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Is There a Difference Between Termites and Carpenter Ants?
Is There a Difference Between Termites and Carpenter Ants? Nashville, TN
Pest Control
Dec 26, 2023

Termites and carpenter ants are often misidentified.

It’s common to lump carpenter ants and termites into one and assume they are the same thing. Yes, they both cause damage to wooden structures in homes, but they have some differences as well. Your Clarksville and Nashville termite exterminator can give you further tips on the signs to be on the lookout for.

  1. Appearance
    Waist size is the biggest distinguishing characteristic between the two. Carpenter ants feature pinched and slender waists that make a distinct separation between the top and bottom. Termites have a broader waist and more uniform appearance.

    Carpenter ants have antennae on the tops of their heads in the shape of elbows, divided into two large pieces, while termites sport antennae resembling a string of beads.

    For coloring, carpenter ants are black or dark brown in color, and may even be red or yellow. Termites are creamy white in color, or even dark brown or black depending on species and the role in the colony that they play.

    The winged reproductive members of termites and carpenter ants are both called swarmers, identified by their wing shape. Both insects have two wing sets, front and back. In termites, the wing sets are equal in size and length. In carpenter ants, the front wings are larger than the back ones.

  2. Signs
    Carpenter ants and termites both chew through wood quickly and easily, going undetected for long periods of time as they work to dig vast tunnel networks and galleries that eventually weaken the wood and compromise the integrity of the entire structure.

    Subterranean termites form mud tubes, as evidenced along the walls of your home, made of saliva, wood, and soil. These tubes protect the termites and lock in moisture as they navigate their colonies.

    Subterranean termite damage can resemble water damage, as evidenced by sagging, bending, crumbling, and darkening wood once they have had their way with it.

    Carpenter ants leave frass (small piles of excrement) that resemble pellets or sawdust, originating from the wood particles they discard through their nests via kick-out holes.

  3. Behavior
    Carpenter ants and termites are both attracted to wood and moisture. The key difference here is that termites actually consume the wood while carpenter ants do not.

    It’s for this reason that carpenter ants tend to be less destructive than termites. The damage they leave behind is only from tunnel excavation. On the other hand, termite damage is the result of fast and continuous eating.

    Carpenter ants will venture away from their nests in search of food such as meat, sweets, and fruit. This is why you’re more likely to spot carpenter ants sneaking around your pantry at night due to their nocturnal nature.

    Termites aren’t as easy to detect because they do not often venture out of their tunnels. The only time you will see winged termites is during swarming season as they look for mates.

  4. Treatment
    In trying to remove carpenter ants, baits, wood injections, sprays, and powders can be effective. And some of these methods may also be effective for drywood termites. However, a combination of all these methods will have to be used for both insects due to the fact that they burrow deep inside your home’s wood.

    Treating subterranean termites involves liquid barriers and bait stations, which target the colonies well underground buried in the soil. Of course, professional treatment is the best method of eradication and has the highest chance of success.

Termite & Ant Protection in Nashville TN

Our Nashville pest control technicians specialized in the treatment of both carpenter ants and termites, so contact us today at 615-502-2855 to get a quote and book your free consultation. We use the Trelona Termite Colony Elimination System for termite protection and removal in Nashville and Clarksville, TN.

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