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If you see swarming insects and notice wood damage to your home, does this mean you have termites? Maybe. It could also mean that carpenter ants have made their way into your house. Each of these insects can do a great deal of damage to your home, but there are several key differences between them. Which is worse for your home? Let’s look at some facts about termites vs carpenter ants.

As mentioned, both carpenter ants and termites are wood-damaging insects. Interestingly, though, only one of these bugs actually eats wood. Carpenter ants eat other insects, but they chew through wood because they like to nest in wall voids, so they look for opportunities to easily gain access through holes or softer, wet, or rotting wood. Once they’re in, and their nests are established, they can become a nuisance in your home. If you have a carpenter ant infestation, you may notice wood that looks chipped or scraped or wood shavings near an entrance to a tunnel.

Termites don’t leave this kind of external evidence. What you may notice on the outside of your home, if you have subterranean termites, is mud tunnels. Subterranean termites need moisture to stay alive, and they build tunnels to help them move from the ground into a house without exposing them to the harsh sun. You might also notice dark pellets near the opening of a termite tunnel. That’s termite fecal matter that they clean out of their tunnels, leaving it to accumulate on nearby surfaces. Subterranean termites don’t need soft or rotting wood to help them gain a foothold in a structure, although they do prefer it.  Drywood termites can easily eat any available wood, even if it’s perfectly sound. Sometimes, Drywood termites can be found inside the interior walls of a house, or inside furniture will cause the wood to blister, peel, or become discolored. However, it’s also completely possible for termites to do a great deal of damage without leaving a trace of evidence on the surface.

Carpenter ants and termites are similar in that they swarm at certain times of the year. This is the behavior of reproductive ants and termites looking for mates and new nesting sites, and it generally happens in spring or summer, though it can happen at other times of the year as well. Both pests will work tirelessly to damage the wood of your home, 24 hours a day. Though they have strong jaws that can easily tear through wood, however, neither termites nor carpenter ants bite humans or transmit diseases. The damage they do to houses is enough: termites alone cause over $5 billion in property damage each year, according to the National Pest Management Association.

The best way to know whether carpenter ants or termites are causing your damage is to look at the insects themselves. Like other ants, carpenter ants have segmented bodies with narrow waists. Termites are broader throughout their bodies. Termite antennae are straight and look like small beads or balls. By contrast, ant antennae are elbowed. The wings of these two insects are different, too. Both have two sets of wings, only present on reproductive insects swarming away from the colony. Termite wings are uniform in size, but ants have two large wings in front and two smaller wings in the back. Sometimes a homeowner will not see the insects themselves, but just the discarded wings. A pile of wings that are all the same size probably belongs to termites, while different-sized wings are probably ant wings.

So, which pest is worse news for a homeowner? Neither is something you’d want in your home, but termites are the more destructive. Why? Because termites will eat wood regardless of its condition. Damp or dry, rotten or sound, they don’t care. They’ll keep munching away until the house collapses if given the opportunity. Whichever type of infestation you have, though, it’s important to call the experts to have it eradicated immediately. Termites and carpenter ants require different types of treatment, so it’s important to call for professional pest control to make sure that, no matter what is destroying the wood in your house, it is treated effectively and thoroughly.

If you’re looking for a reliable termite company in the Bay Area, look no further than MightyMite. At MightyMite Termite Services, we’ve earned a reputation as experts in California termite control. We perform termite inspections to ensure that your home is free of termites and work hard to help you keep it that way, using treatments that are naturally derived and have a low impact on the environment. We diagnose and treat infestations with the most effective methods and unmatched warranties, solving your termite problems the first time, with an industry-best “no call-back rate.” That, combined with our experience, technology, and highly trained professional staff, makes us the leading extermination company in the Bay Area. We understand that your home is your most important investment, so we work hard to provide excellent service, utilizing best practices to solve our customers’ termite problems in Northern California. For more information, call us today at 408.335.7053, email Info@mightymitetermite.com, or contact us through our website.