Termites and carpenter ants are two insects that can infest your property and cause damage to wooden objects. This can be frustrating for homeowners, which is why it’s important to know the difference between the two and find out which insect is responsible for the infestation and then work on ways to eliminate the problem.
So what’s the difference between termites and carpenter ants? The most important difference between the two is that unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t eat wood. Carpenter ants simply excavate the wood they forage in to build and establish their nests. On the other hand, termites usually eat wood because it has cellulose, which provides them with the essential nutrients they need to survive.
Differences Between Termites and Carpenter Ants
Termites and carpenter ants love wood and moisture, especially damp wood (subterranean termites are more attracted to moisture than other species). Check for the following in order to differentiate a termite from a carpenter ant:
Both insects have the typical insect build: they both have a head, thorax, and an abdomen. However, a carpenter ant has a narrower waist than a termite.
Termites are usually transparent or white in color with equal-sized wings, while carpenter ants are red or dark-colored, with their front wings being larger than their back wings. They also have straight antennae, while carpenter ants have segmented and elbowed antennae.
2. Life Cycle
A carpenter ant goes through a complete metamorphosis throughout its life. On the other hand, termites go through an incomplete metamorphosis and their life cycle consists of three stages: egg, nymph, and adult stages.
3. Eating Habits
Termites eat wood and have symbiotic microorganisms living in their digestive tract that help them absorb the nutrients from the cellulose found in wood, paper, or cardboard. A carpenter ant’s diet mainly consists of protein and sugar. When they are outdoors, they feed on honeydew, a sweet liquid produced by aphids and scale insects.
The two have different interactions with wood. A carpenter ant establishes its nest by digging through the damaged wood and pushes the debris out through the openings of their colonies. These insects are also neater when it comes to maintaining their nests since they create galleries that are smooth and finished. On the other hand, termite colonies, especially subterranean termites, live in the ground and create tunnels called mud tubes to travel from their food sources (wood) to their nests.
Which Pest Causes More Damage?
Here are the differences between termites and carpenter ants in terms of the damage they cause:
1. Physical Damage
You can distinguish the differences in how the damage looks and how long it takes the insect to create the damage.
A termite colony usually creates messy tunnels caked with mud, compared to the neat and smooth galleries that carpenter ants create. And even though a carpenter ant can still create as much damage as termites, it would take these insects years to do so. Because of this, the termite colony can be considered more dangerous when it comes to furniture damage.
2. Health Hazards
Both insects can bring health risks to humans, but it isn’t as serious as other pests, such as mice, rats, and ticks. While termites can bite, sting, and cause contact dermatitis, carpenter ants do not bite humans and only cause damage to wooden objects.
How to Eliminate Termites and Carpenter Ants
Termites and carpenter ants require different methods for population control. Termite colonies are usually eliminated using a liquid treatment or a bait station. A liquid treatment acts as a barrier, while a termite bait station is usually installed underground to slowly poison and kill an entire termite colony.
On the other hand, a carpenter ant infestation can be treated by eliminating their resources from your property or using certain insecticides. And since the two insects are attracted to moisture, you should check your property for leaking pipes or clogged gutters. You also need to check gaps in areas near the window or walls that provide entry points for these insects.
To easily understand the difference between termites and carpenter ants, refer to the table below:
Pest Control at Midway Pest Management
Whether you’re dealing with a termite or carpenter ant infestation, you should always look for the best people to help eliminate the problem. At Midway Pest Management, we offer professional pest control services to ensure that you live in a pest-free property. Aside from termites and carpenter ants, our team also specializes in exterminating other kinds of pests, such as rats, mice, bed bugs, and birds. Call us today to schedule your free inspection.