Wood destroying pests can be divided into four categories:
- Carpenter Ants
- Bark Beetles and Wood Borers
- Powderpost Beetles
Today, we are going to focus on mainly on termites and carpenter ants as these are two pests that frequently infest people’s homes and cause fear for damage.
Often individuals with ant problems quickly fear the insects are termites. Throughout the world, termites are undoubtedly the most destructive wood destroying pest, but carpenter ants are cavity dwellers and while their nests can cause moisture to rot wood. Carpenter ants do not eat the wood as they obtain no nutrition from it, so their damage is not as invasive or destructive as some termite colonies can be. Below are the distinct characteristics of each pest and their damage to help you determine which wood destroying insect you may be dealing with.
Meet the Insects…
TERMITES love to eat wood. Termites thrive in the warmth and can be bad news for your baseboards, window frames, and foundation. A study in 2000 estimated that termites cause $1.5 billion worth of wood structure damage each year in the United States alone. What’s worse is that a termite infestation can go undetected for several years if you are not careful. By this time irreparable damage could already be done to your home or property.
CARPENTER ANTS live in wood. Carpenter ants do not love to eat wood, and as their name suggests, they just make stuff with it — i.e. their nests. The good news is they don’t often cause quite as much damage as termites. The bad news? Well, the nests that carpenter ants build can still damage your woodwork. Plus, their presence could indicate bigger problems in an infested building such as leaks, poor drainage, or decay, considering they prefer moist, softer wood. The worst news? Carpenter ants have a similar diet to any other ant including trash, other bugs, and people food. With this said, they easily may start a picnic in your kitchen.
What do they look like…
Look at three things to verify between a TERMITE and CARPENTER ANT: the body, the wings, and the antennae.
Bodies: TERMITES have a body of uniform width from the top to bottom. On the other hand, CARPENTER ANTS are more narrow at the waist. They have a slim section that comes inward between their thorax and abdomen.
Wings: TERMITES and CARPENTER ANTS both have four wings, but take a closer look. Termites have paddle-shaped wings that are all the same length, and carpenter ants have pointed wings that are larger at the front than the back. Carpenter ant wings may also appear to have veins whereas it’s unlikely to be able to seen veins on termite wings. Also, if you spot, loose, broken wings near windows or wood, it is about certain to say you have a termite problem. Termite wings break off easily while carpenter ant wings do not.
Antennae: TERMITE antennae are straight whereas CARPENTER ANTS have “elbow antennae” that grow outwards before bending forward.
How can I tell if they are infesting my property…
Where should you look for TERMITES and their damage?
Take a look near or below wooden items on your property. Termites leave behind a much more uniform debris than carpenter ants. After termites consume the wood, they produce pellets that are generally all of equal shape and size and look similar to mud. Often termites will leave these pellets behind in tube formations or “mud tubes” on the exterior of walls and other surfaces. Other signs of termites include flying termite swarmers, discarded wings around windowsills, damaged wood, and bubbling paint.
Where should you look for CARPENTER ANTS and their damage?
Once again, take a look below wooden items on your property. If there is a carpenter ant infestation, there will typically be a pile of wood shavings gathering. These wood shavings, called “frass,” looks similar to pencil shavings. The pile of wood debris may also contain the remains of insects eaten by the ants. You can also try listening close to wooden items or walls as carpenter ants may make a faint rustling, humming, or crunching sound while termites are too quiet to be heard.
What should I do if I have a wood destroying insect in my home or office…
If you have a TERMITE or CARPENTER ANT infestation or even if you are unsure of which pest it is that’s bugging you, call 877-DEAD-BUG! When it comes to wood destroying insects, it is best to call in the professionals to resolve the issue quickly before more damage can be done. Black Diamond is a full service pest control company that can solve your problem and rid of your infestation, no matter the pest! It is important that you take care of the damage caused by carpenter ants and termites as soon as possible, as other time is can cause your foundation to crumble. Black Diamond can even repair the damage that these insects cause on your property as well!