Difference between Ant and Termites
Termites are commonly known as White Ants. But termites are totally different from ants in many aspects. Both the termites and winged ants may seem exactly same at first casual glance. But one can find many differences between them on giving a closer look.
Ants are eusocial insects. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors, about 140 million years ago, and diversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than 12,500 of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified. They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and the distinctive node-like structure that forms their slender waists.
Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organized colonies that may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. Larger colonies consist of various castes of sterile, wingless females, most of which are workers, as well as soldiers and other specialized groups. Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called “drones” and one or more fertile females called Queens. The colonies are described as superorganisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony.
Ants have colonised almost every landmass on Earth The only places lacking ants are Antarctica and a few remote or inhospitable islands. Ants thrive in most ecosystems and may form 15–25% of the terrestrial animal biomass. Their success in so many environments has been attributed to their social organisation and their ability to modify habitats, tap resources, and defend themselves.
Ant societies have a division of labor, communication between individuals, and an ability to problems. These parallels with human societies have long been an inspiration and subject of study. Many human cultures make use of ants in cuisine, medication, and rituals. Some species are valued in their role as agents for biological pest control. Their ability to exploit resources may bring ants into conflict with humans, however, as they can damage crops and invade buildings.
Termites are eusocial insects. Termites were once classified in a separate order from cockroaches, but recent studies indicate that they evolved from close ancestors of cockroaches during the Jurassic period. However, the first termites possibly emerged then. About 3,106 species are currently described, with a few hundred more left to be described. Although these insects are often called “white ants”, they are not ants.
Termites divide labour among castes consisting of sterile male and female “workers” and “soldiers”. All colonies have fertile males called “kings” and one or more fertile females called “queens”. Termites mostly feed on dead plant material and cellulose, generally in the form of wood, leaf, soil, or animal dung. Their recycling of wood and plant matter is of considerable ecological importance.
Termites are among the most successful groups of insects on Earth, colonising most landmasses except for Antarctica. Their colonies range in size from a few hundred individuals to enormous societies with several million individuals. Termite queens have the longest lifespan of any insect in the world, with some queens reportedly living up to 30 to 50 years. Colonies are described as superorganisms because the termites form part of a self-regulating entity: the colony itself.
Termites are a delicacy in the diet of some human cultures and are used in many traditional medicines. Several hundred species are economically significant as pests that can cause serious damage to buildings, crops, or plantation forests.