Home Services

Do I Have Carpenter Ants or Termites?

Posted by Kristi Baxter

In the United States, most residential calls for home pest services are related to either carpenter ants or termites. These two types of insects are famous for causing home and property damage. Both burrow into wood to nest and can cause costly structural damage if left unchecked.

How to Differentiate Between Carpenter Ants and Termites

Knowing the type of insect causing damage to your wood frames is essential in seeking effective home pest services. Homeowners facing these unwanted pests need to call for professional pest control help. These experts can offer critical insights on differentiating whether you have carpenter ants or termites in your home. The differences are based on:

  • Body size, shape, and color
  • Type of food they eat
  • Nest making
  • How they damage wood frames

Body Differences

Carpenter ant and termite bodies are totally different. Carpenter ants have a narrow waist, and their bodies are constricted in the middle. Their abdomens are rounded, and they have elbowed antennae. These ants can be black, light brown, or red and are about ¼ to ½ an inch long.

Termites have straight waists, and their abdomens are not constricted in the middle. Their antennae are beaded and straight. They can either be white or cream and are about an inch long.

Both insects have wings, but carpenter ants have wings relative to their body length, while termites’ wings are double the length of their bodies. Termites have weaker wings and can be found falling near the entrance of their nests.

Differences in Food

Carpenter ants are omnivores. Their diet consists of plant and animal matter. They will feed on honeydew, a sugary substance secreted by aphids, and other insects. Carpenter ants will also eat eggs, meat, cakes, and grease.

Termites are primarily cellulose eaters and feed on wood, dead leaves, and grass. They will also tunnel through insulation, paper, and even soft plastics to get to their food source.

Nesting Habits

Carpenter ants build their nests in moist or rotting wood. These ants prefer to build their nests in trees, stumps, or logs. Inside, door and window frames are ideal nesting sites for carpenter ants.

Carpenter ants do not eat wood while burrowing but push it out. If you notice wood shavings around your home, it is likely a carpenter ant nest.

Termites builds their nests in the ground. These insects will also tunnel through wood to create nests. You are likely to find termite mud tubes on your home’s foundation or any wooden structure. They eat the wood while burrowing, leaving nothing but a hollowed-out shell.

Differences in Damage of Wood Frames

Another big difference between carpenter ants and termites is the damage they cause to wood frames. How these insects burrow into wood will help you determine which home pest services to call.

Carpenter ants will create smooth tunnels with a finished look on the wood. These tunnels are clean and free of debris. If you suspect carpenter ants, look for holes in your wood frames with sawdust around them.

Termites will create ragged and rough tunnels. These tunnels will have bits of mud. If you suspect termites, look for wood tunnels with soil layers.

When to Call for Home Pest Services

Controlling carpenter ants and termites can be challenging. If you find either of these insects in or around your home, call for professional help immediately. Your chosen home pest control service can help you eliminate these wood-destroying insects.

These experts will conduct a thorough inspection of your home and property to determine the best course of action. Depending on how severe the infestation, they may recommend either a one time treatment or a multi-treatment plan.

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