Tiny piles of saw dust? Discarded wings? Swarming small brown bugs around your home? Without a doubt, you’ve got an infestation. But before you start treatment, you need to know exactly what you’re dealing with for the sake of your home: Are they termites or carpenter ants?

As carpentry subcontractors in Ocala, FL, we at Steve Allen Construction know a thing or two about woodwork and home building. We also realize just how much damage wood-destroying pests can do. Here we describe the differences between carpenter ants and termites, and how to deal with them in your home.

Physical Differences

Physical Differences

Because the control methods for carpenter ants and termites involve different processes, it’s important to be able to tell the difference. A carpenter ant has a narrow waist and antennae that are bent. They have two sets of wings, with the hind wings shorter than the front pair, although not all carpenter ants are winged. Termites on the other hand have much more rectangular bodies with straight antennae.

Carpenter Ant or Termite Damage

There are some key differences in the type of damage carpenter ants and termites create in your home’s wood foundation. Examining the damage closely can help you identify the type of pest you’re dealing with.

The important point to note is that carpenter ants do not eat wood like termites, but rather dig tunnels which serve as their home. Because of this, the hollows created in wood by carpenter ants are smooth and polished on the inside. Carpenter ants also create holes on the surface of the wood through which they can eject any debris. If you’re dealing with subterranean termites, the hollows will be filled with mud and dirt.

Different Debris

Different Debris

The debris left behind differs between carpenter ants and termites as well. Carpenter ants leave shavings that look like saw dust and wood shavings of different shapes and sizes. There will also likely be the remains of other bugs left behind as well, as they are the carpenter ants’ food source.

Termites leave behind much more uniform debris. After they consume the wood, they produce pellets that are of equal shape and size.

Take Care of the Damage

It’s very important that you take care of the damage caused by carpenter ants and termites, as over time it can cause your wood house framing to crumble. While carpenter ant damage may not be as bad initially, if the colonies of ants are left for too long they can become a disaster. Although you can identify what’s causing the damage yourself, we highly recommend using a professional when it comes to extermination.

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