Telling the Difference Between Termites and Carpenter Ants

The Alvin Pest Control, LLC Blog

There might be nothing scarier to a homeowner than the threat of termites. These little pests can infest your home and, if not checked in time, do serious damage.

While most homeowners are well aware of termites and the damage they can bring, many forget that there is another insect out there that also attacks the wood in your home: carpenter ants. While these might not be as destructive as termites, they can still cause major damage to a home if left untreated.

The question, then, is how does a homeowner tell the difference? Below are some helpful tips that can help someone make an informed decision.


Carpenter ants and termites have, at first glance, a similar appearance. They resemble what someone might refer to as an “ant with wings.” Both of these bugs are ant-shaped, and they both have wings. In this case, the main difference is the size of the wings. Termites have much larger wings, which are as long as, if not longer than, the termite’s body. Carpenter ant wings are not nearly as long as this.


Another tell-tale sign is in the damage they leave behind. While both of these pests chew wood, they do so for very different reasons. Termites chew through the wood as part of their diet, and they need the nutrition that comes with it. Carpenter ants do not actually eat the wood they chew. Instead, they use it to help build their nests.

As a result, what they leave behind can look very different. When a carpenter ant colony infests a structure, they build their nests in the wood itself. As they excavate, they leave behind wood that looks like it has been finely sanded and polished. It’s almost like they’re sprucing up their home to make it look nice! If a homeowner finds wood that has this more polished, sanded look, then he or she is dealing with carpenter ants.

Termites, on the other hand, do not leave an area looking anything like this. The signs of termite damage include a layered look, and they will often be caked in mud, soil, and other debris. These bugs certainly aren’t cleaning up for visitors!


In either case, an infestation needs to be treated as soon as possible to avoid long-term damage. This damage is usually very costly to repair and also creates quite an inconvenience to the homeowner, which is why fast action is necessary.

If you think you are dealing with an infestation of one of these types of pests, would like to discuss diagnostic and treatment options, or if you would like to know more about preventing future attacks, please contact us at Alvin Pest Control today!