Termites vs Carpenter Ants: The Important Differences

There are several things you need to know when comparing termites vs carpenter ants. Learn more about these differences right here.

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Termites are considered the #1 most destructive household pest. They can cause thousands of dollars of damage by destroying the structural foundation of your home. Carpenter ants aren’t much better in that they’re also wood borers that eat away at your property’s foundation.

Determining whether you have termites vs carpenter ants infesting your home can be a challenge. They look similar, but there are differences that can help you figure out what you’re contending with. Read on for some tips and tricks on how to identify what types of pests are bothering you.

Termites vs Carpenter Ants: Similarities and Differences

Many lucky people realize that they have a pest infestation because they see the bug itself. This isn’t a fun experience, but it’s still fortunate since you’ll have the chance to trap and examine the pest.

Some physical features of a termite are:

  • Straight antennae
  • Little beads on the antennae
  • 4 equally-sized wings
  • Wings that are much longer than the body
  • No defined pinched waist
  • Transparent or creamy-white bodies on worker termites
  • Dark brown or black swarmers (meaning that they’re diverse in color)

Carpenter ants look a little different:

  • Bent antennae
  • No beads on the antennae
  • 4 wings, but of unequal sizes
  • Front wings that are larger than the body, but small back wings
  • Black, brown, or reddish bodies

Signs of a Termite vs Carpenter Ant Infestation

If you see a bug flying around in the light, it’s almost certainly a carpenter ant. They don’t mind flying around to find wood even during the daytime. Termites avoid light and will only come out if you disturb their nests.

If you know that you have pests but have not seen them, you can tell what you’re contending with by assessing the damage to your wood. Termites leave holes that are uneven and ragged. They also are likely to be filled with mud, dirt, and grime.

On the other hand, carpenter ants bore into wood extremely evenly. The tunnels that they leave behind will be incredibly smooth around the edges. They won’t have any soil or mud inside them since carpenter ants are very clean.

The quality of the wood that they bore into will also help you determine what you’re up against. Carpenter ants don’t eat wood and instead push it out of the edges of holes. Termites actually consume the wood that they bore into.

This means that carpenter ants will leave small wood shavings under the galleries that they create. Termites won’t.

The original state of the wood is also relevant. Carpenter ants will make their nests in wood that’s already damaged or rotting. They crave moisture.

Termites don’t care where they burrow. They’ll just chew right into healthy wood. If you notice that high-quality wood has mud-filled holes in it, you’ve definitely got termites. 

What Damage Can They Cause?

Termites are by far the most destructive pest that can make their way into your home. They cause more property damage than fires do every year across the US. Experts say that Americans contend with about $5 billion in termite damage every year.

This is because of the speed that termites destroy your home. They 

Since they burrow into healthy wood, they also have a lot of options for places to burrow and nest. They’ll destroy even strong structures within weeks or even days. Plus, they reproduce quickly, so if you don’t call in a fast-action pest control company, the problem will become exponentially worse within just a few weeks.

Carpenter ants also reproduce fast, but their damage is more contained. They only burrow in certain areas, which stunts their ability to nest and multiply. These areas also have worse wood quality, so they don’t do as much damage as termites do.

Still, over the course of a few months, carpenter ants can become a serious problem. They’re not something you want hanging out in your home, either.

Carpenter ants also will bite people and pests and have really powerful jaws that inject acid into the victim. This doesn’t pose a health risk in most cases, but it hurts and isn’t fun for people and pets involved. It’s something to worry about since they like to go out into the light.

Dealing With Different Types of Pests

Termites are some of the worst pests out there. It’s almost impossible to get rid of them on your own. At the first sign of termites, it’s critical that you call a California pest exterminator.

If you suspect that you have carpenter ants, you also should ask a professional to take a look. After all, it’s easy for an untrained eye to make a mistake.

Some websites will tell you that you can get rid of carpenter ants by changing the conditions of your home. They just don’t like moisture-laden holes, so you can change out the low-quality wood that has rot and breakage for new boards.

Unfortunately, it’s extremely easy to miss locations where carpenter ants might burrow. You’d need to examine and alter the entire foundation of your home as well as wood floors and shelving. This is an expensive task that might not even solve your problem.

A professional pest exterminator can help you find the root of your carpenter ant problem. They can exterminate the nest so that you don’t need to undergo expensive and often unnecessary repairs. Plus, they can help you identify all areas that the pests burrowed into so you know exactly what needs to be replaced.

Get Quick Pest Control in Northern California

Now that you know the signs of termites vs carpenter ants, it’s time to combat all types of pests in your home.

Fast Action Pest Control is committed to ensuring that California homeowners are comfortable at home. We also will make sure that your property remains safe from pest damage. Schedule a free inspection online to begin the process of pest extermination ASAP.