Do You Have Carpenter Ants or Termites?

It is quite difficult for an untrained person to tell the difference between a Carpenter ant and a termite. The two insects look similar, and both can cause extensive damage to your home and property. If you suspect either of these destructive insects has invaded your space, call a termite and pest control professional immediately.

Carpenter Ant or Termite: Guess Which One is Worse?

Termites are blamed for billions of dollars of damage every year, but what about Carpenter ants? While Carpenter ants are also destructive and can cause extensive structural damage to your home, they are easier to detect than termites. Because Carpenter ant infestations are typically found early, they don’t have the same chance to wreak havoc as well-hidden termites do.

If you see either winged Carpenter ants or winged termites in your home, you are seeing what’s referred to as “swarmers,” In both species, the swarmers are responsible for reproducing.  The presence of swarmers indicates that there is already an infestation inside your house.  In both cases, you may also see a tiny pile of “frass”, which is a combination of insect waste, insect parts, and sawdust, collecting around baseboards or window frames.  

Signs of Carpenter Ants

The first thing a homeowner typically notices when dealing with a Carpenter ant infestation is small holes drilled into wooden structures in or around the home, such as window frames. Carpenter ants prefer wood that is moist or rotting, but they will also chew through sound wood.  It’s important to note that Carpenter ants don’t actually eat wood; they bore through it to make nesting galleries.

Other signs that point to Carpenter ant infestation include:

  • Faint rustling noises inside of walls
  • Swarming winged insects that come out after sundown
  • Winged insects that swarm in late spring, especially May and June
  • Small piles of frass around windows, under sinks, or other moist places

Carpenter ants are usually black. They have two body segments, are pinched at the waist, and have six legs. They can be slightly larger than termites, measuring ¼- to ½-inch long.

Signs of Termites

Termites actually do eat wood. They’ll eat any wood. A peculiar habit that helps to identify termites from other pests is that they tend to eat along the grain of the wood, creating a distinct honeycomb pattern.

Other indications of a termite infestation include the following:

  • Swarming winged insects that come out in the daytime
  • Swarming insects in early spring
  • Discarded wings near windowsills or doors
  • Strange effects on painted walls like bubbling or cracking paint
  • Sawdust or “frass” collected in corners and around baseboards
  • Dark spots on walls, ceilings, or floors that look like water damage

Termites are typically about ¼-inch long, are made up of three segments, have six legs, and are dark brown, black, or cream in color.

When to Call Termite and Pest Control

The time to call a professional exterminator is the moment you see a Carpenter ant or a termite or see the damage that is typical to either insect. Insects reproduce quickly and can cause thousands of dollars of damage in a short time. Call Southeast Termite & Pest Control before your home becomes another statistic.