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Carpenter Ants vs Termites in Canoga Park – How to Tell Them Apart

Having trouble with pests at home can be a major hassle, especially if you need clarification on which pest you’re dealing with. Carpenter ants and termites, common pests in Canoga Park, often lead to confusion due to their similarities. Both are known to cause significant damage to the wooden structures in your home. 

By learning to distinguish between carpenter ants and termites, you’ll be better prepared to protect your property and deal with infestations effectively. 

Stick around to discover the key differences between carpenter ants and termites.

Carpenter Ants vs Termites: Appearance

When trying to distinguish between carpenter ants and termites, there are some distinct physical differences you can look for.

Body Shape

Carpenter ants, like most ant species, have a distinct three-part body with a narrow “waist.” On the other hand, termites, don’t have the clear segmentation and display a broader “waist.” This significant difference in body shape can be an easy way to identify the type of pest you’re dealing with.


A close look at their antennae also reveals another difference. Ants, including carpenter ants, have elbowed antennae, while termites have straight antennae that appear beaded or made up of tiny balls.


Swarming or reproductive termites and carpenter ants have wings, yet their wing structures differ. Carpenter ants have two larger forewings and two smaller hind wings, while termites possess two sets of uniform wings. If you find discarded wings and they’re all the same size, you’re likely dealing with termites. Different-sized wings indicate carpenter ants.

Color Differences

Color is another distinguishing factor. Carpenter ants are typically black, though some species may be a deep shade of red. Depending on their species and caste, termites range from dark brown to lighter shades like creamy tan or white. Some termite species or castes can have a translucent appearance, unlike most ants, which are opaque.

Carpenter Ants vs Termites: Behavior

Carpenter ants and termites may both be attracted to wood and moisture, but their behavior differs significantly.

Carpenter ants, unlike termites, do not consume wood. Instead, they excavate tunnels in the wood for nesting, which makes them less destructive than termites. You can often spot carpenter ants leaving their nests to forage for food, including sweets, meats, fruits, and pet food.

On the other hand, termites eat wood, causing more extensive damage due to their continuous feeding. Termites are less visible than carpenter ants as they rarely venture out from their tunnels. 

The most likely time you’ll spot termites is during swarming season, when winged termites emerge from mature colonies to find mates. If you notice these swarmers or their discarded wings around your windows, doors, and light sources, a termite colony may be near or in your home.

Carpenter Ants vs Termites: Life Cycle

While termites and ants share similarities in terms of their colonies’ hierarchies and caste systems, the lifespan of their members differs significantly. Some termite queens can live for over 30 years, though most have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. 

Comparatively, ant queens generally live up to 10 years, although certain species’ queens can survive for nearly three decades. Termite workers can live for approximately two years, whereas female worker ants often live just a few months, and male worker ants often perish a few weeks post-mating.

Both ants and termites hatch from eggs, but their life cycle timelines differ. Ant eggs hatch within one to two weeks, leading to the larval stage that lasts about six to 12 days. After several molts, they enter the pupal stage, forming a cocoon before emerging as an adult ant within one week to a month.

Termites, in contrast, transition from eggs to the nymph or larval stage. After up to three molts, they mature into adults and assume roles within the colony.

Carpenter Ants vs Termites: Damage

The damage caused by carpenter ants and termites also differs. Carpenter ants create tunnels and galleries that are smooth and have a refined look. In contrast, termite galleries and tunnels appear rough, with mud-caked surfaces. The notorious mud tubes constructed by termites can often be observed on external walls or the building’s foundation.

Termites, dubbed the “silent destroyers,” can chew through wood, flooring, and even wallpaper unnoticed. While carpenter ants can cause significant damage, it usually takes years for it to become noticeable. In comparison, termites are responsible for an estimated $500 billion worth of damage every year.

Getting Rid of Carpenter Ants and Termites in Canoga Park

Identifying whether you’re dealing with carpenter ants or termites can be challenging for homeowners. Either way, effectively eliminating an infestation is demanding, as missing just a few pests can lead to a new infestation. Both carpenter ants and termites can create multiple nests in a single location or across a property.
Our pest specialists at Bugs A to Z can accurately determine the nature of your infestation and devise a tailored plan to safeguard your home and family from these damaging pests. We’re also here to provide recommendations to prevent future pest issues. So why wait? Call us now to get started!