Table tops of solid oak and ash

Carpenter Ants vs. Subterranean Termites—Wood’s Worst Enemies

When you are in the thick of a subterranean termite or carpenter ant invasion, worrying about which has infested your home may feel a bit like worrying about seeing the forest for the trees. But neither bug is a welcome visitor to your home. Learn more about what an infestation looks like.

How they’re different

The main difference between carpenter ants and subterranean termites is that the termites (along with some other beetle larvae) actually eat wood for food—it gives them the nutrients they need. Carpenter ants only damage wood in the process of building their nests. A pest expert, such as your technician from Impact Pest Elimination, can tell the difference by looking at the damage to the wood in your home.

The other thing that somewhat separates the two insects is the amount of damage they cause. Carpenter ants may do less harm to the wood of your home than subterranean termites will, however, if left alone for long enough the carpenter ant nest still will have a serious impact.

Signs of an ant infestation

How can you know if your home has been overtaken by carpenter ants? The first sign would be seeing the insects around your home. Although carpenter ants have been known to forage for food a great distance from their nest, if you see these ants it’s still worth investigating with your pest control technician. In warm, wet climates, the ants will swarm. Another sign of a carpenter ant problem would be piles of wood shavings beneath any wooden items or parts of your home. Carpenter ants do not nest in dry wood; they prefer wood that has been softened due to moisture or decay.

Signs of a termite problem

Like carpenter ants, subterranean termites typically feed on wood that is wet or previously damaged. However, there are some subterranean termite species in Florida that are invasive enough to infest wood that is not damaged or wet. There are more than 50 species of termites found in the United States alone. When it comes to subterranean termites, they are typically found in the warmer, southern states.

Since subterranean termites actually burrow underground, you often find soil or mud gathered around the openings of their tunnels into the wood. Another sign of subterranean termites is the damage to the wood—they eat with the grain of the wood. Finally when warm, wet weather occurs, a colony of subterranean termites will send out a swarm of winged termites to mate, just like carpenter ants. The winged insects resemble flying ants, but they have four wings of equal size and straight antennas.

For either pest, prevention is the best remedy. Ask your Impact Pest Elimination technician about preventative techniques to protect your home and property.