How can I tell if those are flying ants or termites swarming at the foundation of my house?

Ant alate

  • Ants have a thin waist (a narrow area between the thorax and first abdominal segment).
  • Front pair of wings is larger than the hind pair.
  • Wings have few veins and are usually clear.

Termite alate

  • Termite thorax and abdomen are broadly connected.
  • Four wings are approximately the same size and shape.
  • Wings have many veins and may be milky-colored.
Anatomical differences between ant alate (top) and termite alate (bottom).  Drawings courtesy of University of Florida Extension.

Fire Ants Stings Can Be Serious

Pustules on a baby's hand from fire ant stings
Pustules on a baby’s hand from fire ant stings

The biting, stinging fire ant is a nuisance most people are far too familiar with, but few recognize the life-threatening danger these small pests pack in their punch.

Recently, a Texas teen died after numerous fire ant stings during a junior high football game in Corpus Christi. Allergic reactions to fire ant bites are rare, but require quick thinking and proactive first aid work.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Program Specialist

Protect Yourself and Your Family from Fire Ants in a Flood

A red imported fire ant colony floating in flood water. Tremendous amounts of rain can fall over a short period of time resulting in flooding of low-lying areas. With this flooding comes the problem of various “critters” trying to find safe, dry ground. In areas of the south infested with red imported fire ants  (Solenopsis invicta Buren) these ants and their colonies can present a potentially serious medical threat to people and animals during times of flooding.

Flood waters will not drown fire ants. Instead, their colonies will

I have small, dark ants in my house. How do I get rid of them?

Ants and a magnifying glass.

The first step in any pest management plan is to identify the pest. With ants this can be quite difficult because of their small size. A microscope with greater than 30x magnification is often needed to identify them. Most people won’t have access to a microscope, so you can take the specimen to your local county Extension office for identification.

Identifying the ant is important because ants have different food preferences and different behaviors that will directly affect how well