Termite Damage vs. Carpenter Ant Damage

Whether you have termites or carpenter ants, it’s bad news. But how do you tell the difference? There are many similarities, and sometimes even professionals have difficulty determining the species.

Some similarities:

  • Both have 6 legs.
  • Both have 3 body segments.
  • Both tunnel into wood, destroying its structural integrity.
  • Both can cause thousands of dollars of damage if left unchecked in your home.

So, what are the differences?

There are some tell-tale differences between termites and carpenter ants, including the frass and the antennae.

The Frass:

This is the debris that is pushed out of the galleries

Carpenter ants will push out wood shavings or insulation with bits and pieces of insect bodies. (You can see the insect parts: legs, wings, and bits of exoskeleton with your naked eye.) This is because carpenter ants are carnivorous. They do not eat wood, but excavate it to form the galleries they live in.

Termite frass will not have any insect parts and will not include any wood shavings. This is because termites are vegetarians. In fact, they only eat wood or products containing wood, like cardboard, paper, and some fabrics. Some termites will push out their fecal pellets, which are small (1/25″) elongated pellets with six sides, and grooves separating the sides. In our region (northern California), the most common termite doesn’t push out any frass at all; instead they use it to line their galleries and glue fragments of soil together to create tunnels.

Photo of Carpenter Ant frass

Photo of Carpenter Ant frass

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of termite frass

Photo of termite frass

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Antennae:

There are other differences between the bodies of ants and termites, but the antennae never lie. Carpenter ants have smooth antennae that have a 30° bend in them. Termites have antennae that appear beaded and are gently curved along the entire length.

Photo of carpenter ant antenna

Photo of carpenter ant antenna

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of termite antennae

Photo of termite antennae

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, whether you think you have carpenter ants or termites, you should call a professional to not only assess what type of wood-destroying insect you have, but to design an effective and guaranteed method of eradication. Rocklin Pest Control Services will do this assessment for free.

And, if the annoying insects have caused damage to your home, we are licensed structural repair contractors and have experienced carpenters who can fix your home and leave it like nothing ever happened.

Don’t lose sleep over carpenter ants and termites! Call Rocklin Pest Control Services today and get peace of mind. The inspection is FREE!