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The Difference Between Carpenter Ants and Termites

The Difference Between Carpenter Ants and Termites

Nobody wants to discover they have carpenter ants or termites in their house. Any unwanted pest or rodent invading your space can make you feel violated and totally frustrated. But, the damage carpenter ants and termites present to your home isn’t equal. Termites are far more destructive to your home and leave behind a wake of costly repairs. With that said, carpenter ants can still do their fair share of damage. 

Knowing how to effectively treat your infestation will largely depend on determining which pest you are dealing with. Let’s learn more about the signs and similarities of carpenter ants and termites so you can not only prevent an infestation but stop them permanently in their tracks.

Carpenter Ants and Termites: Physical Differences 

Termites and carpenter ants have a few distinct physical differences. Take a close look at the pesky perpetrator in your home and you will likely be able to determine which insect you are dealing with. 

  1. Wings 

Both insects have four wings. But, a termite has wings that are of equal size and shape and that are far longer than its body. Termite wings fall off easily which can often be seen near the opening of a termite nest and be useful when identifying an infestation. A carpenter ant’s back hind wings are shorter than its front wings and they don’t appear as long. 

  1. Color 

Termite workers are transparent, creamy white, and tend to avoid light. They are far less noticeable than ants and are rarely seen. Ant workers are dark-colored or sometimes reddish. They are easier to spot out in the open when they are foraging for a food or water source. 

  1. Antennae 

Carpenter ants have bent-shaped antennae while a termite’s antennae are straight. 

  1. Body Shape 

A termite has a rectangular-shaped abdomen with essentially no waist. The carpenter ant has a well-defined waist.

Signs of carpenter ants vs. termites 

  • Carpenter ants are often easier to detect than termites. They are forced to send out workers to search for a food source, since they don’t eat wood, and can be more easily spotted. Even though these ants are easily disposed of, don’t ignore what their presence means for your home. They are alerting you to the fact that your home is under attack. 

Termites never have to come out of their dwellings to find food so they can go long amounts of time without being noticed. This is why termites can go years without being detected. 

  • Termites eat wood and carpenter ants do not. They create tunnels through your wood and establish galleries. So, carpenter ants have to find a way to get rid of the sawdust they create. They will create holes to push out their frass or droppings. While termites also create frass, it is actually excrement, not sawdust. 
  • Termite galleries and tunnels will often have a rough or rugged feel and can be caked with dirt and mud. Check the outer walls of your foundation for the mud tubes they create. 

The tunnels left behind by carpenter ants are very different in that they are smooth, neat, and have a finished appearance to them. 

Carpenter ants frass vs. termite frass 

The droppings of carpenter ants and termites are called frass. Being able to determine which kind of droppings you have in your home is very important in alerting you that your home could be being destroyed by these pests. Termite droppings can be described as hard, small pellets usually dark brown or tan in color. Since termites eat wood, the excrement they kick out of their galleries consists only of oval-shaped fecal pellets. 

When carpenter ants dig into their choice of moist or rotting wood, they create small slits to lead to the surface. The ants then push their frass through these tunnels out to the surface creating piles of debris. This debris looks like wood shavings and forms piles in the shape of cones. Ant frass can include a variety of materials consisting of ant droppings, soil particles, wood fragments, and even insect body parts or carcasses. 

How to prevent carpenter ants vs. termites 

There are several things a homeowner can do to prevent carpenter ants and termites from invading. 

For termites, start by reducing the soil to wood contact around your structure. Also, create at least a 4-inch barrier between your home and any mulch surrounding it. Be sure to remove any wood, wood plants, cardboard, or mulch from around your foundation. Routinely check for any areas of moisture. Underneath sinks, attics, and basements can become the perfect area for termite nesting. Turn off outdoor lights at night as light attracts the swarmers. It is also a good idea to direct storm drains to empty at least a few feet away from your house. This prevents moisture around your foundation. 

