Wood destroying pests like carpenter ants and termites do more than $1 billion in damage to homes and businesses each year. Worried? You probably should be. Your home could easily be next, but which will you fall victim to and how will you tell the difference? This quick guide can help.
What Do They Look Like?
Termites and carpenter ants both show remarkable physical differences. While both have wings, the wings of a termite all tend to be the same size. On a carpenter ant, though, there are front wings that are bigger than the back ones. What’s more, though, is that the wings of the carpenter ant tend to be pointed while termites are paddle shapes. Also, carpenter ants have wings that are the same size as their body while termites are much longer.
Both carpenter ants and termites have antennae, but on the termites, they’re very straight. With carpenter ants, they are bent at an angle.
Termites have just two body segments, and where they’re joined, you’ll find a broad waist. Carpenter ants, though, have three segments. They’re joined by a thin, constricted waist.
You’re far more likely to see the carpenter ants than you are the termites. Carpenter ant workers often head out into the open to forage for food. Termite workers, though, stay inside the colony. In most cases, you only ever see the termite swarmers.
What Do They Do?
If you never see the pests, how will you figure out if you have them? There are a couple of different ways. First, if you happen to notice wood near or on your home that has been cleanly hollowed out and there’s bits of sawdust nearby (often called frass), you probably have a carpenter ant problem on your hands. Carpenter ants don’t actually eat the wood in your home. They just tunnel it out to make nests.
If, on the other hand, you see rough edges in the hollowed out wood or even hard, seed-like fecal pellets, you’re dealing with termites.
One other big difference is that termites will create mud tubes to their new nest, and carpenter ants won’t. Additionally, carpenter ants like to tunnel into moist, damaged wood. Termites will tunnel into anything they can find.
Either way, you have a real problem on your hands, as both of these pests can destroy your home quickly. Your best bet, whether you think you have carpenter ants or termites, is to contact a pest control professional for help. They can examine your home, make a determination, then come up with a treatment that fits the problem.