If you are experiencing the swarming of tiny, dark insects inside your home and think you have termites, look again. You may actually have carpenter ants. Carpenter ants can be confused with termites because they are both small, dark, and have wings. However, there are definite differences between a termite and a carpenter ant. Both insects can cause structural damage; termites can cause excessive damage, and while carpenter ants can cause damage, too, they are more of a nuisance than anything else.
You can learn to recognize the difference between termites and carpenter ants by their physical appearance. Termites have:
Wings: Termites have four long wings that are the same size and fall off after they’ve left the nest. If you see piles of wings, then you probably have termites.
Antennae: Termite antennae do not bow or curve, they are almost completely straight.
Body: A termite’s body is shaped like a grain of rice. It is not noticeably segmented.
Wings: The carpenter ant’s front wings are noticeably larger than their hind pair. Swarmers (the reproductive ants) have two pairs of wings. You can see the dark veins in an ants wing, and sometimes a tiny black dot on the tip of the front wings. Termite wings appear perfectly clear.
Antennae: Ant antennae are “elbowed.”
Body: The ant body is noticeably segmented. Carpenter ants can be black or brown, just like termites, and are about one inch in length. The largest termites are about 3/8 of an inch long.
Signs of Infestation
The signs of termite or carpenter ant infestation are very similar. However, to verify an ant infestation look for:
- Winged ants (swarmers) in large numbers
- More than 10 ants a day in other rooms other than the kitchen
- Ants in your home when the ground outside is frozen
- Rustling, munching, or crunching noises coming from the wall, ceiling, or within a window sill.
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