Kansas State University


Extension Entomology

Tag: identification

Termites vs. Ants

–Dr. Jeff Whitworth and Dr. Holly Schwarting

Termites and ants have both been swarming intermittently for the past couple of weeks.  Both species usually start swarming in April in Kansas, but the cooler April temperatures seemed to have delayed this behavior for about a month.

termite swarm

Please make positive identification of any insects you suspect may be a pest, but especially ants and termites because there is an enormous difference in the amount of damage potential of termites vs. ants.  Note that although carpenter ants may nest in wooden structures, they will not cause the same degree of damage as a termite infestation.  Because of this, the cost of management for a termite infestation is much greater than carpenter ants.  For more information on termites and ants, please visit:

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

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


—Dr. Jeff Whitworth – Dr. Holly Schwarting – J.R. Ewing and Salehe Abbar

We have received several calls from south central and north central Kansas about termite and ant swarming (see photo). We have probably had more calls so far this year than in the last two years combined. Not sure what that means, but apparently this year the weather has been more conducive to swarming behavior, or possibly last year’s weather was more conducive to population increase, than the previous couple of years. Ants are generally antagonistic towards termites. However, while termite and ant colonies are located a distance apart, the swarmers (adult, winged reproductives) may occasionally end up together at a window or on a sunny wall, etc. Therefore, it can sometimes be a little difficult for the homeowner to distinguish ant swarmers from termite swarmers (see photo). But, it is imperative to make proper identification to ensure proper treatment is performed as treating for ants is much different (and less expensive) than treating for termites! For more information on termite identification, biology and control please visit: http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/MF722.pdf

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 9.46.11 AM