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Do I Have a Termite or Carpenter Ant Infestation?Posted March 31, 2022

Telling the difference between termites – which are even sometimes referred to as white ants – and carpenter ants is a tricky proposition. While a picture of the offending insects might help, most of us don’t have the entomology expertise to tell the difference.

Worse yet, sometimes we need to try identifying the pest by the damage it is doing. So, what’s worse… a carpenter ant infestation or a termite problem? And how can you tell the difference?

Are Carpenter Ants Or Termites Worse?

Nobody wants to have carpenter ants or termites. When you find evidence of wood destruction in your home, most people deduce they have one or the other.

Carpenter ants are active in most of the continental United States and that includes Long Island. In fact, we have three different types of carpenter ants here. Eastern Black Carpenter Ants are among the biggest ants in the region. Smaller black carpenter ants and red carpenter ants are also prolific here. Likewise, we have termites that like to call the state home.

So, when you find wood damage, which should the homeowner be hoping for? While an ant colony can be super destructive, carpenter ants are usually easier to detect than subterranean termites. If you start spotting wood damage around the house, the hope is that it is carpenter ants.

Carpenter ants don’t eat wood like termites do, but they will find water-damaged wood and dig through it to form their nests. As carpenter ants create their tunnels, they allow moisture to get to other parts of the wood – causing more damage.

What Are the Signs of Carpenter Ants?

Much like termites, swarms can be a warning that you have (or are about to have) a carpenter ant problem. Swarms occur when a mature colony is sending off scouts looking for a place to establish a new colony. They indicate the presence of a mature colony nearby, so if it is swarming near your home or property, then it may be time to contact professionals to find them.

The other telltale indicator of carpenter ants is tiny holes in your wood structures with coarse sawdust near them. This sawdust – called frass – is a by-product of the ant’s tunneling and may also have dead ants or dead ant pieces in it as carpenter ants clear their nest of debris.

Carpenter ants, like subterranean termites, look for places where there is moisture. So your bathroom, kitchen, and places where standing water might collect are the first places to look for carpenter ants.

What Are the Signs of Termites in the Home?

Termites can easily infest a home without the residents realizing it. That’s why a yearly inspection by professional pest control experts is recommended. Still, it’s wise to be alert for indicators of an infestation such as:

  • SwarmersWinged termites, also known as swarmers, appear when seeking a food source – like your house – as part of forming a new colony.
  • Discarded wings – Swarmers will shed their wings after finding a new location. They’re typically found near windowsills and doors.
  • Mud tubes – Termites infest a home and have a colony nearby. Mud tubes are how they ensure they have sufficient moisture when traveling between the colony and the building that provides the wood for their food source. You’ll find mud tubes on or near a house’s foundation.
  • Frass – Termite frass is different than carpenter ant frass because termites actually eat wood. Termite frass is the droppings they produce as a result and looks like tiny pellets of wood.
  • Bubbled paint and hollow wood – Termites can cause serious structural damage, and bubbled paint can be a sign of their activity. Hearing a hollow sound when you tap what should be solid wood is another indication that termites are eating the interior of the wood.

Carpenter Ants or Termites? Call Fox Pest Control

At Fox Pest Control, we are experts at quickly eliminating termite and carpenter ant infestations. If you find frass, mud tubes, see a swarm, or just find winged ants in the house… it’s a good idea to reach out to professionals to discuss your treatment options. To get started, contact us today.

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