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The difference between termites and carpenter ants

Carpenter ants and termites have a lot more in common than most people would think – especially when it comes to pest control services. Termites and carpenter ants are, in fact, responsible for a large chunk of residential pest control house calls each year. This is because both are wood destroyers, and can cause serious structural damage to property.

As any local pest control company will tell you, termites and carpenter ants will destroy the wood and interior of your home if left unchecked. This can lead to expensive-to-fix damages that threaten the stability of your home. Both pests cause extensive dollars each year in wood damage and can only be eliminated via pest control specialists – carpenter ants and termites are both skilled at hiding their presence within a home.

Not only do these pests both love wood, they are also similar in appearance, with bulbous chitin shells and, in some cases, small wings, which many homeowners have mistaken carpenter ants for termites. Despite their similarities, however, there are basic differences between termites and carpenter ants. By knowing these differences, you will have a better idea of what to look out for when it comes to residential pest control. Rentokil shares more on the species difference and the options to eradicate pests.

Debugged Blog Learn The Difference Between Termites And Carpenter Ants Different Outlook

Termites and Carpenter Ants Have Different Outlook

Firstly, one main difference between termites and carpenter ants is the body shape. Termites have a head and a thorax; whereas ants have a head, thorax and abdomen. Secondly, termite wings are usually much longer than ant wings – about double the length of the termite body. In addition, ant wings are only slightly longer than the ant body. Thirdly, in terms of their antennae, both species are different such as termites are straight whereas ants are bent. Finally, termites do shed wings, and in some instances, homeowners might think they are just dusts or debris.

Read also: Is that flying termites or ants in your house

Debugged Blog Learn The Difference Between Termites And Carpenter Ants Food Source

What do Termites and Carpenter Ants Feed On?

Both termites and carpenter ants will munch on the wood in your home. The difference is that wood is a source of nutrition for termites. Carpenter ants, however, cannot digest wood cellulose; instead, they burrow into wood to create a shelter where they can nest.

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to pest control: Termites and ants both need access to water and will thrive in a moist environment. Indeed, carpenter ants cannot eat solid foods – they depend on moisture to make small bits of food edible. One way to deter both of these pests is to repair all leaks and moisture issues right away such as leaky faucets and poor drainage. In addition, keep surfaces dry by adopting diligent housekeeping and cleaning regime.

You may also like: Do you know water attracts pests?

Debugged Blog Learn The Difference Between Termites And Carpenter Ants Infestation Signs

Signs of Infestation between Termites and Carpenter Ants

Building their termite and ant colonies

Both termites and ants can and will live inside the wood in your home. Carpenter ants build their nests in various wood sources, including tree stumps, fence posts, firewood or landscaping. They prefer to attack wood that is wet, damp or damaged. They are often found in damaged window and doorframes, crawl spaces under roofs, chimneys, sinks and bathtubs.

Subterranean termites live in underground colonies and can contain up to two million members. They build tunnels or “mud tubes” to reach food sources, like your home, and to protect themselves from open air. Other species such as the Dampwood termites are usually found in logs, stumps, dead trees, fence posts and utility poles. Lastly, the Drywood termites infest dry wood, like that found in attic framings, structure beams, panels and built-in carpentries.

Difference in termite and ant infestation signs

One of the biggest differences between carpenter ants and termites is the way they create tunnels and galleries. Carpenter ants create tunnels and galleries that are very neat, smooth and have a finished appearance. Termite galleries and tunnels will have a rough and even ragged feel that caked with mud. Often, you will see the mud tubes created by termites on the outer walls or foundation.

Termites are known as “silent destroyers” because of their ability to chew through wood, flooring, and even wallpaper undetected. Similar to termites, carpenter ant infestations often go unnoticed until it is too late. However, unlike termites, carpenter ants can take years to cause significant damage. Termites on the other hand can cause expensive repair and renovation to various fixtures and structures in the home. Hence, it is critical to get rid of termites before the infestation turns serious and destroy the home further.

Debugged Blog Learn The Difference Between Termites And Carpenter Damages From Termite Infestation

Damages arising from termite infestation

So how exactly are the damages caused from termite infestation that result in extensive investment in terms of repair?

  • Papery or hollow sounding timber - When termites consume timber, they eat from the inside out, leaving a thin veneer of timber or paint. When you knock or tap on an area that has termite damage, it will sound hollow or papery.
  • Your vacuum goes through the skirting board - As termites have eaten away the structural integrity of the timber, such as an eave or windowsill, bumps or pressure against them will easily cause damage.
  • Tight fitting doors or hard to open windows - With subterranean termites, as they devour timber, their excrement, or "mud", creates a protective environment which traps heat and moisture. This causes timber to swell, making it harder to open a window or close a door.
  • Sand or pellets in unexpected places – One of the tell-tale signs of drywood termite is the small and sand-like pellets that appear in windowsills, doorjambs and furniture. These coarse grains of sand are actually termite fecal pellets sifting out of wood members.
  • Cracks in the cornice or door jams - As termites eat away the timber in your walls or door jams, it causes a loss in structural integrity and cracks will begin to form.
  • Termite mud – Subterranean termites create ‘mud’ tunnels to provide themselves with safe passage to travel or to protect their food sources. This mudding is often hard to see as it is hidden behind your property’s sheet rock or underground, but can sometimes be noticed in the property’s brick foundations, along baseboards or in cracks and crevices
  • Piles of wings near light sources - The alates of drywood termite will pair up and leave the colony to find new locations, thus discarding their wings. Locations are typically near a window, television screen where there is a light source.

