To the untrained eye, a carpenter ant and a termite are hard to tell apart. After all, they’re both oblong in shape, have a dark color and have four wings. They both also damage wood. But there are some major differences between the two pests.
The main difference is that termites eat wood, while carpenter ants prefer to nest in it, carving out (excavating) spaces in moist wood for their nesting galleries.
Here are several other differences between termites and carpenter ants:
- Both insects have four wings, but a termite’s wings are all the same size. The front wings of a carpenter ant are much larger than the back pair.
- A termite’s wings are shaped like a paddle. A carpenter ant’s wings are pointy.
- The wings of a termite are two times as long as its body.
- A carpenter ant often has a black dot on the tip of its front wings.
- A termite’s wings are very fragile and can break easily, while the wings of a carpenter ant are sturdier.
- The body of a termite has a “broad” waist and is comprised of two segments. The carpenter ant’s body, however, has a “narrow” waist, and three segments.
- A termite’s antennae will be very straight, while the carpenter ant’s antennae are bent (like an elbow).