Telling the difference between termites and ants can be a little confusing. That's because termites and ants, especially carpenter ants, share many similarities. Each year both of these pests invade the residential properties of Port. St. Lucie.
Carpenter ants and termites are both destroyers, and both cause significant structural damage to the interior and exterior surfaces of your property. If left unchecked, the damage caused by carpenter ants and termites can even affect the structural stability of your home.
Knowing the physical differences between ants, termites, and other insects is important. But, knowing when to call a pest control company can help you save your home and prevent further infestation!
Let's look at how to tell the difference between a carpenter ant and a termite. We'll also look at some of the things you can do to minimize damage and prevent ants and termites from continuing to make your Port St. Lucie house their home.
How to Tell Termites and Flying Ants Apar
We already know that both pests are destructive and closely resemble one another. Both pests have a similar body shape with bulbous chitin shells, and in some instances, both can have tiny wings
Many homeowners have incorrectly identified winged or flying ants as winged termites. Both insects live in large colonies and appear to have similar characteristics regarding home damage.
Even though they look similar, there are significant differences between these two pests. Spotting these differences may take some practice, but in no time, you'll see how these insects interact differently with the damaged wood in your home. Soon enough, you'll know whether you need to be controlling carpenter ants or termites.
Knowing these differences will give you a better idea of what to look out for and when to contact a residential pest control company.
Body Shape and Color
Although both insects can have similar body shapes, you'll notice some subtle differences with a closer inspection.
Carpenter ants and other ant species have a narrow midsection but different colorations and sizes. For example, fire ants are smaller, more aggressive, and are a reddish-brown color. Carpenter ants are typically black.
These pests have a wider midsection, and since there are many species of termites, they can be all kinds of different colors. Termites can be dark brown, black, reddish-brown, yellow, and even a light tan color. Knowing the color of the termite can help you determine which species of termite you have in your home.
Although both ants and termites are insects with antennae, the antennae don't look entirely the same.
Ant antennae have distinct elbowed antennae or bent antennae.
Unlike ants, termite antennae look as though they have balls or beads on the ends and are entirely straight antennae.
Wings are usually the most complex way to tell flying ants or winged ants from a flying termite. A reproductive carpenter ant and termite both have wings, and they use these wings to swarm from the colony.
Ants, flying ants, and termite swarmers take on similar appearances, and they have a few identifiers that will help you tell them apart;
Both insects have four wings - two wings per side.
Termites' wings are pretty much the same length.
Unlike termites, ant wings consist of two smaller hind wings and two large forewings.
When looking for ant or termite damage, you may find ant or termite wings. If all of the wings look the same, you are dealing with termite damage. However, if all of the wings are different sizes, you are probably dealing with carpenter ant damage.
It has long been a myth that ants live off a diet of wood. You'll notice wood shavings all over the place and think the ants are eating you out of your house and home. This is not true.
Carpenter ants will only chew away wood to make their homes. Carpenter ant nests are made by burrowing into wooden structures. The wood shavings you see result from their efforts to make their homes. Carpenter ants have a diet that consists mainly of other insects, nectar, and food debris left around the house.
On the other hand, termites are definitely eating the wood in your home. Termites eat wood, tree stumps, decaying wood, and paper fiber. They extract the cellulose within the wood for their diet.
Visibility is the best way to determine which pest is munching on your mantlepiece. Both insects act very differently when or if they want to be seen. Here are a few telltale ways to know who's causing all of that wood damage in your home.
However, one thing to consider is that with termites, it depends on the species of termite that has invaded. It may be challenging to spot an infestation of termites. They tend to avoid light, so you'll have to rely on some of these visual clues that these pests leave behind:
Discarded wings - Watch out for discarded wings collected around a specific area around the house.
Mud tubes - A mud tube is made from pieces of debris or soil and acts as a protective tunnel. This tunnel allows the termites to travel back and forth from their termite nests to their food source, safe from the weather and predators. Subterranean termites mainly create these tubes.
Droppings - Drywood termites will also leave "droppings" or "pellets."
Carpenter ants, on the other hand, are much easier to spot. The main reason for this is that, unlike termites, carpenter ants will have to leave their nests hidden away in your home's crawl spaces to look for food. They don't make tunnels, so they are easy to spot roaming across counters, walls, and window frames.
Moisture in the home is a sure-fire way to attract many pests, including termites and ants. However, beyond looking for water, the reasons they are attracted to your home are different.
Carpenter ants, and other ants, don't need to digest wood to survive, but they need it to burrow in and make their nests. Food debris like scraps left in a dog food bowl or crumbs on a counter will attract ants to your home. Once they know they can get an endless supply of crumbs in your home, they'll make their nests close by.
These critters are attracted to wood, paper, and pulp fiber for their diet. A house that is not appropriately sealed or has exposed untreated wooden surfaces will attract a termite. Wood debris or discarded lumber against or near your home will also attract termites.
Carpenter Ant and Termite Infestation Prevention Tips
If a carpenter ant or termite problem is left untreated, it can create many problems for you and significant damage to your home. Here are the best ways to prevent both of these pests from becoming problematic pests :
#1. Eliminate the Water Source
Remove any standing water or areas of moisture from inside and around the house.
#2. Cut Branches
Any branches or other plants that touch the house give carpenter ants and termites a direct pathway to your home. Cut back any branches or other plants that are near the house.
#3. Seal Cracks
Check for cracks around the outside and inside your home and seal them properly. Both pests will use these cracks to get into your home.
#4. Remove Wooden Debris
Remove any discarded wood, firewood, or construction material away from the house. These pests like to build their nests in this wood and then leave it and make their way into your home.
#5. Check Often
Do routine checks of your property. Examine both outside and inside walls. Carpenter ants are not shy and will show themselves to you, even on the kitchen counter. Once you see one, you'll know there are many.
Termites are harder to see, but by looking for mud tubes, pellets, wings, and other signs of a termite infestation, you'll know you are dealing with termites. If you suspect a carpenter ant or termite problem in your home, contact a pest control company immediately.
Contact Southeast Florida Pest Control in Port. St. Lucie
Dealing with a pest invasion is not fun! The wood damage alone can be costly and dangerous.
Our trained pest control specialists will correctly identify the pest and remove it from your home safely and effectively. Additionally, we can also use prevention methods, such as the Sentricon® system, an environmentally friendly pest control system scientifically designed to eliminate the termite queens and their entire subterranean termite colony.
Let Southeast Florida Pest Control in Port. St. Lucie help you get back to enjoying your pest-free home. Please call us at 772-272-8727 for a free quote or visit our website.