Where to look for signs of termites in your home?

Particularly, in a home where there are hotspots that house all sorts of pests, exactly where can we zoom into in terms of termite presence?

  • Roofs - Broken tiles create moisture that attracts termites, and can provide a gateway into your property. Prevent termites by ensuring the roof is dry and repair all cracks promptly.
  • Air conditioning units – Termites favour moist environment, thus making areas around these units a perfect environment for them. Ensure there is moisture release of the units and are away from the foundations of your home. In addition, get rid of any condensation and moisture build-up.
  • Wooden beams - Regularly check regularly for signs of termite damage by pressing your thumb against the timber to check if it feels spongy.
  • Boxes – Termites feed on cellulose such as cardboards, thus with many cardboard boxes lying around can attract a termite infestation. You can store items in plastic containers instead.
  • Wooden flooring - Being close to the ground, wooden floors can be a literal stepping-stone for subterranean termites to gain access into your property. Carry out regular termite inspections for termite activity. When building new extensions, lay down termite barriers to protect your home.
  • Wooden furniture - Keep furniture away from walls of your property. Opt for items made of metal or plastic and good to sun your wooden furniture if you notice any potential termite signs.
Debugged Blog Learn The Difference Between Termites And Carpenter Ants Species

What do you need to know about carpenter ants?

The two main common carpenter ants species includes the swarmers and workers. Swarmers, also known as winged ants, leave their colonies to mate and start their own colony. The workers that carry a number of duties. They include providing food for the queen and larvae and defending the nest.

Signs of carpenter ants to look out

They usually emerge from baseboards, window molding and vents and typically appear in large numbers. This resembles one telltale sign of an ant infestation. They live in nests and there could be multiple nests including the parent and satellite nests. These nests are often found outdoors such as stumps, firewood, rotting fences while some workers can also be found indoors.

  • Sawdust – Piles of wood shavings mixed with insect parts or insulation
  • Noise – Crunching sounds that is an indicator of ants tunnelling through the wood
  • Damaged Wood – Carpenter ants create smooth galleries in the wood as they tunnel
  • Foraging Trails – Ants use the same trail repeatedly as navigation

How do carpenter ants get into your home?

Like most pests that enter your home through entries and opening, likewise for carpenter ants who access through doors, windows, pipes, wiring, overgrown trees or shrubs that have a pathway connected to the home. In addition, they can also surface as they forage for food including sweets, sugar, grease, meat and eggs. Locations that you see them emerging include wall voids, hollow-core doors, basement and crawlspaces. Externally, at the yard, do remain vigilant among key risk areas such as tree stumps, rotting piles and timbers.

Damages caused by carpenter ants

They are similar to carpenter bees in that they use soft wood to create nests to lay eggs, store food and develop the young. Firstly, they leave behind sawdust through excavating the holes. Secondly, they weaken wooden structures and potentially cost extensive damage repair. Thirdly, ant-infested wood needs to be removed and replaced as they occur in joints and support beams that are crucial to a property structural integrity. Finally, as carpenter ants chew their way through wood, the damage will turn the inside of the tree trunk that resembles corrugated cardboard.

Having an ant problem in your home? Call Rentokil Singapore today

Debugged Blog Learn The Difference Between Termites And Carpenter Ants Termite Control

Resolving your termite problem with Rentokil

As termites feed on 24/7 daily, and the damages and financial impact they caused is detrimental, it is essential to either resolve your existing termite problem or start to protect your home with long-term termite treatment.

Termite inspection through Microwave technology

Termites are not easy to spot and detect because they largely live underground and unless with professional tools and expertise, it is most challenging to spot these complex pests. The only times where individuals can see termites and their infestation signs presence is when the infestation gets too serious. Engage in professional termite inspection to detect termite activities with Microwave technology around the home.

Seven years warranty with long-term termiticide treatment

One of the most recommended solutions is to seek ongoing and long-term termite prevention to ensure termite colonies are eliminated. One of the features of Rentokil Initial Termite Control is the active ingredient ability to halt the termite muscles from feeding, thus preventing further damage to the home. It not only prevents termite from chewing off your home continuously within hours of their feeding, but is able to control the colony by spreading the active ingredient and eliminating termites within ninety days. What’s more, it is safe and environmentally friendly, thus optimises and safety of the family.

Termite baiting and monitoring unit

It aims to seek, bait and control termite infestation by using Microwave technology to detect termite activities effectively. It includes both above-ground and in-ground baiting units. The termites will feed on the bait in these units and spread to the colony. The active ingredient will then control the termites and halt their foraging process, and eventually kill the termites in the colony. The baiting units consist of cellulose materials to lure the termites, who in turn feed on the baits with active ingredients after the proactive monitoring.

Drywood termite foaming solution

For panels, beams and frames that are affected by Drywood termite, there is also a foaming solution by mixing the active ingredient. This prevents drywood termite from attacking the structures further. Termite specialists will inject at strategic points along the structure and pump the active ingredient in with a foaming agent to distribute the solution quickly and efficiently. However, if the infestation is heavy and spreads extensively, it may be advisable to replace the frames and panels instead. Speak to a termite pest control on the recommended options.

Call Rentokil Singapore at (65) 6347 8138 for a termite control today.

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