Differences Between Termites And Carpenter Ants!

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There are a few key differences between termites and carpenter ants that homeowners should be aware of. The main reason why you, as a homeowner, should be aware of these differences is that these pests affect your home in different ways. Keep reading to understand these differences!

What are carpenter ants?

carpenter ant

Carpenter ants are a genus of ants in the family Formicidae. There are over 700 species of carpenter ants, and they can be found all over the world.

Carpenter ants essentially get their name from their tendency or behavior of building their nests in wood. They can damage wooden structures and furniture by boring into the wood to make their nests.

That said, carpenter ants, unlike termites, are not restricted to living in wooden structures. These bugs can be found in various environments, including moist woods, tree roots, dead woods, tree logs, and tree stumps.

Carpenter ants, unlike termites, do not exactly eat the wood that they destroy. They leave a dust residue behind called “frass.” This residue is composed of bits of wood, soil, and other debris.

What are termites?


Termites are a type of soft-bodied social insect that belongs to the order Isoptera. They play an important role in the environment by breaking down dead plant material and returning nutrients to the soil.

There are various different types of termites, each with its own unique characteristics. Termites are a specific type of ant that builds their nests by chewing wood. They can also move up to the reproductive stage with wings, allowing them to spread their colonies more easily.

On the other hand, carpenter ants are a species of ant that is native to North America. These ants get their moniker from their tendency to nest in and eat wood.

Carpenter ants are different from termites in many ways; for example, they have a four-segmented waist while termites have a three-segmented waist.

What are the differences between carpenter ants And Termites?

The primary distinction between termites and carpenter ants is that the latter prefer to make their homes in wood rather than eating it. Carpenter ants do this by digging small tunnels and constructing galleries in damp wood.

Bodies are shaped differently.

Carpenter ants and termites are two common types of home pests. They both have different shapes and sizes, which can be helpful in distinguishing between the two.

Termites and carpenter ants have different shapes that reflect their different functions. Termites, as a general rule, have more broad “waists” because they need to be able to move around in large numbers to consume wood.

On the other hand, Carpenter ants are narrower because they don’t need to move as much and can focus their energy on damaging the wood.

Antennae look different.

Though termites and carpenter ants share a lot of similarities, there are some distinct differences between their antennae. Termites have straight antennae, while carpenter ants have distinctly elbowed antennae. This is one of the many ways to tell them apart.

Carpenter ants have differently sized wings.

One of the easiest ways to differentiate termites from carpenter ants is by looking at their wings. Carpenter ants have a couple of wings that are different sizes, while termites have uniform-sized wings.

Carpenter ant wings are generally different in that their forewings are much larger than their hind wings. In fact, pest control experts often say that the easiest way to differentiate between carpenter ants and termites is to check whether their wings are uniform or differently sized.

Carpenter ants and termites have different diets.

Termites and carpenter ants are two of the most common types of wood-destroying insects. But, both these insects differ in what they eat in their diets.

For example, carpenter ants make their homes in the wood, excavating the shavings as they burrow further into structures. They don’t eat the wood itself. On the other hand, Termites typically eat away at the wood from the inside out.

The difference in how you’ll notice them.

There are different types of termites, and each one leaves different signs that you can look out for. For example, dry wood termites leave behind piles of wood dust, while subterranean termites eat the wood from the inside out and so their damage is harder to spot.

Carpenter ants, on the other hand, tend to burrow into the wood and create galleries which makes them easier to see.

Termites and carpenter ants may look very similar to the untrained eye, but there are a few ways you can tell them apart. For one, carpenter ants will be seen more often in human dwellings as they are attracted to moisture and wood.

On the other hand, Termites typically live underground and are rarely seen unless there is an infestation. Additionally, carpenter ants have a thorax that is evenly rounded, while termites have a slightly pinched waist.

The difference in what attracts both the pests.

One of the most noticeable is that carpenter ants are attracted to moisture, while termites are drawn to wood. Carpenter ants also prefer to build their nests in dead trees or logs, while termites will infest living trees, as well as wooden furniture and other structures in your home.

Termites, on the other hand, are actually attracted to wood. This is why they are often found in wooden structures like houses and buildings.

Carpenter ants, however, are not as interested in wood and can be seen wandering on window sills and baseboards, often in search of other food.

What are the differences between termites and carpenter ants in terms of behavior?

differences between termites and carpenter ants

There are a few key behavioral differences between termites and carpenter ants. Termites, as the name suggests, build mud tubes to travel through.

Termites create galleries inside the walls, while carpenter ants remove the wood to create nests outside of the walls. As a result, the damage caused by each party will look different from the other.

Carpenter ants do not build these tubes but instead only swim when the population of their nest reaches a specific size. Additionally, carpenter ants are more aggressive than termites and will attack if they feel threatened.

What is the difference between termites and carpenter ants in terms of the damage they cause?

Termites can cause more damage.

Termites and carpenter ants are both pests that can cause a lot of damage to wood. They both eat the wood, but they do it in different ways.

Termites eat the wood from the inside out, while carpenter ants chew the wood from the outside in. This means that carpenter ants leave a clean surface behind, while termites leave a messy surface with lots of holes.

Termites consume the wood in their environment, while carpenter ants only chew on it. Carpenter ants do not really eat wood, but they can cause as much damage as termites by hollowing out the wood to make their nests.

Termites can enter homes through small openings like windows, while carpenter ants usually enter through cracks in the ground or around the foundations of a home. Termites also prefer to eat wood, while carpenter ants will eat other types of food as well.

Termites are known to cause a lot more damage than carpenter ants. In fact, the damage caused by termites is not usually covered by homeowners’ insurance policies.

Carpenter ants, while they can still do some damage, are mostly considered a nuisance because they chew up wood but do not eat it as termites do.


This article makes it amply clear that there are multiple differences between termites and carpenter ants. In fact, these differences are not only physiological but also behavioral! If you do notice any signs of carpenter ant or termite infestation, be sure to contact a pest control professional.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.