Carpenter Ants vs Termites

It is important to know the type of pests present in your home. Carpenter ants and termites are two bugs that can cause stress for homeowners because they damage properties significantly.

While both species may seem similar initially, several differences exist between the insects concerning prevention tactics and treatments to use to get rid of them.

Let’s check out carpenter ants vs termites to see which one you have and what can you do.

Carpenter Ants vs Termites: Basic Differences

Carpenter ants vs termites

1. Appearances

Carpenter ants and termites have different appearances that can help you differentiate between the two:

  • Body shape: Termites have a broad, straight waist, while carpenter ants have a well-defined, narrow, constricted waist.
  • Antennae: Termites have straight, beaded antennae, whereas carpenter ants’ antennae are bent or “elbowed.”
  • Wings: Both insects have four wings, but termite wings are of equal size, while carpenter ants have larger front wings and smaller hind wings.

2. Diet

Carpenter ants and termites have different feeding habits, which play a significant role in the damage they can cause to your home:

  • Carpenter ants: They don’t eat wood. Instead, they chew through wood to create tunnels and nests, while their diet consists of dead insects, honeydew (produced by aphids), and sugary foods.
  • Termites: Termites primarily feed on cellulose, an organic material found in wood. They can cause severe structural damage to homes as they eat away at wooden structures.

3. Habits

Understanding the habits and behaviors of carpenter ants and termites can further help you distinguish between these two pests:

  • Swarmers activity: Swarming termites search for a new area to nest during the daytime, while carpenter ants swarmers emerge during nighttime.
  • Colony size: Termites typically have larger colonies compared to carpenter ants.

By considering their appearances, diet, and habits, you can better identify whether you are dealing with carpenter ants or termites in your home.

Damage Caused

Carpenter Ant Damage

Carpenter ants can cause damage to wooden structures in your home by boring into the wood to build their nests. Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t actually eat the wood, so the damage they cause is a result of excavation rather than consumption.

However, signs of carpenter ant damage may include:

  • Wood shavings or sawdust near the infested area
  • Hollow-sounding or weakened wooden structures
  • Visible holes in the wood where carpenter ants have entered

Keep in mind that carpenter ant damage tends to be localized and slower to develop compared to termite damage, as their primary focus is on building nests rather than feeding on the wood.

Termite Damage

Termites, on the other hand, cause damage by eating wood and can create significant damage within just two to four years.

As termites eat through the wooden structures, they weaken the structural integrity of your home, potentially leading to costly repairs. Signs of termite damage may include:

  • Mud tubes on exterior walls or foundations
  • Discarded wings or droppings near infested areas
  • Soft or warped wood that sounds hollow when tapped

Termites can cause more extensive damage than carpenter ants, as their primary objective is to consume wood for sustenance. Since they eat the wood, their destructive capabilities are much greater and can occur much more rapidly.

Remember, if you suspect either carpenter ant or termite damage in your home, it’s essential to seek professional help as soon as possible for proper identification and treatment to prevent further damage.

Detecting Infestations

Detecting infestations of carpenter ants and termites is important to protect your property from potential damage. In this section, you will learn the signs of both carpenter ants and termite infestations and how to differentiate between the two.

Signs of Carpenter Ant Infestation

When you are trying to detect a carpenter ant infestation, keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Frass: Look for small piles of sawdust-like material near any wooden structures. This is the waste left behind by carpenter ants as they carve tunnels through the wood.
  • Noise: Listen for faint rustling or chewing sounds coming from your walls or wooden structures in your house. This could be a sign of carpenter ants at work.
  • Moisture: Inspect areas with moisture issues, as carpenter ants are attracted to damp or wet wood. Check for leaks or water damage that could be inviting these pests.

Signs of Termite Infestation

Termites can be more destructive than carpenter ants, so it’s crucial to know the signs of their presence. Be on the lookout for these indications of a termite infestation:

Termites building a mud tube on wooden wall of a room / Termite problem in house concept
  • Mud tubes: These pencil-sized tubes are made of soil, wood, and termite droppings, and are used by termites to move from the soil to your home’s wooden structures. Check the exterior foundation and crawl spaces for mud tubes.
  • Swarming insects: Termites typically swarm during the daytime in search of a new nest. If you spot a swarm of winged insects near your home, look closely at their antennae and bodies to determine if they are termites or ants.
  • Damaged wood: Termites consume wood from the inside out, so if you notice any wood that sounds hollow when tapped or appears to be crumbling, it could be a sign of termite damage.

