Carpenter Ants vs Termites: Which One Causes More Damage◀ Back To Blog
February 19, 2015
Carpenter ants and termites can be difficult to tell apart. But there are distinct differences between them, how they can damage your home and the amount of damage they can cause. We’re here to help answer your questions about how to distinguish between them, how to protect your home and how to make them go away. So let's take a closer look at termites and carpenter ants.
Carpenter Ants vs. Termites
Knowing whether you are dealing with termites or carpenter ants will help you arrive at the most expedient solution. Carpenter ants and termites both present a risk to your home, but while either can cause considerable damage to wooden structures, the termite will invoke significantly more damage than the carpenter ant and will accomplish it in a shorter period of time.
One of the biggest differences between carpenter ants and termites is the way they create tunnels and galleries, knowing what to look for here will help you determine if the infestation is that of a carpenter ant or termite.
The tunnels and galleries of a carpenter ant will be very neat, smooth and have a finished appearance. Termite galleries and tunnels will have a rough and even ragged feel and will be caked with mud. You can almost always find a mud tube or tubes on the outer walls or foundation of the infested building. These tubes are formed right out of the ground, up the side of the foundation and lead to the location in which the termite enters. These mud tubes or tunnels going up the sides of the building are an immediate sign that you have termites rather than carpenter ants.
Carpenter Ant Damage vs Termite Damage
Make no mistake, carpenter ants damage wood. In fact they are one of nature’s most aggressive destroyers of wood. However, unlike the termite, carpenter ants do not actually eat wood. The carpenter ant causes damage to wooden structures by boring into the wood to build their nests. Because the damage is caused merely from excavation of tunnels and not a continuous supply of food, the carpenter ant causes less damage than the subterranean termite found in New York.
What Damage do Carpenter Ants Cause?
Unnoticed or untreated infestations of carpenter ants can, over a period of time, create significant damage. They target moist or softened wood and dig galleries in it to make their nests. This insect gets in through open vents, foundation cracks, or chews through rotted wood to create an entry point. If you have these ants living in your home, you'll know it. In spring, swarmers will emerge from your walls and head off to create a new colony. This doesn't mean the colony in your walls is dead. On the contrary, it means you have a very strong colony.
If the colony in your walls is weak, you won't see many swarmers, but you will see channels of ants going to pet food dishes and food that has been left out. If you only see a few ants here and there, the colony is most likely outside the walls of your home, and those ants are finding a way in. Straggler ants aren't too much to worry about, but if you see a super highway of carpenter ants, or swarmers, contact a pest control company. Carpenter ants can weaken structural beams in your home and create a repair nightmare. Each year these ants cause millions of dollars to homes in the United States.
How Can I Protect My Home From Carpenter Ants?
Protecting your home from wood ants is fairly easy. It requires sealing basement cracks, filling in rotted areas at the base of your home, and getting a treatment to keep ants from crawling up your exterior walls and accessing your exposed roofline. If you have carpenter ants in your walls, they can be hard to get rid of. It requires a trained entomologist to locate colonies and safely apply pest control products to infested wall voids.
How to Spot Termites
Like the carpenter ant, termites will swarm in spring. If you see swarmers crawling all over your home you're in trouble. While carpenter ant damage can cost homeowners millions of dollars each year in the United States, costs associated with termite damage can run into the billions. Termites are wood eating insects that can completely total a home in a few short years. Stop them as soon as you can by looking for swarmers, wood damage, and mud tubes on your basement walls.
Termites, like carpenter ants, will also build nests hidden inside the wooden components of buildings. However, in addition to creating a gallery of tunnels, they also use said wood as their source of food. Consequently, considerable damage is being invoked inside the structure without there being any outward, noticeable signs. Termites will also chew right through solid wood whereas the carpenter ants prefer moist wood.
What’s the Best Way to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants and Termites?
Proper identification of the culprit is vital in the method or choice of treatment. The need for accurate identification and effective termite treatment or carpenter ant removal calls for trained pest management specialists. Contact a professional the moment you suspect the presence of either one of these wood-damaging insects.
Since termites are able to ruin your home so thoroughly, and most homeowner insurance policies don't cover this kind of damage, this is not a situation where you want to rely on DIY solutions. If you discover termites, call Thomas Pest Services; we use the Sentricon Termite Colony Elimination System, which is a safe, eco-friendly, and effective way to eradicate termites.