carpenter ants and termites

Carpenter ants vs. termites in Mesa, AZ

The state of Arizona and the city of Mesa is a great place to live.  One thing that brings people to this state and city is the weather. It’s the kind of a place where people who love warm weather can thrive. It’s why Mesa is growing so fast and why every year more people from cold-weather states move here.

The problem is that this weather, as nice as it is for humans, is also perfect for insects and destructive pests. There are at least two very wood-destructive pests that are common in the Mesa, AZ, area. They are carpenter ants and termites. You may know about one or another, but how do you know which pest insect is invading your home and property? The type of wood-consuming insect can determine the most effective treatment, so how do you tell the difference between carpenter ants vs. termites?

Western Exterminator specialists know the difference between carpenter ants and termites and can offer you solutions to get rid of an infestation. We can also help you prevent these pests from returning. Contact your local Western Exterminator office in Mesa, AZ, for help.

What is a carpenter ant?

A carpenter ant is a species of ant that has been found in many parts of the world and usually areas heavily forested. They look much like other ants you have seen, with the same body shape and antenna shape. However, carpenter ants burrow into wood in order to lay eggs and create nests for their colony.

Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat the wood they chew. They are building tunnels much in the same way other ants build their colonies and nests in the ground or even those ants you find in ant farms people have in their homes.

The problem is that carpenter ants chew up so much and can end up creating colonies so large, they can create serious structural damage. Their damage, if left unchecked, can actually be as bad as that of termites. In the forest, they help get rid of old, rotting wood, but in your home, they can create serious and costly damage.

What is a termite?


Termites, on the other hand, are a species of social insect from the Isoptera family. They are actually more closely related to cockroaches than they are ants, but they are often mistaken for ants due to their body shape.

Termites are usually very small, and there are drywood termites, Western subterranean termites and dampwood termites. All three species of termite are known to exit in Mesa, Arizona, too.

During certain times of the year, termites swarm and fly to a location to set up their nests. They discard their wings and start devouring wood to get to the glucose that holds the molecules of the wood together for food. Worker termites bring this substance back to their nests for the termites and termite young to feed on.

Termites can create enormous colonies and are one of the most costly pests in the world. Termites never stop consuming wood and this means a termite colony in your home on your property is causing damage all day, all night and every single day of the year.

What do carpenter ants look like?

Carpenter ants tend to be dark colored ants that grow up to 0.3 to 0.76 inches in length. This makes them fairly large ants compared to other ant species. They look different from termites because they have the following:

  • A waist. You can take one look at a carpenter ant and see they have a well defined waist. They have a large head with powerful mandibles, a body, and then a narrow area before a larger back end.
  • Antenna. The antenna of carpenter ants have a bend or “elbow” to them unlike those of a termite.
  • Wings. Flying carpenter ants have four wings and the back, or hind wings, are shorter than the front, or fore wings.

Carpenter ants will leave telltale sawdust piles and much larger holes in the wood they eat. They are just digging channels and holes to build their nests rather than consuming the wood, so they deposit the wood particles in places where you can see them.

What do termites look like?

Termites are very small and they often leave behind things like mud tubes or devour so much of the inside of wooden structures that they crumble when touched. You may also see discarded wings when termite swarmer season comes around. However, termite body shapes also differ from ants because of the following:

  • No waist. Unlike the carpenter ants, termites appear to have one continuous body and no discernible waist area.
  • Antenna. For termites, they have straight antennae. They also have little ball-shaped “beads” at the ends.
  • Wings. Termites have four wings that are the same size fore and hind. Winged termites also have wings longer than their bodies.

How Western Exterminator helps with carpenter ants and termites

A Western Exterminator specialist is trained to spot the signs of a carpenter ant infestation versus a termite infestation. They can spot the damage and upon looking at the damage, usually, determine if you have carpenter ants or termites. A Western Exterminator specialist can also offer the right treatment options with you to stop the damage, reduce the overall cost of repairs by catching and stopping infestations, and help further reduce costs by offering solutions to keep these pests away.

At Western Exterminator, we have the right tools, equipment, and training to find the problem, identify the pest and offer a solution to get rid of the pest and prevent them from coming back. This ends up reducing the property damage overall, which can save money.

Contact your local Western Exterminator office today to discuss carpenter ants, termites or any other pest issues you might have.

Ashley Smith

Ashley is a Digital Content Manager with Rentokil. She loves drinking coffee and spending time with her dogs.

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