A carpenter ant infestation can be easily controlled by changing and eliminating the conditions that attract them. Be sure to seal cracks and openings around your home’s foundation, especially in spots where wires and pipes come in from the outside. Carpenter ants love to make their nest in firewood, so elevate all woodpiles and position them at a good distance from your home. Tree limbs can act as a bridge for insects to perpetrate your home. Cut back any limbs or branches that are long enough to facilitate an infestation. 

Carpenter ant damage vs. termite damage 

Termites have a reputation for being silent destroyers. They have the uncanny ability to chew through wood and flooring without being noticed for months or even years. Termite damage sometimes looks similar to water damage. Keep an eye out for swollen flooring, bulging ceilings, or wood that is buckling. An infestation can even start to give off an odor that resembles mildew. 

Carpenter ants are the most destructive of all the ant species. They can damage any wood in which they nest These ants prefer to feed on wood that is rotting but that won’t stop them from moving into sound wood. When

they do, they are known to weaken support beams which in turn causes warping and is extremely structurally damaging. If left untreated, their numbers will multiply rapidly and satellite nests can form. 

Carpenter ant and termite control 

If you see the signs and are worried you may have an infestation of either insect, you need to contact a pest control company immediately. The professionals at Vinx Pest Control know exactly how to stop an infestation as well as prevent future ones from returning. We have years of experience under our belts and with our satisfaction guarantee, you can feel safe and secure in your own home once again. If you live in Dallas, TX, Charleston, SC or Greenville, SC, we can handle all your carpenter ant and termite problems. See pricing here. 

Carpenter Ants Texas

Carpenter Ants Texas

What are carpenter ants? 

Carpenter ants in Texas are a wood-destroying species of ants that can cause pretty severe damage to homes and any other structure they invade. Carpenter ants in Texas can specifically prove to be a problem as they are a common sight around Texas homes throughout the year. Even though their natural nesting sites are in trees, carpenter ants can also invade your indoor space. 

Identifying carpenter ants 

Carpenter ants are one of the larger species of ants you can find in Texas homes. The state is home to 18 different carpenter ant species. The most common of these ants have a reddish head and thorax with a black tail. They grow larger during mating season and also have wings. We refer to these winged carpenter ants as “swarmers”. Other species of carpenter ants are black and yellow in color. 

Are carpenter ants dangerous? 

While carpenter ants can certainly inflict a painful bite, they are a much greater threat to property than to people. These insects are attracted to areas of your home with water-damaged structural wood. Areas like under your sinks and near drains. They seek out moisture. Carpenter ants are like termites in the fact that they tunnel through your structural wood, but they differ in that they do not feed on it. But, they build satellite nests near their newly found food source. 

What do they eat? 

Outdoors, carpenter ants feed on living and dead insects. They also feed on honeydew, which is a sweet liquid produced by aphids and scale insects. There are a variety of food sources they are drawn to inside your home. Any sweet substance like honey or syrup, pet food, or any source of protein. They do not eat wood. 

Where will I find them? 

Most often, carpenter ants build their nests outside in wooded areas such as dead tree stumps, mulch piles, rotting fence posts, and under rocks. Since you really don’t want them coming into your home, it is imperative you know their go-to spots if they make it inside. Once again, any moist area where structural wood has been compromised is a target.

How to prevent carpenter ants 

Once you start seeing carpenter ants around your property you may already have an infestation. Here are some helpful ideas you can follow to prevent these pests from invading in the first place. 

  • Use dehumidifies inside your home or business, and properly ventilate your crawlspace. 
  • Remove any wood debris from your yard, including fallen trees and tree stumps. 
  • Store your food in airtight containers. 
  • Vacuum and sweep your floors regularly. 
  • Wipe down countertops and kitchen appliances on a regular basis.
  • Install quality weather stripping around all your windows and doors.
  • Routinely check your gutters to prevent water from seeping into your building. 
  • Inspect the exterior of your property, sealing any cracks leading into your home or business. 
  • Remove piles of leaves, mulch, or debris from your property
  • Make sure all your garbage cans and recycle bins have tight-fitting lids. 
  • Place a stone or crushed rock barrier between your foundation and mulch or grass 

How do I get rid of carpenter ants? 

