ll also be less likely to attack the termite nests.
Thus, if you live in a building that poses a high termite risk, you may actually hope to get a visit by army ants or any ant species for that matter. These little soldiers could be capable of providing the natural pest control that pest exterminators aren’t capable of accomplishing.