How To Tell If It's Termites Or Carpenter Ants On Your Nassau County Property

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Carpenter ants and termites are both destructive pests to have inside your Nassau County property, and these two pests are attracted to similar conditions. Rotting wood and damp conditions can be a catalyst for property damage. If you're wondering if your property is being damaged, or you're wondering which of these pests you're dealing with, you've come to the right place. Here's what you need to know.

termite damage

When You See Damage

The termites in our area are subterranean. These insects rarely appear outside of their tunnels, and if they do, it is only for a brief time. One reason they stay inside their tunnels is that they get dehydrated easily. We're going to bring this fact up a few more times as we move through this article. If you see damaged wood, you're likely dealing with carpenter ants because subterranean termites will do the vast majority of their damage to the inside of wood. The exception is wood that is touching the soil or wood that is in a damp location.

When You See Mud

If you find wood damaged near the soil or in a damp location, you can tell which of these two insects is doing the damage. Subterranean termites will bring soil up into their tunnels and use a mixture of soil and saliva to keep themselves encased. Carpenter ants don't do this. So, when you find damaged wood or expose tunnels inside the wood, the presence of mud will let you know you've uncovered subterranean termites. The tunnels created by carpenter ants are smooth.

When You See Sawdust

Subterranean termites eat wood. They don't produce sawdust. If you see wood damage and a sawdust-like material present, you have a carpenter ant problem. Carpenter ants push sawdust, feces, and insect parts out of their tunnels. This material is called frass. You can find frass even when you don't see the damage. It can be pouring out of a crevice or gap or clinging to surfaces. When you see it, you should take quick action and call a licensed pest professional.

When You See Workers

If you do some renovation and uncover insects in your walls, it is very easy to tell termites and carpenter ants apart. Termite workers are a pale color. Carpenter ant workers are black or black and dark red. Termites are also quite a bit smaller than carpenter ants. Subterranean worker termites are ⅛ of an inch. Carpenter ant workers are ½ to ⅝ of an inch.

When You See Swarmers

While termite swarmers are black, like some carpenter ant species, there are many distinct visual differences.

  • A termite swarmer is ⅜ of an inch. A flying carpenter ant can be a little more than an inch. That's a big difference.

  • A termite swarmer has four wings that stack on each other. A flying carpenter ant has two wings on each side.

  • A termite swarmer's wings are rounded at the tips. A flying carpenter ant has a cleft between its wings.

  • A termite swarmer's wings hang quite a bit over the end of the insect. A flying carpenter ant's wing only hangs slightly past the end of its abdomen.

  • If you can see the body of a termite swarmer, you'll have a hard time distinguishing between its thorax and abdomen. Carpenter ants have three distinct parts.

Does It Matter?

Now that you know how to tell which of these insects is attacking your home, you may wonder if it matters. While it is certainly important to address either of these wood-destroying pests, subterranean termites can be far more destructive to your property. These insects can completely total your home without giving you any warning signs that you're heading for serious financial troubles.

How Do You Protect Your Investment?

It pays to have routine inspections from a licensed pest management professional. This is one good reason to contact Parkway Pest Services and invest in residential pest control. We can catch carpenter ants and termites before they eat into your investment. There are also termite-control products that can be installed to directly target termite colonies as they come to feed on your property. If you live in Nassau County, connect with us today. Our team is here to guide you in finding the right protection for your Nassau County property.


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