a carpenter ant features a reddish brown segmented body unlike lighter more tube shaped termitesAre you dealing with six-legged invaders who may or may not have wings, and you’re wondering if they’re termites vs carpenter ants? These pests have a striking resemblance to each other and distinguishing between them can be difficult. One thing they have in common is you don’t want them in your home, so it’s crucial to take swift action to eliminate the infestation as soon as it’s discovered. Of course, the first step is identifying which species they are – termites or carpenter ants – because this helps us determine the best way to get rid of them. 

So, let’s talk about the similarities and differences between carpenter ants and termites.

What Do Carpenter Ants and Termites Have in Common?

In the Flushing NY area, we deal with three types of termites. Unless you have a trained eye, it can be difficult to tell the eastern subterranean termite, subterranean termite, and formosan termite apart. So for simplicity’s sake, we’ll describe general characteristics of termites compared to carpenter ants.

Carpenter ants and termites often cause confusion for a few reasons. Firstly, they’re approximately the same size. At up to about ½” in length, they’re both quite a bit larger than the average ant. Additionally, both species can possess wings or not depending on their role within a colony, further adding to the resemblance. They both have two pairs of two wings, though carpenter ant wings are slightly smaller.

Both carpenter ants and termites will “swarm” to establish a new colony, so you might suddenly notice lots of them with wings, or you might notice piles of shed wings.

Carpenter Ants and Termites Both Destroy Wood

Both species are attracted to wood. Carpenter ants prefer decaying wood. They carve their smooth clean holes into it to create their “galleries,” leaving behind telltale sawdust and wood shavings. Termites will seek out any kind of wood they can find, or even non-wood substances that contain cellulose.

Need Ant or Termite Control?

Unlike carpenter ants, which create habitats in wood, termites actually eat wood – or rather, it’s more accurate to say, they consume the cellulose content in wood, destroying the wood in the process. For this reason, termites need a constant supply of wood for sustenance. They will keep eating and eating and, for this reason, there’s no limit to the amount of damage they can do to the wooden structure of a building.  

How Do They Differ?

Carpenter ants and termites have many similarities in appearance, but they have some key differences too.

Termites have dark brown to black bodies. Carpenter ants have colors ranging from black to brown to red and sometimes a blend of those colors. Carpenter ants have a narrow “waist” connecting their body segments whereas termites are more tube-like in appearance. Carpenter ants have thin bent antennae; termites have curled antennae that, if you look closely, look like a string of tiny beads.

You can also tell termites by the mud tubes they leave behind. Termites that live underground travel aboveground via mud tubes, so if you notice those it’s a telltale sign it’s termites.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants & Termites

When it comes to carpenter ants, the outcome truly hinges on the specifics of your infestation, making it a case-by-case scenario. If you do succeed in eliminating carpenter ants on your own, consider yourself fortunate.

You can prevent carpenter ant re-infestation over the long term by eliminating their access to food, water, and entry to your home. Clean up any crumbs in your kitchen or other areas. Dry up damp areas like crawl spaces, basements, or bathrooms. Seal off any cracks in your home that ants or other pests can use to get inside. Doing these three things can make a huge difference.

Eliminating termites poses a greater challenge. We strongly discourage attempting a do-it-yourself termite treatment, as there is a high likelihood of incomplete eradication. In such cases, the infestation could persist and worsen inside the walls of your home without you realizing.

An experienced termite exterminator knows how to get complete results. We can fully assess the infestation, identify areas where termites are nesting, and deliver targeted treatments that get results. Give Magic Exterminating a call today and get peace of mind that your home is protected!

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