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Given the fact that both are associated with extensive wood damage, homeowners often mistake and confuse one with the other. But termites and carpenter ants are quite different from each other. There are several physical and behavioral differences between the two.
Termites have all four wings of the same size while in carpenter ants the front wings are significantly larger than the hind ones. The shapes of the wings are also different. Termites have paddle-shaped wings while carpenter ants possess pointed wings with a black tip. Termite wings do not show any darker vein structure while carpenter ants have a visibly noticeable dark vein running through the wing. Termites tend to shed their wings very easily while carpenter ants do not leave a trail of broken wings.
Both have antennae but carpenter ants have bent antennae while termites have straight antennae.
Termites have only two segments and a rather broad waist while carpenter ants have three segmented body characterized by a narrow waist.
Termite nymphs bear a close physical resemblance to the adults. The carpenter ants on the other hand undergo what is called a complete metamorphosis and go through a life-cycle of egg, larvae, pupa and then adult stages.
Termites actually feed on the wood they infest. Carpenter ants do not feed but decompose the wood into sawdust. Carpenter ants can be identified by a slight humming or rustling sound while termites cannot be detected in this manner.
Finally, even the galleries carve out the two organisms are different. Carpenter ants carve smooth and clean galleries while termite galleries tend to be rough and filled with hardened fecal material.
If you are not sure if you have carpenter ants or termites at home, it is best to consult with a professional. For more information about these pests, call Horizon Pest Control.