Ants belong to the insect order Hymenoptera and are close relatives of bees and wasps. They are familiar insects that are easily recognized, especially in their common wingless adult forms, known as workers.
However, winged forms of ants, which leave the nest in large numbers in warm weather to mate and establish new colonies, are often mistaken for winged termites, which also leave their nests to mate. Ants and termites can be distinguished by three main characteristics:
- The ant’s body is constricted, giving it the appearance of having a thin waist; the termite’s body is not constricted.
- The ant’s hind wings are smaller than its front wings; the termite’s front and hind wings are about the same size.
- Winged female and worker ants have elbowed antennae; the termite’s antennae are not elbowed.