HoW to tell The DIfference Between Termites and Ants


3 Types of Termites

Identifying a Termite

It is very common to see ants in Toronto throughout the summer months, however, most people don’t realize termites can closely resemble ants in appearance. While ants can be a nuisance and cause some damage, Termites will do a lot more damage to your home once they have settled in. 

There are a large variety of different types of ants in Toronto. This article will not go into the details of identifying ants. It will go into details on how to tell if the insect you found is a Termite. This information should be known by every homeowner in Toronto.

Termites have a colony hierarchy, meaning there are variations in what they look like. The colony consists of a king, queen, workers, soldiers, and winged reproductive termites. The king and queen live in the colony and do not leave, so you do not need to be able to identify them. The other three types types of termites are what you should know.

Identifying a Termite

Termite Workers

Termite workers are the most common type of termite you could see. They have a close resemblance to a grain of rice. They are soft bodied and white. They are most frequently seen when a termite tube or infested piece of wood is disturbed.

They are the easiest to distinguish by their colour. There are no “white ants” in Toronto. If you see insects that resemble ants in size, but are white, they are most likely termites.

Termite Soldiers

Termite soldiers are similar in appearance to termite workers. Their distinguishing characteristics are that their heads are a darker colour, they are slightly larger in size than worker termites and they have large pincers they use to defend the colony from predators. 

Winged Reproductive Termites (Also known as Termite Swarmers)

Winged reproductive termites are the most difficult to tell apart from ants. They have wings, which is why they are sometimes mistaken for ants. While termite reproductives are not as common in Canada as they are in the United States, Aetna has noticed an increase in the amount of termite swarming activity over the last decade in Toronto and the GTA. 

Winged termites have straight, beadlike antennae, while winged ants (and all ants) have a distinctly elbowed antenna. Termites have two pairs of wings of equal length, whereas ants have two pair of wings of unequal length. Finally, termites have thick waists, whereas winged ants have thin waists and distinct constrictions between their body parts – head, abdomen, and thorax.

We are fortunate that our harsh Canadian winters do not allow for adverse conducive conditions that encourage termite swarming activity as the southern United States does; however, next time you see what looks like an ant (particularly near or on a window sill as termite reproductives are attracted to light) have a second look and double check whether it’s an ant you are looking at or a termite.

If you only see insect wings on the window sill and no insects, have a look to see if the wings are relatively the same size or not. Whether it’s ants or termites you are having an issue with give us a call at (416) – 469 – 4111.

We will identify insect samples at our office

If you have a sample of the ants, or any other insect you need identified, feel free to bring them into our office at 1828 Danforth Ave on Monday to Friday, between 9am to 5pm, for a free insect identification.