What is the Difference Between a Carpenter Ant and a Termite??

What is the Difference Between a Carpenter Ant and a Termite??


While working on people’s homes and businesses, it is not unusual for us to encounter insect damage, either actively occurring or from some time in the past.


Most often this damage is done typically from Carpenter Ants or Termites.



It is not unusual for people to unintentionally use the terms ‘Carpenter Ant’ and ‘Termite’ interchangeably when describing or referring to the type of damage they have incurred.

While I totally appreciate this, especially in the heat of the moment when a massive amount of insect damage has surprisingly been uncovered on someone’s property, it is obviously incorrect as they really are two different types of insects that are definitely distinct from each other.

There are at least a few similarities in that both Carpenter Ants and Termites swarm while mating (swarming is the only time that both Carpenter Ants & Termites have wings), are attracted to moisture about your property, and cause damage to wood as we have mentioned.

There are absolute differences between the two however.

Carpenter Ants DO NOT eat wood, instead they make their homes in the wood by burrowing, creating tunnels, and the like; one may often recognize Carpenter Ant damage by the wood shavings they leave behind.

Termites on the other hand, actually eat the wood (they need the cellulose contained in the wood to survive), they certainly would not leave any shavings behind.

Carpenter Ants will wander about looking for food (their diet consists of sugars & proteins), you may very well see them gallivanting around your property as they are hunting for food.

Termites may not ever be spotted (unless you happen to encounter a swarm), you are more likely to see signs of termite damage than actual termites.

Finally, their body types are both very different.

  • Carpenter Ants have a narrow waist, segmented elbow antennae, and, when winged, have large forewings & small hind wings.

  • Termites have a broad waist, straight, bead-like antennae, and, when winged, have two sets of wings that are uniformed in size.

Whether you come across Carpenter Ants or Termites when working in or on the outside of the home, it is NEVER a fun situation.

Knowing a little bit about their similarities and differences though, could be quite helpful in navigating through the process of how to correct things.



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