Carpenter Ants Vs. Termites


To the untrained eye, carpenter ants and termites may look the same: oblong in shape, almost the same size with four wings, swarm in the springtime to mate and are notorious for damaging the wood in homes.

If your home is infested with any of these pests, you need to take pest control measures to get rid of the infestation and mitigate the risk of future infestations as well. But, pest control measures for both these pests are different. Therefore, it is important that you identify which pest infestation you are dealing with.

Termites Vs. Carpenter Ants 

 Physical Features Carpenter Ants Termites
Body Shape Narrow waist Broader waist
Antennae Segmented and distinctly elbowed Straight and bead-like
Wings Sturdy large forewings and small hind wings Fragile two sets of wings that are uniform in size
 Color Reddish or dark-colored Transparent, light or creamy white in color

Signs of Carpenter Ants Vs. Termites

Both insects usually build their nests in chimneys, damaged doors and window frames, sinks, crawl spaces under roofs, and bathtubs. However, both insects interact with wood differently.

Carpenter ants: Carpenter ants dig into the moist or damaged wood to build their nests; they do not eat the wood but push it out through openings of the galleries of their colonies. If you see moist rot wood in your home, it’s important to identify the root cause to ensure that the issue doesn’t persist in the future. If you see wood shavings or frass, it’s an indication of winged carpenter ants infestation.

Termites: Termites, however, eat the wood in which they nest. Another difference is the wood tunnel they make. Carpenter ants will make galleries and tunnels that are smooth and finished. By comparison, termite makes galleries that are rough and filled with layers of mud and soil. If you see a mud tube built between the wood and soil or on the outside of the walls, it’s an indication of termite infestation. These tubes protect them from open air and also serve as the passage through which the termites can travel to reach food sources in your house.

Carpenter Ant Damage Vs. Termite Damage

Carpenter ants: Carpenter ant infestation can also go undetected, but unlike termites (an estimate of $500 billion in damage each year), carpenter ants can take years to cause significant damage but at the same time it is necessary to get rid of carpenter ants.

Termites: Termites have the voracious ability to chew through flooring, wood, and wallpaper without being noticed. Therefore, they are known as the “silent destroyers.”

Carpenter Ant Vs. Termite Droppings

Apart from behavioral and physical distinction, there’s another difference between both insects. Carpenter ants and termite droppings are phenomenally different from each other. You can tell which intruder has infringed on your home by looking at them. Find the details about the difference between carpenter ants vs. termite droppings and how to indicate the difference.

Carpenter ants: The droppings of carpenter ants contain sawdust, soil, gravel, other insects, etc. Because of the inclusion of so many elements, there is no uniform shape and size of carpenter ant frass. You can spot carpenter ants debris near their nests, generally near the door, window frame, etc.

Termites: Termite droppings look like rounded capsules or small mounds of approximately 1 mm. The color of the termite frass will depend on what the termite ate. You will most probably find this termite residue or droppings near their nests. The termite droppings are mostly visible beneath damaged wood.

Carpenter Ants Frass vs Termite Frass

Check out the following ways in which you can spot the difference between termite frass and carpenter frass:

Carpenter ants: The carpenter ant frass is entirely different from termite frass. On the other hand, carpenter ant feces include insects, other pests, and carcasses as they don’t eat wood. They only excavate the wood to make their nest. Carpenter ant droppings vary in shape, size, and color, consisting of multiple elements. Sometimes you can easily mistake carpenter ant droppings for sawdust.

Termites: Termite frass is the feces of termites. They are also known as pallets. You will find them in the house as an indication of termite infestation. Termites eat wood, so termite residue contains termite sawdust and is fixed pallet shaped. Termite debris is oval-shaped and uniform in shape and color. Termites feed on wood, so their feces are in different shades of brown.

Controlling Carpenter Ants and Termites

Carpenter ants and termites are different, physically, and behaviorally. Therefore, controlling measures taken are different for both. While carpenter ant infestation can be easily controlled by eliminating the conditions that attracted them, termite control requires professional intervention.

Treatment of Ant Droppings & Termite Droppings

You can clean the feces of ants and termites from the floor with the help of a broom and spray a disinfectant in the place where you found them. But the ultimate solution is to get professional help and free your home from pest infestation.

For both insects, the control measures taken include a multi-pronged approach that uses different chemicals to kill the insects and avoid further infestation.

If you’re facing an infestation of either of these pests or if you’re not sure if it’s carpenter ants or termites, contact us by calling (209) 832-7300.

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