What’s the distinction between carpenter ants and termites?

When homeowners deal with pests, they often confuse each other. The main confusion concerns the distinction between carpenter ants and termites. Both are hawkers who shed wings as they mature, and both do so at the same time of year. You can expect to see these wings when spring comes in and it offers favorable conditions such as the warmth of the sun and moisture.

It is important to understand the difference between the two as they need to be treated differently. If not treated properly, an infestation threatens that can damage your home. Let's explain the differences between these two pests.


The body shape of these insects is different and you can easily identify them once you understand their characteristics. Carpenter ants have a head, a rib cage, and a belly, while termites only have a head and a rib cage. Ant wings are much smaller compared to termite wings. If you suspect an infestation but cannot identify the culprit, it is best to seek professional help. Let an expert see a copy and see what he's dealing with.

Eating habits

Both pests target wood, and it's another reason why it is difficult to distinguish between them. While termites feed on wood, carpenter ants cannot digest wood cellulose. They only dig in wood to find shelter. Both pests thrive in humid conditions, so they will look for places that provide access to water. Carpenter ants use moisture to make pieces of food edible. You can deter these pests by repairing leaks and moisture problems so they don't get the right conditions to thrive.

What is the difference between carpenter ants and termites - wood

Nesting sites

Another common characteristic of these pests is that they both live in the forest. Carpenters ants find shelter and build nests outdoors, in tree stumps, landscaped gardens, fence posts, and firewood because these areas are where they get copious amounts of moisture. You can even thrive indoors looking for damaged wood, such as B. on window and door frames, chimneys, crawl spaces under roofs as well as sinks and bathtubs. Since they can nest in multiple places, you need to have pest control experts to get them rid of them. Subterranean termites thrive in abundance in subterranean colonies. You build tunnels to get to sources of food in your home. Conversely, moist wood termites live in stumps, tree trunks, dead trees, power poles and fence posts. Another variant are termites made of dry wood, which attack dry wood, for example in attic frames.


The most noticeable difference between the two is the damage they cause by creating tunnels and galleries. Those made by carpenter ants are sleek, neat, and finished in appearance. Conversely, termite galleries and tunnels look rough and rough and are encrusted with mud. Mud hoses on the outer walls or on the foundation are a warning signal for a termite infestation. Termites act as silent destroyers as they can quickly chew through wood, wallpaper, and floors undetected. Carpenter ants are also difficult to spot, but will only cause significant damage over the years.

Since the differences between these two invaders are subtle, it is best to call on seasoned exterminators to identify and deal with the one that is thriving in your home. You will also have proper treatment to get rid of the pest for good.

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