Ants are most often seen one at a time. In the spring, you may find large numbers of flying ants. These are the reproductive members of the colony. They indicate the presence of a mature colony nearby, and this is cause for concern. This colony must be found and destroyed immediately because ants are capable of doing severe structural damage if left untreated.
There are several kinds of ants that may occur in and around the home ranging in size from about 1/32 to 3/4 inch long and colored yellowish, light brown, reddish-brown, brownish-black or jet black. Ants, as all insects, have three body parts, head, thorax, and abdomen. Most are wingless, but the homeowner sometimes may confuse swarming, winged ants with swarming, winged termites, causing alarm. Ants can be easily distinguished from termites by several characteristics:
- Ant bodies appear constricted or pinched in at the waist, while termites do not have the waist constriction.
- Ants have elbowed antennae, while termites have straight, bead-like antennae.
- The forewings of ants are much larger than the hind wings. Termites’ wings are equal in size and shape.
- Ant wings are transparent or brownish, while termite wings are milky-white or grayish and longer than the body.
- Ant wings are firmly attached, while termite wings are easily removed or shed (fall off).