What Is the Difference Between Carpenter Ants and Termites?

What Is the Difference Between Carpenter Ants and Termites?

Knowing the common types of pests that can invade your home is a good place to start in preventing them from doing so, or recognizing if they have already.

Carpenter ants and termites are often mistaken for each other. But you don’t have to be like that.

In this article, we will cover the difference between carpenter ants and termites.

Keep reading to find out interesting info about termites and ants.

What Are Carpenter Ants?

Carpenter ants come in a variety of species. And we just don’t have enough fingers to count them.

They are members of the Genus Camponotus.

Of the Family Formicidae.

In the Order of Hymenoptera.

One of the reasons for their broad diversification comes from their ecological adaptability to various environments. As they can be found in moist woods, tree roots, dead woods, tree logs, tree stumps, and a variety of other places.

Sometimes they can live inside of the soil, especially when a part of a tree is buried under. Considering this, we can expect to see them both inside and outside of various types of wood.

Another signifying feature of carpenter ants is that they do not feed on the wood that they destroy for inhabitants. After building through the habitat, they leave wood dust residue, called the frass.

Also, carpenter ants are in symbiotic relations with Blochmannia, a bacteria of sorts. However, they are often in relations with Wolbachia as well. The ant serves as a breeding environment for the bacteria, while they receive essential amino acids from the microorganism.

As carpenter ants grow, they develop wings for their final stage of the reproductive age.

What Are Termites?

Termites have evolved over a course of millions of years.

They belong to the Order of Isoptera as well and are estimated to have over 4000 species. So far, half of them have been described in some form. Typically, termites are referred to as white ants, because of their body colour.

Also, they are soft and don’t have a distinct waist. They inhabit wood or soil, much like a carpenter ant. They are believed to be eusocial animals, which means they partake in complex hierarchical social organizations.

Their colonies are arranged in various castes, depending on size. For instance, nest workers, soldiers, and foragers. Both genders of termites can fall into any category.

A nest worker will care for eggs and make a nest by chewing wood. Foragers find food while the soldiers guard the home against attacks because they are often oppressed by other ants.

Any individual termite can move up to the reproductive stage with wings to mate with a female. Once the male finds a partner, the wings shall shed for the rest of their life.

Difference Between Carpenter Ants’ and Termites’ Behavior

Now that you have a general understanding of their visual appearance, we can take a look at some specific differences.

Termites eat the wood, as they can digest cellulose. Carpenter ants do not; they remove it to create a gallery or nest. Although both parties can establish galleries inside of a wall, termites often prefer mud mounds for shelter.

Of the two pests, only the termite will build mud tubes on exterior walls for easy travel between the nest and food source.

Both parties partake in an activity called swimming when the population of the nest reaches a specific size. This process encourages the establishment of new colonies. A termite swarm can consist of thousands of insects, while the carpenter ant swarm only has a couple hundred.

Also, the wood damage will look different from both parties, so let’s take a look at that in-depth.

Differences in Termite vs Carpenter Ant Damage

The majority of carpenter ants will establish the first nest in decayed wood and then move on to sound wood, wall voids, or insulation within a home. The wood will appear to have galleries chewed through with a finely sanded texture. They do it so well, it looks like a professional has sanded the tunnels.

The damage is not always visible, but you can expect to see ants’ inconsistent patterns around certain structures within the home. Outdoors, carpenter ant nests can be located in fence posts, firewood, dead trees, under stones, fallen logs, or the ground.

The parent colonies are usually outside. That means the ants in your home are secondary colonies. In the summer, satellite nests have mature larvae, pupae, and workers that establish themselves outdoors. Towards the end of summer, the winged ants will swarm. A fully-grown carpenter ant colony can consist of 10000 workers.

Termites, unlike ants, eat the wood. Particularly springwood because summer wood has a harder time being digested. The damaged wood will have a layered look to it. Soil can be found in the galleries, however, in high moisture areas, expect to see mud tubing.

A termite can find its way into a structure through the use of basement windows, siding, sills, headers, porches, and doorways. Or any other structure that is in contact with the soil or has a crack of less than 1 millimetre.

While they are often found beneath a frost line and above the water table and rock formations, termites will construct mud tubes to travel across environments they couldn’t regularly survive. The structures serve as roads between the food source and the nest.

A mature colony can range from 60000 to a million workers and can excavate and consume over 5 grams of wood per day. And it’s possible to have multiple colonies working on the same structure. Termites are predicted to cause over $5 billion damage each year. Unfortunately, this damage is not covered by homeowners’ insurance.

Differences Unhinged

Now that you have discovered the difference between carpenter ants and termites, you are well on your way to determine which of the two has occupied your home.

When it comes to pests, the best action is quick action. So if you’re interested in getting rid of them, get in touch with us and we will happily accommodate your needs Call (07) 5477 6675 or contact us with any questions.

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