What’s Causing Wood Damage in Your Home: Carpenter Ants vs Termites


In Gainesville, a home is the largest investment most families have. This means that anything that threatens that investment is a significant problem. Here in Northern Virginia, we have two wood-eating pests that regularly cause damage to local homes – termites and carpenter ants. Both of these insects create tunnels in the wooden frame and structure of homes, weakening them from the inside out.

Since the treatment for ants is different than that for termites, the pest extermination process for any wood destroying insect starts with identification. With a few basic observations, homeowners can often determine which of these two pests is living in their walls.

Carpenter Ant Appearance and Behavior

Like all ant species, the carpenter ant has a body composed of three parts with a well defined waist. They have a dark color or a reddish shade to them. Their antennae are bent almost at a right angle. Carpenter ants have wings for swarming. Unlike a termite, the ant’s forewings are larger than their hindwings, and both sets of wings are smaller in comparison to their overall body size.

Carpenter ants are not actually consuming the wood as they dig through it. Rather, they are building tunnels to live in and are only clearing wood out of the way. You will often find a pile resembling sawdust outside a carpenter ant tunnel from the wood they have dug through. Carpenter ants prefer to tunnel in wood that is rotting or damp and usually avoid healthy wood.

Subterranean Termite Identification

The species of termites we have in Gainesville are subterranean termites, named for their underground nests. These termites build their nests in the soil beside or beneath their food source. The workers then build mud tubes to protect them as they travel from the nest to the walls of your home where they feed. Termites use the wood for food, chewing tunnels into it and bringing the wood back to the rest of their colony.

The termites themselves are lightly colored because they do not enter sunlight. A termite has straight antennae and no clear waist. They have a more rectangular shape. On the swarmers, the wings are larger than the body of the insect.

Neither pest is one you want in your home for any length of time as the damage from both can be expensive and extensive. Damage can also happen continuously from the moment the swarm of termites or carpenter ants moves in during the springtime. Whenever you notice the signs of a wood destroying insect or want to keep your home protected with ongoing inspections, call ExtermPRO for expert carpenter ant and termite control.


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