Termites or Carpenter Ants: How to Tell the Difference

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Termites or Carpenter Ants?

If you consider having leaky faucets as a homeowner’s worst nightmare, then you certainly haven’t heard about a termite infestation. Despite their size appearance, these insects can cause a great deal of damage to buildings. According to the USDA, each year, American property owners spend over $1 billion to repair termite damage.

Surprisingly, some homeowners can’t spot the signs of an infestation until it’s too late. Often, it’s because they can’t tell whether it’s termites or carpenter ants. If you suddenly notice a colony of insects around your home, it would be best to reach out to a professional pest control company for termite treatment & prevention services.

In this article, we’ll be answering questions such as what do termites look like, how they cause damage, and where to seek termite control services. This information will help you act fast in case of an infestation, saving you from compounding expenses.

Differences in Appearance

At a glance, you will likely not know whether the reason your kitchen cabinets seem to be falling apart is due to termites or carpenter ants. This is because:

  • Both can have wings
  • They swarm during the warmer seasons
  • Roughly of similar sizes and shapes (at first inspection)

Despite these similarities, each insect has distinct characteristics.

What Do Termites Look Like?

Termites only have two body parts, i.e., the head and thorax. They also have short antennae with pointy rough edges. Additionally, these insects are four-winged. These wings are of equal length and are twice the size of the termite’s body.

A quick tip: Termites discard their fish-scale like wings typically around patios and doorways.

What Do Carpenter Ants Look Like?

On the other hand, carpenter ants have three body parts, namely the head, thorax, and a thin abdomen. They also have elbow-shaped antennae that stick on each side of their heads. While they do have the same number of wings, their wings are shorter than those of termites. Also, the front wings are longer than the back ones.

Food choices

Both insects chew wood. However, the main difference is that termites will feed on wood as it provides nutrients to their bodies. On the other hand, carpenter ants will only chew wood to create a path and form a shelter.

Nesting behavior

Both insect colonies will use wood as shelter. Even so, carpenter ants will often target already damaged or moist wood. You will likely spot their nest near bathtubs, chimneys, on window frames as well as roof crevices.

As for termites, their species determine their nests. For instance, for those in Florida, the Formosan subterranean termite is the most common reason for termite treatment. Typically, these termites have huge populations of close to two million termites. They dig into structural timber while forming “mud” tunnels from underground.

Other species, such as the Dampwood, prefer logs and other moist environments. Whereas Drywood, just as the name suggests, will feed on dry areas such as attic frames.

Termites vs. Carpenter Ants Damage

The extent of wood damage is another key factor in determining whether you are dealing with a termite or carpenter ants infestation. Carpenter ants create smooth, polished, and clean hollows. Also, since they don’t eat wood, you will likely find debris lying around the damaged site. Their organized nature is perhaps what makes it difficult for some homeowners to notice wood damage until it’s late.

Unlike ants, termites create rough and mud-filled tunnels in damaged wood. Popularly referred to as ‘silent destroyers,’ these pests can chew through wood unnoticed. Also, unlike carpenter ants, these insects cause immediate damage, hence the high yearly costs of property damage.

Contact McDonald Pest Control to Diagnose Termites or Carpenter Ants in Your Home

Getting rid of termites or carpenter ants requires expertise in pest control. Pest control in Clearwater calls for correct identification of the insect species to choose the right treatment. At McDonald’s pest control, we use the latest technology to eliminate termites and ants while preventing further wood damage. To learn more about our reliable termite control services in Clearwater, call us on (727) 734-0963 to set up a free consultation.