Carpenter Ant Damage vs Termite Damage: Tips and Pointers


Carpenter ants and termites both have their differences. They look different, and both have different behaviors. But one thing they both have in common is that they are unwelcome guests that you don’t want living in your home.


As far as you are concerned, though, the biggest thing that sets them apart is their diet, what they eat. It’s important because what they eat determines what type of poison needs to be used to eradicate them.


So the first step that needs to be taken is to determine what type of pest you’re dealing with, and that requires basic knowledge to distinguish between carpenter ant damage vs. termite damage.


Once that determination is made, you can then move forward with a program geared towards getting them out and keeping them out.


Both will always exist in the natural world outside. They actually serve an important function in nature by breaking down dead trees, leaves, and branches.


That’s okay. What’s not okay is when they start in breaking down the wood in your home. That’s when they become a problem.


Look for signs of a termite infestation


The standard method used to look for signs of a termite infestation in a home is really quite simple. You don’t need any advanced knowledge or expensive equipment to do your own home inspection for termites, either.


All that’s required is a long pointed screwdriver and a small step ladder. That’s it. Then using the step ladder and this long screwdriver, you want to move around a building poking the wood in search of soft spots.


Start at the lower areas and then gradually work your way up, focusing around windows and where the wood is in contact or close to the concrete foundation or brickwork.


Another thing to look for is wood dust and small tubes made out of mud that begin at ground level, then travel up on the foundation to the wood structure.


Search the outside of your home well, then use a flashlight and the same screwdriver to inspect the subfloor of your home for soft spots in the wood and the thin mud tunnels.


They’re actually passages that termites use to travel between their underground dwellings and the structure where they eat.


Look for signs of a carpenter ant infestation


Determining carpenter ant damage vs termite damage requires different techniques in this instance. To begin with, carpenter ants are a bit more challenging to detect.


They don’t build the tell-tale mud tunnels leading from the ground up the foundation wall to the home. This is because they don’t live in the ground like termites do. Carpenter ants live above ground inside the wood structure.


Also, termites eat the wood in your home, while carpenter ants don’t. The damage they do is caused by them excavating or chewing through the wood to create living quarters.


So carpenter ants are occasionally detected by hearing them chewing away at wood inside a wall. It’s a very slight noise, so it’s usually when the top end of a bed is positioned up against a wall when they can be heard working.


Just like termites, though, carpenter ants prefer to focus on softer wood that has been degraded by fungal rot, so the screwdriver poking test can be used for looking for them as well.


Also, because carpenter ants don’t eat the wood, they discard it outside their entrance area in the form of tiny wood dust pellets to be on the lookout for.


Carpenter and damage vs termite damage: swarming clues


Being as stealthy as they both are, it’s not uncommon for a home or business owner to finally realize that they have a problem when they appear in a swarm.


If you see a swarm of them emerging from the walls of your home you know you have a problem because this is a behavior that’s brought about by the success of their colony.


Living in your walls has been so good that they have become cramped due to overpopulation. The nice thing about swarming, though, is that you finally get a good look at them.


Once you see where they are emerging from, you can then determine carpenter ant damage vs. termite damage. It’s then that you can begin to move forward to eradicate them.


Carpenter ants grow wings and emerge from the walls in the evening. Termites will also grow wings, but they tend to swarm in the daytime. The reason for this is that carpenter ants are nocturnal, and termites are not.


Termites are busy during the daytime hours while carpenter ants do their business at night. Carpenter ants also have large dark heads, while termites tend to be lighter in color.


Treatment for carpenter ant damage vs termite damage


Don’t lose track of the fact that carpenter ants and termites can both be living in your home. So if you suspect that one or possibly both are making meals out of your home, you may want to consider bringing in a professional pest control service.


You can have a go at DIY treatment, but there are a few things to consider first. Number one is that licensed professionals have access to treatment products that are unavailable to the general public.


They’re more effective, and that alone is important. Then another thing to consider is that if you are putting your home up for sale, verification that it was inspected and treated by a professional service will enhance its marketability.


That versus you explaining that you did it all with your handy screwdriver and something that you bought at the local hardware store.


Then the final consideration is that with a DIY treatment, you will need to wait for time to pass to determine if your efforts have been effective. All the while, they can be continuing to eat away at your home.


A few final pointers:


While you are busy making a determination as to whether it’s carpenter ants vs termite damage you are dealing with, it’s important to know that they both rely on water to survive.


Damp ground around your home is just asking for trouble. So you may want to consider that lush irrigated landscaping right up against your home might be contributing to your problem. Also, if you have any leaking pipes or faucets, they may be part of the problem as well.