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How to Tell the Difference Between Carpenter Ants and Termites

Whether you've got a sinking feeling after spotting a swarm of bugs or found damage to the wood in your residential or commercial building, you'll want to act immediately to deal with any infestation of wood-damaging insects before the destruction gets any worse. Although both carpenter ants and termites damage wood, getting rid of them requires different techniques, so proper identification is critical. How can you tell the difference between carpenter ants and termites?

Look at the Insect's Appearance

While carpenter ants and termites are similar in color and size, a closer look reveals distinct visual differences in the two species. A carpenter ant has a narrow waist and segmented antennae with clear bends. In contrast, a termite has a broad, boxy waist and straight antennae. Both species can be winged at certain points in their lifespan, and these wings also offer identification clues. Carpenter ants have larger fore wings and smaller hind wings. With winged termites, all four wings are uniform in size and shape.

Consider the Insect's Behavior

Termites might be social insects, but they tend to avoid humans, so it's rare to spot a termite unless you happen to see a swarm. Insects that you see on the prowl are more likely to be carpenter ants. While termites actually eat wood, carpenter ants only use it for shelter. They eat insects and a wide range of human food, so you may find them foraging in a kitchen.

Evaluate the Damage

The damage done to your property also offers hints as to the species responsible for the infestation. Carpenter ants make their homes in wood, so any tunnels they craft tend to be smooth and polished. They also carve vents so that they can push out their trash, which consists of dead insects and wood shavings in varying sizes and shapes. Termites actually feast on wood, and they aren't as neat as they harvest their dinner. They also leave debris behind in the form of droppings that are uniform in size and shape. In addition, you may see traces of mud and soil.

While termites tend to cause more extensive damage, the presence of either carpenter ants or termites is a serious problem for your residential or commercial property. If you suspect that one of these destructive pests has moved into your building, don't hesitate. Call a pest control professional immediately so that proper identification can be made and effective action taken to protect your property. A family-owned and -operated company serving Kansas City and the surrounding areas since 1995, Advantage is committed to delivering both top-notch customer service and comprehensive pest control services that are effective and environmentally conscious. If carpenter ants, termites or other pests are bugging you, contact us today.

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