Termites Or Carpenter Ants? How To Tell Which Of These Are Damaging Your Home

Termites and carpenter ants do pretty much the same type of damage to a home. They both will chew through old, rotting wood that has usually been damaged by water or some other type of moisture problem. The difference is that carpenter ants don't use the cells of the wood for food, but termites do. Carpenter ants are just there for the damage and to use the wood for nesting, but they aren't feeding off of it. There are other differences in these pests as well, and there are ways to tell them apart. No matter which of these pests is causing damage to your home, they both need to be exterminated right away before you are left with a home that is uninhabitable and in need of major repair. Read on for some differences between the two pests and what you can do about them. 

Winged Or Wingless

Carpenter ants don't fly, and none of them have wings on their bodies. They are just large black ants, similar to a cartoon ant that you see in picnic scenes, except instead of carrying an apple away from a picnic, they're chewing through wood and leaving sawdust in their wake. Termites can be either winged or wingless. You may see just the termites, which can appear similar in size to a carpenter ant, but their bodies are slimmer. You may also see the wings of the termites lying around if you have a major infestation.


Termites will make tunnels made from mud and sawdust in which to move to and from your home and to their colony. The mud tunnels appear similar to that of a mud dauber. They are durable and sometimes difficult to smash. Carpenter ants do not move in tunnels like this. You may see them on the outside of your home or moving on the exterior of a piece of rotting wood, but they do not move in mud tunnels.

Getting Rid Of These Pests

To get rid of either of these pests, you need to spray the area thoroughly with a pesticide to kill any pests that you do find. You will also need to remove the damaged wood and replace it. First, you'll need to remove all rotting or water-damaged wood in your home, then you'll need to repair the moisture problem that caused the damage in the first place, in order to prevent attracting either of these pests to your home.

If you have a problem with termites or carpenter ants, you should hire a professional to help you get rid of them right away before they cause any further damage. 

Contact a local pest control service to learn more.