Which Is Worse: Termites Or Carpenter Ants?

Wood destroying pests can damage your property worth thousands of dollars. Some of these pests include swarmer termites, flying ants or carpenter ants. In fact, the damage caused by subterranean termites is worth billions per year in the United States alone. This is why termite inspection is critical to keep your house safe from these pests.

Wood Damaged by Carpenter Ants

Difference between Termites and Carpenter Ants

Termites and carpenter ants may look similar from a distance but upon closer inspection, you can see clear differences between them. Starting with their body shape, a termite has a rectangular body whereas a carpenter ant has a well-defined waist. Another difference between termite and ants is their antennae. The former has straight, beaded antenna while the latter’s antennae are bent.

Here are other differences that separate termites and ants:


Frass is a good indicator of wood-eating pests. It refers to the tiny knockout holes, sawdust, and fecal matter that the insects like termites or ants leave behind.

Termites: Subterranean termites don’t leave behind any frass. They do not push out their fecal matter nor do they produce sawdust. Termites in house chew right into the healthy wood.

Carpenter Ants: They create the knockout holes and push fecal pellets and sawdust creating frass.

Presence of Scouts

Both carpenter ants and termites develop colonies and work together to grow it. The difference between the two is whether they send out scouts or not. Scouts are members of the colony who search for food sources.

Termites: Termites don’t send any scouts. That’s why a termite infestation can go undetected for years.

Carpenter Ants: They send out individual ants to find food. The scouts then alert the colony, after which the workers come out at night to bring food to their nest.

The presence of a scout could hint an infestation and you must get residential pest control if you see one.

How They Consume Wood

Termites: These consume any and every wooden item in the house. The termite damage is extensive as they can attack all types of wood.

Carpenter Ants: Carpenter ants don’t cause as much damage as termites because they do not consume wood. They just create tunnels to live in. They prefer softer wood.

 Infestation of Wood

Termites: Wood infested by termites have a rough and ragged feel which will be caked with mud. You will find a mud tube on the outer wall of the infested item.

Carpenter Ants: The galleries and tunnels created by carpenter ants are smooth, neat and almost have a finished appearance.

As you can see, there are quite a few differences between carpenter ants vs termites. It is better to get pest control done if you notice either of them.


Both these wood-destroying pests have swarmers.

Termites: The swarmer termites are not as noticeable as the carpenter ant swarmers. However, their wings are bright white which makes their presence quite obvious.

Carpenter Ants: The carpenter ant swarmers are more noticeable compared to the swarmer termites.

Numbers in Colony

Termites: A colony of termites includes different types of termites like flying termites and subterranean termites. They are present in millions which can cause severe damage in the house.

Carpenter Ants: A colony of carpenter ants can have more than 15,000 ants in it. They don’t cause as much damage as termites.

As soon as you notice them, call in for an ant and termite treatment.

Controlling Carpenter Ants and Termites

Call a professional for an inspection and get rid of them before they multiply. The damage caused by termites and ants can be quite severe. One sure-shot way of eliminating them is by calling in for a home pest control and considering regular pest inspections.

Author Bio:

When people find their homes and offices infested with pests, it is not uncommon for them to panic. Raymond Web has taken the task to educate people on pest prevention and control strategies helping them keep their surroundings healthy, safe and pest-free. Being the digital marketing manager for Take Care Termite and Pest Control, a top rated pest control service in Tracy, CA, he has an in-depth understanding of people and their pain points due to pests, which he uses in his content to educate.

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