Do you have termites crawling around your property – or are they carpenter ants? With how similar the two look, it can be hard to tell them apart. Regardless of which you have, though, you’re going to want to take action to rid yourself of the infestation and prevent it from getting worse. The first step to keeping the pests away is knowing exactly what you’re dealing with so you can anticipate their habits and behaviors. So, carpenter ants vs termites — what’s the difference? And how can you tell which is invading your space? Keep reading to find out.
How to Identify Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants and termites frequently get mistaken for each other for a couple reasons. One is that they’re close to the same size. Another is that they can both have wings. Carpenter ants are larger than the average ant. About ½” in length, with colors ranging from black to brown to red and sometimes a blend of multiple colors, carpenter ants can look many different ways which leads to them being frequently mistaken for other ants.
Whereas most ant species are on a constant march for food, and you’ll often see them in a long line, you’re more likely to find carpenter ants in close proximity to decayed wood. They dig nests into rotten or decayed wood, leaving behind trails of sawdust and wood shavings. Unlike termites, they don’t eat wood – they merely use it for their habitat.
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How to Identify Eastern Subterranean Termites
The good news about termites on Long Island is that we only deal with one species here – the eastern subterranean termite. The bad news is that the eastern subterranean termite is considered the most damaging species of termite in the United States, averaging over $5 billion every year in cost of damage and treatment. A nest in your home is more than capable of causing a significant amount of damage over a span of several years.
Termites have dark brown to black bodies; their wings are a translucent beige. In the springtime, winged termites swarm looking for suitable locations to establish new colonies. If you see swarming termites, call your local termite exterminator to come take a look. The best course of action is eliminating the infestation before it can gain a foothold.
You may also find the mud tubes they travel inside, their droppings (also called “frass”), or piles of wings that were shed. To learn more about termites on Long Island, be sure to check out our termite learning center.
Carpenter Ants vs Termites: How Can You Tell the Difference?
Carpenter ants and termites are frequently mistaken for one another because they’re both interested in wood. The important difference is that carpenter ants use decayed or rotting wood for their nests while termites eat cellulose, an organic compound found in wood.
With carpenter ants, there generally is a limit to the amount of damage they will do. Although they will excavate into wood to create their “galleries,” the good news is that once they’re done, it won’t get significantly worse. Termites, on the other hand, will continue eating the wooden materials of a house for as long as they can. A growing colony can completely destroy the structure of a house over a period of many years.
You might be able to tell the difference between carpenter ants and termites based on the kind of damage they leave behind. Carpenter ants leave smooth, clean holes. Termites tend to leave behind a honeycomb pattern.
How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants & Termites
Store-bought ant control products can be hit or miss for carpenter ants. It really is a case by case basis depending on your infestation. If you do manage to get rid of carpenter ants yourself, consider yourself lucky.
You can continue preventing carpenter ant re-infestations over the long term by eliminating their access to food, water, and entry to your home. Clean up any crumbs in your kitchen or other areas. Dry up damp areas like crawl spaces, basements, or bathrooms. Seal off any cracks in your home that ants or other pests can use to get inside. Doing these three things can make a huge difference.
Termites are much tricker to get rid of. We don’t recommend DIY termite treatment because there’s a good chance you won’t get all of them. If this happens, the infestation will continue to worsen inside the walls of your home without your knowledge.
An experienced termite exterminator can fully assess the situation and identify the areas where termites are nesting. At Arrow Exterminating, we offer cutting-edge termite treatments performed by local termite experts. This gives you peace of mind and long-lasting results.