Differences Between Carpenter Ants & Termites

When It Comes To Wood Destroying Pests -
Carpenter Ants & Termites Are The Worst

Sure, it is no fun to have powder post beetles boring holes into the wood of your home, or carpenter bees making tunnels in the stairs leading up to your back deck, or finding out that rodents have chewed a hole into your pantry, but at the end of the day, none of these pests hold a candle to termites or carpenter ants. But even termites and carpenter ants don't present the same level of threat when they chew their way into a home. The damage caused by termites each year in the United States is in the billions. While carpenter ant damage is in the millions. Here are a few more ways these two insect pests are different.

carpenter ants tunneling in wood

Difference: How they damage wood.

Termites are wood eaters. Carpenter ants do not eat wood; they tunnel through it and establish galleries.

What this difference means for you:

Since carpenter ants don't eat wood, they have to do something with all the sawdust they create. As these tunnelers do their damage, they will create kick-out holes to push frass out. While drywood termites can also create frass, their frass is excrement, not sawdust.

These tiny termite droppings are hard pellets of varying colors of tan and dark brown. Whether you find sawdust or drywood termite droppings, these are an important sign that your home is being damaged by a wood-destroying pest.

 

Difference: What they eat

Termites feed on the wood of a home. Carpenter ants are omnivores that must find a meal outside of the confines of the wall they are chewing tunnels through.

What this difference means for you:

Since termites don't have to come out to get a bite to eat, they can be hard to detect in a home. Termite infestations can go on for years without detection.

Carpenter ants, on the other hand, can sometimes give themselves away when they send workers searching for food inside a home. While these worker ants are easy to pick up and dispose of, it is important to recognize them for the sign that they are. They are a warning that your home is being damaged by insects.

Difference: How they attack a man-made structure.

Subterranean termites live under the ground and can travel the length of a football field, underground, in search of food. They must come up to invade a home, but when they do, they build mud tubes on basement walls if they are unable to find wood that comes in contact with the ground. Carpenter ants live in the ground and come up to feed on a home, but they don't require moisture, and do not need to build mud tubes.

What this difference means for you:

Subterranean termites leave very few clues of their presence. These mud tubes are a vital warning sign that shouldn't be ignored. Look for tunneling in crawl spaces, underneath decks and stairs, behind bushes, on exterior and interior basement walls, and on the interior walls of your home. It is also important to understand that, if you have an area where the wood of your home touches the soil, you might be able to see deterioration caused by subterranean termites. This damage often looks like a hundred wood carving knives have attacked. Damage like this may also be found on portions of your home that stay damp and shaded.

Difference: These are two insects that look very different.

While termites and carpenter ants are both insects with two antennae, six legs, and three body parts, the division between the thorax and abdomen on an ant is pinched. The waist of a termite is not pinched.

The antennae of a carpenter ant looks like handle bars. The antennae of a termite are straight or slightly curved and, under magnification, look like many balls stacked on top of each other.

Carpenter ants are black or reddish black. Only the king and queen of a termite colony are black, and they will only be seen when they are winged swarmers. Termite workers and soldiers are pale and slightly orange.

What this difference means for you:

If you are aware that termites are several times more destructive than carpenter ants, it will definitely be nice to quickly know if you are looking at an ant or a termite.

What To Do If You Find Either Pest In Your Home Or Business

If you're concerned that your home or business has been infested by either of these wood destroying pests, contact Spencer. We'll send out a Service Professional to identify the culprit and to explain the best way to get rid of the pest. 

Offering effective termite control and pest control for carpenter ants in the Upstate of South Carolina including Greenville, Anderson, and Greer, we also offer service in northern Georgia and parts of North Carolina.