According to our termite professionals, termites and carpenter ants are often confused for one another, but they’re actually quite different. Termites like to feed on wood and other cellulose-based materials, while carpenter ants prefer foods such as grease or sweet substances.

These two insects also have a few other differences that make it easy to tell them apart from one another. In this blog post, we will discuss how termites and carpenter ants differ so you can recognize the right pest next time!

Physical Differences Between Carpenter Ants and Termites

Termites and carpenter ants are both social insects or insects that live within a community. These creatures can be troublesome to deal with because they can cause a lot of damage.

It is helpful to know the difference between termites and carpenter ants before you try to rid your home or business of them! Let’s take a look at how these insects differ in appearance:


An antenna is what insects use to communicate with one another. Although these things may have the same purpose when it comes to termites and carpenter ants, they look quite different.

Carpenter ants have bent antennae that are elbowed and hooked, whereas termites do not possess such antennae but rather a straight one with no elbow or hook. These antennae are also different lengths. Termites have short antennae, while carpenter ants have longer ones.

Body shape

When it comes to body shape, ants and termites also look different.

If you look at their body shape, you need to take a good look at their abdomen area to really differentiate between the two. A termite doesn’t have a “waist,” Instead, it has a more rectangular body shape. Their bodies do not have any narrowing in the center.

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On the other hand, a carpenter ant has a waist that narrows in the middle of their bodies.


Termites don’t usually have wings, but certain ones reach their reproductive stage and develop wings. When termites develop wings, we often call them swarmers. Termite swarmers have two sets of long, transparent wings with knobbed ends that fold back over the abdomen when at rest.

Carpenter ants don’t have two pairs of wings like termites do and instead just have one pair that folds down to the sides of their bodies while in flight or at rest on a surface.


Termites are usually pale white, yellowish or tan in color. Some species of termite even have a reddish-brown body, like the Formosans that infest homes and other wooden structures throughout Malaysia. The soldiers of these species can also be red to dark brown with blackhead and jaws.

On the other hand, Carpenter ants range from red to black depending upon their age (younger ants tend to be lighter in color), but they do not change colors as they mature like some ant colonies do. Their six legs will always remain light in color, though, because at least one pair is modified for grasping small objects while two pairs are adapted for digging into crevices.

Ants and Termites Behavioral Differences

Although many people think termites and arts are similar, they’re very different when it comes to behavior. Termites are attracted to wood and eat anything containing cellulose like paper, cardboard, and even some plastics. They can also damage cloth and clothing by chewing holes in them to get at the cellulose fibers inside.

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On the other hand, Carpenter ants don’t usually feed on wood unless they sense a food source is nearby, such as sap leaks or water from rain entering through damaged areas of your home’s exterior walls. The main food source for carpenter ants is usually insects or insect larvae.

How to Deal With These Two Damaging Pests

Both pests can cause destruction. Termites may damage the structure of your home, and carpenter ants destroy furniture, clothes and food items. But it is important to keep in mind that termites can be more destructive if they infest a wooden house like the one you live in.

Carpenter ants don’t usually cause as much damage unless there are lots of them living inside your walls or wood structures for extended periods. So dealing with either type of pest means determining how widespread the problem has become, so you know exactly what needs to get done to resolve the issue completely.

In general, it’s best to contact a pest control company that offers termite and carpenter ant treatments because they will know exactly what to do to eliminate the problem.

In Conclusion

In this blog post, we have discussed the difference between carpenter ants and termites. We have looked at their physical characteristics, behavior and how to deal with them in your home or business premises if they invade it.

Want more information about termites and how to deal with them? Give us a call so we can help!

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