Keep in mind that while both carpenter ants and termites can cause damage to your home, termites typically do so much more quickly. By staying vigilant and knowing the signs of both infestations, you can make sure to act promptly in case an infestation is spotted.

Pest Control and Prevention

Getting Rid of Carpenter Ants

To effectively get rid of carpenter ants, start by eliminating the conditions that attracted them to your home. Inspect your property for any damp, rotting wood or potential nesting sites.

Repair leaking pipes and roofs and ensure proper drainage to keep the area dry. Seal any cracks and crevices in your home’s foundation, and trim tree branches that are touching your house.

For additional methods, consider the following:

  • Using ant baits: Strategically place ant bait stations along their foraging trails. The worker ants will carry the bait back to their nest, eventually killing the colony.
  • Chemical insecticides: Apply chemical insecticides around the perimeter of your home to create a barrier that prevents ants from entering.
  • Professional help: If you’re unable to manage the infestation on your own, consult a professional pest control company for proper carpenter ant control solutions.
Our Pick

Carpenter Ant Kit


If you need to get rid of carpenter ants then this kit will work for you. It comes with 12 bait place stations, bait from Maxforce, Temprid spray, and gel bait single tube.

Make sure you follow the directions and protect yourself when working with chemicals.

  • Ant bait kit has 2 unique baits to kill ants
  • Temprid knocks them down and it is a residual repellent
  • With ant bait, the ants spread it through the ant nest
  • Chemicals are toxic wear rubber gloves

Getting Rid of Termites

Unlike carpenter ants, termites require professional intervention for effective control. Early detection of termites is critical to prevent extensive damage to your property. Look for signs such as mud tubes, discarded wings, and damaged wood.

Some measures you can take to prevent termites include:

  • Reducing moisture: Keep the area around your home’s foundation dry by repairing leaks and ensuring proper drainage. Install moisture barriers in crawl spaces and basements.
  • Wood treatment: Treat the wood in your home with termite-resistant chemicals to discourage infestation.
  • Physical barriers: Install physical barriers, such as metal termite shields, during the construction of your home to prevent subterranean termites from gaining access.

In my old house, I found termites in the mulch of the flower bed by the house. Back then I did not know as much about pest control. I had a pest control guy I know and asked him to check out the bugs to make sure they were termites.

He came out and told me it was termites. He then walked around the home inspecting it to see if they had gotten into the house yet. Luckily, they had not entered the home yet.

He gave me a price and I asked him what he used while talking. He said he used a chemical called Termidor SC. I said thanks and went online to find it myself to save $1200.

Our Pick

Termidor SC


Introducing Termidor SC, a remarkable solution for professional termite control and safeguarding your home against future infestations.

With its unique Suspended Concentrate formula, Termidor SC not only delivers exceptional termite protection but also serves as an effective DIY pest control product, eradicating ant colonies and various other insect pests.

  • Used to Kill Termites
  • Creates a termite barrier
  • Can kill ant colonies


  • Outdoor use only


In comparing carpenter ants and termites, it’s important to note the differences between these two pests. While both can cause damage to your home, their habits, life cycles, and signs of infestation can vary.

Carpenter ants tend to focus on areas where there is moisture and can be seen scurrying around. They cause damage by excavating wood to create nesting sites but do not eat the wood.

On the other hand, termites consume wood as their primary food source and can create significant damage within two to four years.

To sum up, the following key points can help you differentiate between carpenter ants and termites:

  • Carpenter ants focus on moist areas and do not eat wood
  • Termites consume wood and can cause significant damage quickly
  • Termite workers live longer than carpenter ant workers
  • Swarming termites are active during the day, while carpenter ants emerge at night

By understanding these differences, you can take appropriate measures to prevent and address infestations in your home.

It’s crucial to act quickly and consult with a professional exterminator if you suspect either carpenter ants or termites to protect your property from potentially significant damage.

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