Is it a carpenter ant or a termite?
How to tell the difference between the two

Termites vs. carpenter ants… What do you have? Often, when we discuss various pest issues, that’s exactly the role that those creatures pose: simply pesky and disruptive presences. However, in some situations, these “pests” could be better characterized as a crisis waiting to happen.

That is the exact case when we discuss termites and carpenter ants. Both insects pose a severe danger to the health, value, and stability of any structure built with wood framing, which accounts for the vast majority of buildings in the US. 

Despite this common threat, the two actually differ in a variety of categories and change the way in which the problem is treated. A wood-destroying insect infestation is not something that a hobbyist should be addressing. These are situations best handled by professional, local termite control technicians.

However, identifying the type of insect is something any Kansas City homeowner can pursue with just a base level of knowledge. Today we’ll discuss some of those factors so you can make a proper assessment of a potential pest issue facing your property.

Termites Vs. Carpenter Ants: Physiology

Subterranean Termites Working.

Despite sharing a common taste in their diets, ants and termites are fundamentally different insects. As such their physical makeup sets them apart from one another. First, termites have a two-section body shape, consisting of a head and thorax.

Their general shape flows from one section to the next with little deviation. Carpenter ants instead have a three-section structure to their body. Along with a head and thorax, ants have an abdomen section, showing two clear indentations from the other sections.

Both insects may also have wings, these are reproductive swarmers that emerge from existing nests to go find a suitable location for a new nest. Termite swarmer wings are typically longer than carpenter ants’ but without comparing the two it can be difficult to make that determination. 

Termites vs Carpenter Ants: Behavior

This is one critical difference to understand between termites and carpenter ants. While both have the same target in your home, they have different goals. Termites eat wood. In truth, they can eat through most solid materials like stone and concrete to get to wood deposits that they consume to nurture their hive.

Carpenter ants do not eat wood. Instead, just as their name suggests, they choose to make their nests in wood deposits the same way other ants construct galleries in soil. 

The result of this difference is in the pace and manner that the infestation takes place. Termites are renowned for their voracious appetites, They will quickly eat through deposits, constructing protective tunnels to shield them from any exteriors, and leaving behind droppings.

Carpenter ants will instead methodically work through the wood in your home, constructing their tunnels and galleries. Then they will likely venture into your home in search of food the same way other ants do.

Ant workers.

Termites vs Carpenter Ants: Impact

This is one area in which both insects share much in common. Despite their variations in method and speed, they both pose a severe risk to any standing structure that has employed wood in its construction.

Collectively, they contribute to an amount of home damage every year that dwarfs many small industries. They can cause homes to become structurally unsound and may pose an issue if you ever choose to sell the property.

Both pests require the skills of professionally trained experts. At Gunter, we’ve been refining our expertise and approach to termite and carpenter ant treatments for decades. Our termite inspectors have over 60 years of combined termite experience, and many of our pest control experts have been inspecting and treating carpenter ant colonies for over 20 years each.

We understand the nuances and the potential risks of these types of infestations and how best to address them on a case-by-case basis. Reach out to us for any questions or concerns you have about pests in and around your home.

You can call us any time to take care of your insects and rodents. We will keep your family safe and pest-free. Our phone number is 816-444-2847.

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