Skip to content

Carpenter Ants vs Termites – How to Tell the Difference

Serving Long Island | Nassau County | Suffolk County

Termites infesting wood, one of the reasons they’re easily mistaken for carpenter antsDo you have termites – or are they carpenter ants? These are two of the most dreaded insects to find because they can cause tremendous damage to your home. Yet the average homeowner doesn’t know how to tell the difference. In this article, we’ll tell you how to identify carpenter ants and termites, and what you should do if you find either of these destructive pests.

Note: Since we’re a Long Island-based pest control company, we’ll be comparing carpenter ants to the eastern subterranean termite because this is the only termite species we have in the area.

Carpenter Ant and Termite Similarities

Before we dive into the differences, let’s note the similarities between termites and carpenter ants to get a better idea of why they’re so often mistaken for each other. Here are the main traits that both share:

  • Size: Both termites and carpenter ants are approximately the size of a large ant – about ½” long.
  • Both can have wings: In their swarming phase, carpenter ants and termites will develop wings. If you know what to look for with these wings, you can use them as a clue to tell them apart.
  • Interest in wood: Carpenter ants and termites seek out sources of wood, but what they do with the wood is very different.

Differences Between Termites and Carpenter Ants

  • Color: Carpenter ant colors can range from black to brown to red; sometimes, they have a blend of colors. Eastern subterranean termites are translucent beige to brown.
  • Waist: Carpenter ant bodies’ are clearly segmented with narrow waists; termites have thick waists and more uniform body shapes.
  • Antennae: Carpenter ants have bent antennae; termites have straight antennae.
  • Size of wings: Carpenter ant and termite swarmers both have two sets of wings. Termite wing sets are the same size. Carpenter ants have front wings that are larger than their back wings.
  • Type of damage: Termites consume cellulose in wood as the main staple in their diet; their damage can weaken or bow wood and cause it to sound hollow. Their damage may also appear in honeycomb patterns. Carpenter ants only use wood to build their galleries. Once built, they will stop. Their damage is often smooth.
  • Mud tubes: Eastern subterranean termites use mud tubes to emerge from underground. If you happen to see mud tubes, it’s a telltale sign there are termites present.
  • Hiding: If you can easily see them, they’re more likely to be carpenter ants. Carpenter ants will wander around solitarily. Termites generally remain in large groups, hiding deep within structures.

Carpenter ant vs termite - keep pests away from your home with Arrow Exterminating Company in NY

Dive Deeper into Comparing Termites and Carpenter Ants

Now that we’ve gone over the major differences between carpenter ants and eastern subterranean termites, let’s dive deeper. Here are some frequently asked questions about the two.

Which Is Worse – Termites or Carpenter Ants?

Dealing with infestations of either of these pests is a very frustrating experience. That said, termites are worse than carpenter ants for one simple reason.

With carpenter ants, there generally is a limit to the amount of damage they will do. They will excavate into wood to create their “galleries,” but 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 destroy the structure of a house over 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.

Do Termites and Carpenter Ants Cooperate?

No, in fact these two species often compete against each other for the same territory and resources. Carpenter ants will kill and eat termites, and in large enough numbers, can even destroy entire termite colonies.

What Should You Do About Termites and Carpenter Ants?

If you find termites or carpenter ants, we recommend contacting a pest control company as soon as possible. These are destructive pests, and if you catch them early, it will be a much easier problem to eliminate – and you can avoid damage to your home.

We offer both termite control and ant control services. For a free estimate or to schedule an appointment, give us a call today.

Can You Do DIY Termite Control or Carpenter Ant Control?

There are store-bought products that promise to solve termite or carpenter ant infestations, but how effective are they really? While they can provide a low level of protection, you shouldn’t rely on them to eliminate an established infestation. They may eliminate part of the infestation, but probably not all of it, and it’s likely the population will bounce back.

For best results, we recommend working with your trusted pest control provider. 

Call Us to Eliminate Termites and Carpenter Ants

Both carpenter ants and termites can cause severe damage to your home. If you suspect a problem, call or contact the professionals at Arrow Exterminating to identify and eliminate them. 

For more information, schedule a consultation today.

Back to Ant Exterminators – Control – Removal

Carpenter Ants vs Termites – How to Tell the Difference Serving Long Island and surrounding areas

Richmond | Kings | Nassau County | Suffolk County

Enjoy the Outdoors!
Learn More About Our New Mosquito Repellent System