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Ant VS Termite: What’s The Difference? (With Pictures)

Termite and ant season is upon us! Homeowners everywhere will start to discover during the summer months that their homes may just have an ant or termite infestation at bay. Both these infestations can take a financial toll on homeowners as well as their homes. 

It’s hard to tell the difference between a carpenter or flying ant and a termite infestation. They’re incredibly similar: they can have wings, they destroy your home’s wooden structures, and they have similar body shapes. Upon second glance, you’ll start to notice some differences. Here you’ll find the differences between ants and termites, along with pictures. 

Carpenter Ant

Mature swarmer ants have wings. These ants often get mistaken for termites or vise versa. However, it’s important to note these ants have four wings, but two wings are much shorter than the others. Carpenter ants also have elbowed or “bent” antennae and a segmented body with a thin “waist.” 

In addition to some physical differences, carpenter ants also have a lot of behavioral differences. Although both ants and termites destroy wood, carpenter ants only dig into wood. Carpenter ants do this to make channels or tunnels to their nests. They do not eat the wood, merely push the wood out through the openings. 

Because of this, carpenter ants will only go after moist and damaged, or dead wood. Their tunnels will often look clean or “finished” if you do stumble upon some of them. The best way to keep carpenter ants out of your home is to:

  • Get rid of ant dead or dying wood
  • Keep wooden structures dry 
  • Remove leftover yard debris and waste properly
  • Trim branches that reach over your home’s exterior

Swarmer Termite

Swarmer termites are also considered the “worker” termites in the colony. These termites are often mistaken for ants, as they have very similar looks. Unlike ants, termites have four wings that are twice as long as the rest of their body. Termite antennas are also completely straight, and do not have the distinct “waist” an ant has. 

Termites will eat at wooden structures, which can make them a much bigger problem than ants. These tunnels are more rough-looking than an ant tunnel. This is because termite tunnels are filled with layers of soil, mud, and waste.

Wood damaged by termites

The most defining feature of a termite tunnel is what are referred to as a mud tube. Mud tubes show previous activity of termites, and are often built outside walls and between soil and wood to act as new passageways.

To keep you home termite-free, exterminator’s recommend:

  • Fixing leaks immediately and filling crack with a strong caulk 
  • Ensure all soil around the home is dry and properly draining
  • Maintain proper ventilation in your home
  • Cleaning up yard waste and debris, and cutting overarching vegetation

What To Do If You Have A Termite or Ant Infestation 

Both of these infestations can do some serious damage to your home, and can spread incredibly quickly. Even with careful inspection on your own part, you can still mistake and ant for a termite. 

If you have an infestation, call an exterminator to assess the problem. Your exterminator can help you find an affordable solution to save your home’s wooden structures and foundation from ants and termites.