Carpenter ants in Texas are an extreme annoyance and can be very hard to control. There are natural remedies you can try before venturing into chemical sprays and insecticides. A simple mixture of soap and water is toxic to carpenter ants. Mix one part natural dish soap to two parts water in a spray bottle. Spray as needed to kill the ants and eliminate their pheromone trails. You can continue to treat problem areas and nests until the ants no longer return. 

Quite often, home remedies will only work temporarily and you will likely see the pesky ants return. So, many homeowners choose to bypass these less effective home solutions and contact their local pest control experts. When it comes to pest control in the Dallas area, the experienced team at Vinx Pest Control are the ones to call. We guarantee your satisfaction or

we’ll keep servicing until you are completely satisfied. Our team of professionals is knowledgeable and skilled at every service we provide. Contact us today for a free quote and we can begin developing a specific treatment plan for your property. Click here to see pricing

What Do Termites Look Like? 4 Ways On How To Get Rid Of Termites

What Do Termites Look Like? 4 Ways On How To Get Rid Of Termites

Have questions about termites in the Dallas, TX area? We created the ultimate guide to termite treatment and prevention here to help! We’ll answer questions like “what do termites look like,” “how do I get rid of termites,” “do termites bite” and more.

If you have termite problems, we offer several services to help get rid of them! You can get an accurate price quote here.

What Do Termites Look Like?

What do termites look like? In general, termites have no noticeable waist due to thickness through their torso. They also possess antennae that are completely straight and legs that are short in length. Termites come in varieties with and without wings; however, the winged variant of this pest possesses wings that are equal in size in all aspects. 

Since termites are similar in appearance to ants, a pest invasion often leaves homeowners puzzled as to what type of nuisance insect has taken up residence in their homes. To complicate the matter, both ants and termites do share a number of similarities, making it difficult to differentiate between the two. For a homeowner to identify a termite and best understand how to treat this persistent pest problem, it is important for them to determine whether they are dealing with termites or ants since treatment methods differ according to species. 

How Do I Get Rid of Termites?

Since termites are insidious creatures with the potential to destroy the structural integrity of a home, it is vital that homeowners remove them from their residence as soon as their presence is detected. The only way to permanently eradicate a termite infestation is to determine their nesting locale and exterminate them. 

Termite invasions can be very difficult to unearth and often don’t come to light until the damage has already been done to a home. When termite damage reaches this level of destruction, the assistance of a professional pest removal company is often required to eliminate the infestation and prevent further damage. Below is a picture of wood that’s been damaged by termites. 

However, homeowners can identify the beginnings of termite colonies and take action before the problem reaches epic proportions. 

Here are some steps homeowners can take to get rid of termite colonies:

  • Determine the source of the infestation

    To ascertain the presence of a termite problem, it is often necessary to do some investigating. More serious infestations are evidenced by floor decay or hollowed out sections of wood or concrete. Barring any signs of this level of structural damage, termite detection will require some extra efforts. 

The best course of action is to make use of a flashlight and screwdriver to search wooden foundations and crawlspaces for obvious signs of hollowed out wood. The screwdriver will help determine if the wood has been weakened by termite activity. Should the wood be unstable and prone to breaking, termites are most definitely at work. 

Termites will also leave behind waste materials. Termite feces is similar in color to wood but is often darker in hue and shaped like a pellet. 

A final indicator is the detection of a termite nesting ground. Infestations of a subterranean nature are evidenced by a network of tunnels comprised of mud. Pest invasions in drywood will be revealed by a constructed nest inside a wooden beam or object. 

  • Identify the type of termite in the home

The two main types of termites that are the culprits behind infestations are subterranean and drywood termites. Subterranean termites prefer to inhabit dirt regions and wood while drywood termites make their homes in wooden habitats only. Drywood termites have a preferred locale, favoring areas of the country that experience warm temperatures and in states that are nestled along coastal regions. Subterranean termites will thrive in any environment and will inhabit any region. 

