Am I Dealing With Carpenter Ant or Termite?

Know What They Look Like

Both carpenter ants and termites can cause significant damage to your home. These pests chew through wood and can cause thousands of dollars in damages to homes and businesses, so figuring out what you’re dealing with as soon as possible is key. Knowing the difference between the two can help you identify your pest problem and get professional help quickly. Let’s take a look at the differences between termites and carpenter ants so you can more easily identify each pest.

What do Carpenter Ants Look Like 

Carpenter ants can cause a lot of damage to the wood in your home or business. These tiny pests measure about ⅝” and are typically black, red, or a combination of the two with six legs. They live in colonies of up to 50,000 which contain one wingless queen and thousands of workers. Swarmers, those with wings, do not appear in a colony until it has reached a maturity of at least two years. Swarmers are carpenter ants that leave the colonies to mate and then go on to create their own colonies. Their winged appearance often has them mistaken for termites.

Where Do Carpenter Ants Live?

Carpenter ants love moist, rotting, or infected wood. They drill tiny holes into the wood where they expel debris and sawdust-like material as they dig smooth tunnels through it. The walls of their “galleries” within the wood are smooth and active. The galleries are kept meticulously clear of any debris. Often this debris around holes in the wood and the appearance of swarmers are telltale signs that there is an active carpenter ant infestation. 

What do Termites Look Like

The assumption among most is that if wood damage has been spotted, the cause must be termites. A common warning sign you may have termites is the occurrence of swarming. They swarm to create new colonies. You can identify swarming termites by locating discarded wings. In actuality, many people with termite problems don’t even know they have an issue until they go to sell their property or, of course, something really bad happens to the structure they are living in. Two of the most common termites are drywood and subterranean.

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites live inside the wood they consume. They make a variety of tunnels through the wood they inhabit and consume it along the way. They are often found in walls or pieces of furniture and stay hidden until the structure is compromised and owners get a peek inside. Things like cracked veneer and bubbled paint can be signs of a wood termite problem. These pests are identified as white to light brown and can measure up to an inch in length. They also have long, narrow bodies that are oval-shaped.

Subterranean Termites

As the name goes, these pests live underground. They create underground tunnels in moist soil and seek out wood as food sources – which is usually how they enter your home or business. As with drywood termites, you may not even realize you have termites in your house until it’s too late. If there is moist soil near the foundation of your home, or you simply haven’t pretreated your lawn, you could end up with a subterranean termite problem. Signs of damage can include bubbled paint, swollen floors, or a musty smell. These termites are creamy-white to dark brown in color and measure about ⅛” in length. They have six legs and a long, oval shape.

Prevention and Getting Help

The best thing you can do to avoid a wood-destroying pest problem is to be proactive. Make sure you’re taking steps around your property to limit the risk of a carpenter ant or termite infestation such as:

  • Storing wood away from structures.
  • Trimming bushes, shrubs, and trees away from buildings.
  • Treating wet, rotten, or infected wood. 
  • Reduce moisture in crawl spaces and around foundations.
  • Use mulch sparingly.
  • Get a general pest and termite inspection once a year.

Even when taking these proactive steps to avoid a pest infestation, many homes and businesses still fall victim. Contact professionals before you have a problem or as soon as you discover one. This can be critical. If you don’t have an active infestation, pest control specialists can devise a preventative plan. If you already do have an infestation, exterminators can map out how to help you handle it effectively and efficiently. 

Contact us today to get rid of termites or carpenter ants today!

Am I Dealing With Carpenter Ant or Termite? Professional Pest Control Services in Gilbert, AZ

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