Difference Between Carpenter Ants and Termites

Both these insects might seem the same at one glance as both are small, have wings and are attracted towards woods, but if one looks closely, the apparent physical distinctions become very vivid. They are mostly seen in spring and infest the house if not taken care of.

Carpenter Ants vs Termites

The main difference between carpenter ants and termites is carpenter ants are dark in colour but termites have light colours. Carpenter ants have strong wings but termites have weak wings. Their shapes vary from each other as well. While carpenter ants feed on sugar and protein, termites feast on cellulose.

Carpenter Ants vs Termites

Carpenter ants make tunnels in woods after they hollow them by chewing on them. They do these to develop their nest to keep food and eggs. They retain a strong set of wings and they can be identified by their dark reddish colour. They destroy homes so getting rid of them is very crucial.

Termites are dangerous insects that can eat a house to its hollow. They can easily destroy wood products and paper products and they consume cellulose from these as their food. They have a weak set of wings with a light cream coloured body. Sometimes they can be transparent too.

Comparison Table Between Carpenter Ants and Termites

Parameters of ComparisonCarpenter AntsTermites
Shape It is a narrow-waisted insect.It is broad waisted.
ColourIt is reddish or dark in colour.It is mostly light or creamy white coloured, it can be transparent as well.
WingsIt has strong large forewings and small back wings.It does not have strong wings, it has two sets of wings that are even to each other.
AntennaeIts antennas are segmented and elbowed.Its antennas are straight and resemble beads.
FoodIt eats sugar and protein.It eats cellulose that is found inside the woods.
BodyCarpenter ant‘s body is segmented into three parts.A termite’s body is segmented into two parts.

What is Carpenter Ant?

Carpenter ants are one of the major causes of structural damage. They infest in moist wooden things and sometimes they even hollow trees. Carpenter ants are attracted to the wood but they do not eat wood, rather they dig wood, to build their nests. They choose moistly and damaged woods to do so. They are named carpenter ants for their skills in making their nests in the woods. The tunnels made by carpenter ants are smooth and flawless. If you see wood sawdust around your wooden furniture then it is the sign of an infestation of carpenter ants.

Carpenter ants chew on wood to create nests to keep eggs. They need a highly humid space for that so they choose moist woods. Carpenter ants do not eat wood, they collect food crumbles, they also collect other dead insects and consume nutrients from them.

Carpenter ant infestation happens very silently, they can take years to make some crucial damage. This infestation can be controlled very easily. One can get rid of the carpenter ants by removing the conditions that they are attracted to.

What is Termite?

Just like ants and some bees, termites also have divisions like workers and soldiers, kings and queens. Termites mostly feed on dead plant material and cellulose, generally from wood, wooden products, leaf litter, soil, and paper products. Termites are one of the very few most successful groups of insects on Earth as they can destroy everything very quickly and silently. Termites eat and make the edges of the wood rough and fill it with a coating of mud or soil.

Termites have broad waisted bodies with two pairs of flimsy wings that are identical to each other. But these small insects have demon-like strength when it comes to destroying structures. Termites are villainously capable of chewing through the flooring, wood, and wallpaper sometimes, without even people noticing. They build their nests in chimneys, mostly damaged door and window frames, they do not even leave sinks and bathtubs.

Termites control treatments can be of various types, they can be chemical and none chemical depending on the preference. Pesticides can also help to some extent to mitigate termites’ attacks. Many farms offer pest control and if your home is infested then you should call a pest control company after checking properly.

Main Differences Between Carpenter Ants and Termites

  1. A carpenter ant is a narrow-waisted insect whose body is segmented into three parts whereas a termite is an insect with a broad waist and that is why its body is segmented into two parts.
  2. Both the insects have wings, carpenter ants have strong wings. Its forewings are large and back wings are small whereas termites have two sets of identical wings
  3. Carpenter ants are dark or reddish while termites have distinctively light creamy white colour, sometimes they are transparent.
  4. Carpenter ants retain segmented and elbowed antennas whereas termites retain straight and beady antennas.
  5. Carpenter ants eat mostly sugar and protein, they are attracted towards sweet and moisture while on the other hand, termites eat cellulose of the wood.
  6. Carpenter ants never consume wood, they chew on them to make tunnels and leave sawdust behind. Termites, on the other hand, consume wood as their primary food.


Carpenter ants and termites are different insects that differ not only physically but also behaviorally. They have many differences through which people can easily identify them. They eat different things and live differently too. But even after so many differences, they share one common ground which is infesting in homes and damaging things such as house structure, furniture, books and other things. Both can silently destroy your home under your nose. To get rid of these infestations one needs to take the help of pest control. As they are different, the processes and techniques for these insects are different as well.


  1. https://academic.oup.com/jee/article-abstract/96/4/1259/2217831
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02223990
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