Though both types of termites are destructive, it is the subterranean variety that causes the most concern. Determining the type of termite affecting a home is critical as extermination methods differ according to the variety of the insect. 

  • Choose a method of extermination 

There are many different home remedies that are reported to eliminate termite infestations. The severity of the problem will determine their efficacy.

Among the treatment options, homeowners can attempt are boric acid sprays of the affected area, cardboard traps, and the use of beneficial nematodes, a type of worm species that gains its nutrition from ingesting termites. Most often, professional pest control services are required to return a home to its former termite-free existence. 

  • Include preventative measure to avoid future pest invasions 

Termites love to flock to environments that are warm and wet. With this in mind, it is key to preventing future termite infestations that a house is kept dry. In addition to this, homeowners can make use of pest repellant sprays to help make a house an inhospitable living environment for termites to discourage an invasion.

Do Termites Fly?

Certain species of termites do possess the ability to fly. The average termite that does not bear wings is extremely light in color. By comparison, flying termites run the gamut of colors with hues ranging from light creams, beiges, and greys to dark brown and even black. The darkest colored termites are the hardiest due to their moisture-preserving qualities, a key component to their survival. Flying termites typically have four wings and measure less than ½” in size.  

Most often, the presence of flying termites is an indication of a nearby colony. They are often evidenced by shed wing particles near portals of entry into a home. Flying termites are a very serious concern. Upon detection of a few of these nuisance insects, a thorough inspection of the home and surrounding property is highly recommended as it is likely an active colony is at work. 

Do Termites Bite?

Though termites can and do bite humans, they are more interested in feasting on wood and vegetation. Most often, termites resort to biting humans and animals whenever their preferred food source is not readily available. For this reason, termite bites are quite rare. 

The Formosan termite is equipped with sharp pincers that are a deeper hue than the remainder of their shell. This type of termite makes use of their pincers as a means of defense against perceived threats. Though the pinches of the Formosan termite are painful, they have no lasting ill effects on the recipient of the pinch. 

Do Termites Have Wings?

Termites fall within three different categories with some of the varieties bearing wings and others not. The caste responsible for reproduction both has wings and the ability to fly. This variety is known as a termite swarmer. The other two castes are the soldiers whose primary role is to protect the termite population at large and workers who source for food and continue the work of destroying a home. 

Termite swarmers measure between ¼” to 3/8” and are born with two sets of wings that are light grey or smokey-hued in appearance. In size, each wing set is the same. Many people often mistake termites with wings for a winged variety of ant. Upon more careful consideration, it is easy to detect the differences between these two winged creatures. A termite swarmer possesses antennae that are straight and wings of equal proportions. The ant has bent antennae and a front set of wings that are larger than the two located to the rear of the body. 

What Do Termites Eat?

Though termite damage is revealed in the wood they select as their favorite snacking material, the nutrition they seek is found in the cellulose contained within the fibers of the wood. Cellulose is abundant in nature and can be found not only in trees and wood products but also in many different types of plants. Termites will even feast on clothing made from cotton and even paper products if given the opportunity. 

Cellulose is a critical nutrient in the termite’s diet. These nuisance creatures contain organisms within their digestive tract that effectively render cellulose into nutrition to provide them with necessary energy to continue their work of destroying a home. Because most animals lack the enzymes to properly break down cellulose particles into a viable nutritional substance, cellulose products are most often neglected by other varieties of insects and animals. 

The type of termite will determine the insect’s preferred food source. Subterranean termites prefer to feast on springwood due to its soft, fleshy nature. When infested with subterranean termites, consumed wood begins to resemble the shape of a honeycomb. Further investigation will reveal traces of soil and feces within the wood itself.

By comparison, drywood termites favor any type of wood that eschews moisture. This wood is most typically found within a home and is often used to construct framing, structural support beams, hardwood flooring, and even high-quality furniture. This type of termite avoids soil and replenishes the lost moisture in its body via the wood they make their home in. The aftermath wreaked on wood infested with drywood termites remains smooth in appearance.

