Differences Between a Carpenter Ant and a Termite You Need to Know!

Is that a termite or a carpenter ant nest? Do ants fly out of holes in the ground? Why does that ant look so weird?

When it comes to pests that can potentially destroy your home, many homeowners are on high alert when they come in contact with anything that resembles wood damage caused by a termite. While the termite is the most destructive wood-eating insect, there are other pests that are also known to damage wood. They include the wood borer, bark beetle, carpenter ant, and carpenter bee.

Most of these other wood damaging insects are more of a nuisance. However, the carpenter ant is an insect that homeowners should also put on their radar. They don’t exactly cause the amount of damage that termites cause each year, but they are known to cause pricey damage if their numbers are not managed.

And when it comes to getting rid of bugs and pests in your home, the first thing is to know what kind of pest you are dealing with. Here are some differences to help you distinguish between a termite and a carpenter ant.

The Difference in Damage Between a Carpenter Ant and a Termite

Yes, termites do cause more damage than carpenter ants. However, it is how they cause the damage that is the cause for concern. Termites consume wood and products containing wood. Wood is their primary source for survival and they eat wood 24/7/365. They don’t even sleep between rounds of eating.

Carpenter ants don’t eat wood. The damage they cause to wood is due to them creating tunnels. Because carpenter ants must leave their wooden tunnels to find food, homeowners are more likely to actually see a carpenter ant. And since termites never have to leave, you may never even realize that you have a termite problem until it is too late.

The Difference in Appearance Between a Carpenter Ant and a Termite

Carpenter ants and termites are very different in appearance. Like most ants, carpenter ants have a cinched waist. These ants are usually black or brownish-black in color. You may also see them flying around during the times of year that they are swarming.

Termites don’t look anything like ants. They have a more rounded body and are pale in color. And because they stay within their colonies and inside the wood they are consuming, chances are high that you are actually seeing a carpenter ant. However, most people do see termites when they are swarming and looking for a nice area to set up their next colony. Since carpenter ants also swarm, people often get the two confused.

Carpenter Ants and Termites Attack Your Home Differently

Termites and carpenter ants both live underground. Subterranean termites tunnel underground in search of food. When they come to a wooden structure that is above ground, they create mud tubes to gain access. These mud tubes can be seen in crawl spaces, on the exteriors of your home, and even on interior walls.

Carpenter ants leave their underground sanctuary in search of food. Unlike termites, they don’t rely on moisture and mud tubes in order to gain access.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants and Termites

So, you think you may have a carpenter ant or termite colony in your home. What do you do? For carpenter ants, you want to start out by sealing up all of your food, clean surfaces, and make sure that the dog’s food is put away and sealed after they eat. Like most ants, carpenter ants are in search of food. By sealing up food and any small crevices, you can prevent most bugs from coming inside including carpenter ants. If you think you have a termite problem, it is best to call the best professionals. You don't want to risk your home.

Preventing and getting rid of pests are two different things. If you think your home or business has been infested with carpenter ants or termites, please give Hopper Termite & Pest a call today to set up a FREE PEST EVALUATION. Our trained technicians can easily tell the difference in termite damage versus damage caused by carpenter ants. Whether you are in Arkansas or Missouri, we can create a plan of action to get rid of these bugs before major damage is caused.

To learn more about termites, download the termite guide located on our homepage. 

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