Kansas State University


Extension Entomology

Tag: swarmer’s

Termites vs Ants

–by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

Termite and ant colonies have been very active over the past week or so and are producing reproductives or ‘swarmers’.  We have seen flying/fluttering individuals every place we have stopped throughout north central Kansas, as long as it was between about 10am and 4pm.  Thus, we have received many calls regarding the differences between reproductive ants versus reproductive termites, in both cases often just referred to as ‘swarmers’.  This swarming behavior seems to be initiated about the same time each year for both ants and termites as the same type of warm, wet weather evidently triggers both.  Thus, it is imperative to be able to distinguish the two as they do very different kinds of damage and consequently require different management plans.

Termite reproductives, or swarmers, are dark brown to black, with transparent or translucent wings of equal size, and the dark body is cigar shaped, having no noticeable body divisions or waist.  Termite antennae are straight and lack a club on the end.  Ant reproductives, or swarmers, are also dark brown to black with transparent or translucent wings, but the fore or front wings are a little longer than the bottom or back wings.  Ant antennae are elbowed, coming out perpendicular to the head then bending forward at a 90 degree angle.

For more information on ant identification, biology, and control, please visit:  https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF2887.pdf

For more information on termite identification, biology, and control, please visit: http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/mf722.pdf



Ant and Termite Swarms

— by Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

It is that time of year again when termites and ant colonies start producing ‘swarmer’s’.  Swarms of flying ants have already been noted in the last week.  After all of the moisture, and as the temperatures warm into the 70s°F and above, both ant and termite swarming will become more apparent.  Only the adult reproductives of both ants and termites have wings and can fly.  These flights, or more rightly probably called flutters, are of short duration and usually start mid-to-late morning as temperatures warm into the 70’s.  These swarms can contain up to thousands of winged individuals and often attract the attention of birds and other predators that take advantage of these poor flyers for an easy meal.  It is important to distinguish between ants and termites because termites can be very destructive of just about anything made out of wood while ants are more of just a nuisance.  The following can help distinguish between ants and termites.


For more information regarding ant and termite biology and control please see these publications:

ANTS – https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF2887.pdf

TERMITES – http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/mf722.pdf