How Do I Get Rid of Termites in Walls?

Often the most common way to detect termite damage is via hollowed out areas in walls. Since walls provide easy access for termites and they offer considerable space from which a termite can gain nutrition, they are a prime target for hungry termites to devour. Unfortunately, once a termite infestation is evidenced in a wall, professional extermination services are the only means to eradicate the problem. 

Termite damage to walls is easy to spot. In its early stages, almost microscopic pinholes will appear throughout the surface of the wall. These little holes may occur in the drywall itself or in wallpaper. Alternatively, lines may appear in the wall itself. These faintly glimpsed lines are often indicative of tunneling which is taking place beneath the drywall. 

Other indications a wall is affected by termite damage include:

  • A hollow response to tapping
  • Paint that appears bubbled 
  • Paint that is peeling
  • Weakened baseboards
  • Doors or windows that resist opening

Though both drywood and subterranean termites bear culpability for damage to walls in homes, it is most often subterranean termites that are to blame for this type of destruction. When this variety of termite is at work, walls and even ceilings can take on the appearance of damage from a water-related issue. If there is any evidence of weakened wooden beams, drywall that is changing color, or paint that is bubbling along the surface, termite damage is likely. 

Drywood termites prefer to inhabit studded walls and wooden furniture. Smaller in colony size, drywood termites take far longer to accomplish their work. The preferred mode of destruction for this class of insect is to consume wood beginning on the inside and gradually working outwards. Any wood that sounds hollow when rapped upon is likely home to a colony of hungry termites. 

What Kills Termites?

Though professional pest control services are often required to eliminate a termite infestation, there are several alternative treatments that homeowners can attempt on their own. 

Here are four popular DIY termite treatment protocols to consider:

  • Apply a pesticide barrier

Pesticide barriers come in liquid form and are intended for use as a spray to kill existing termite colonies and provide preventative measures against future infestations. This type of pest control treatment is reported to kill termites directly upon contact. Most often, the pesticide is implemented around the perimeter of a house, but it is also safe for use around wooden items such as tree stumps, wooden furniture, or piles of wood.

Most pesticides are not detectable by termites, meaning they are a highly effective mode of treatment. The poison in the pesticide moves at a slow rate, ensuring termites spread the toxins to other members of the colony to encourage a rapid elimination of the infestation. 

  • Setting poisoned bait traps

Many people worry that the application of a liquid pesticide barrier may be harmful to their family members or pets and prefer to use something a little less harsh. Poisoned bait traps pinpoint specific areas within a home or yard, and thus, less of the toxic material is needed to achieve the desired result. Entire colonies are often eliminated in as little as one treatment. However, rain and moist weather conditions can result in false termite elimination responses on the traps. In addition to this, poisoned bait traps are limited to use with drywood termites.

  • Treat with boric acid

Boric acid is extremely caustic yet is still considered a safe treatment method for eliminating termite invasions. Boric acid is an effective pest control protocol for most nuisance insects including termites. It is believed that the acid itself wreaks negative impacts on the termite’s ability to digest and metabolize food sources. Within three to seven days of contact with boric acid, termites succumb to death.

Boric acid is not considered to be a natural remedy; however, it is far less harmful to human beings and their pets than traditional pesticides. Boric acid can also be purchased in a powder under the brand name Borax and is available at most grocery and hardware stores. 

  • Sprinkle some diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is a safe, non-toxic termite treatment. Comprised largely of tiny fossilized aquatic skeletons, this silica substance is found at the bottom of many bodies of water including lakes, rivers, and oceans. The razor-sharp bone particles found in diatomaceous earth tear into the outer shells of termites, leeching moisture from their bodies and exposing them to dehydration which ultimately claims their lives.

Have a termite problem in Dallas, Fort Worth, or the surrounding area and wish you didn’t? Try one of our home remedies or contact us at 972-855-8469 or to make your termite problems go away!