Carpenter ants and termites can do significant damage to the structure of your home. The damage that these bugs do often goes unnoticed or is mistaken for water damage. Improper or neglected treatment of wood-damaging bugs can result in a large infestation and weakened structural wood. Whether you're considering buying a house, selling a house, or are currently living in your dream home, learning more about carpenter ants and termites and finding out about different ways to combat them can prevent a lot of hassle and costly repairs in the long run.

Carpenter ants differ in appearance from termites. They have a narrow waist, a dark color, and antennae that are bent. Termites have a rectangular body shape; they don't have a waist. Also, they have a creamy white, transparent color and straight antennae. If their four wings are still intact, carpenter ants will have hind wings that are shorter than the forewings, and termites will have wings that are equal in size. Carpenter ants are more visible than termites, who prefer to avoid light. The eating habits of these wood ants also differ. Carpenter ants don't eat wood; they only excavate wood to create tunnels and galleries to nest in. This is also why the damage they do is less severe than that of termites. Their diet typically consists of dead and living insects, pet food, sweets, such as jelly, and honeydew secretions from scale insects and aphids. Termites primarily eat wood but will also consume things like insulation, books, and paper.

Detecting the presence of carpenter ants and termites is difficult because there is often no visible damage on the surface of wooden structures. Wood-damaging ants are prominent in spring, when the weather is mild. The first sign that you might notice if you have wood ants can be the presence of several winged ant-like insects. Carpenter ants burrow into moist, soft wood and leave behind visible piles of wood shavings. Although the surface of the wood might appear undamaged, below the surface, smooth holes and tunnels are present. A termite infestation can sometimes be detected through mud tubes that run along the surface of the foundation. The ants use these tubes to travel through, and breaking up a tube might help you detect the infestation. Unlike the smooth, clean holes and tunnels that carpenter ants create in moist wood, termites have no problem damaging dry wood, and their galleries can be recognized by the presence of mud and soil.

Effective control is essential to combat a carpenter ant or termite infestation. The nest must be located and destroyed. Over-the-counter insecticides can be used on exposed nests. You can also lay out poisonous bait for the unwelcome ants. When they detect the bait and carry it back to the nest to share with the colony, it can eradicate the problem. Nests that are concealed are more challenging to get rid of, and you might be better off using the help of a professional pest control company. They have access to a greater variety of insecticidal products and know how to safely apply them. Make sure to choose a licensed pest control company with trained technicians and a good reputation. Contact two to three local companies and have them do an inspection of your property and give you a price estimate. Some companies might offer warranties for their services, while others might offer to repair the damage that was done.

Rather than dealing with an infestation, focus on preventing one by making the environment in and around your home unattractive to carpenter ants and termites. Fix any water leaks, and eliminate standing water near your home. Make sure that rainwater slopes away from your home and not toward it. Clean up the yard, and get rid of anything that might attract carpenter ants or termites. Remove heavy brush, mulch, and firewood around your home that can serve as a food source. Consider installing trellises to keep plants away from your home. You can even schedule regular inspections by a professional to ensure that your home is free of termites and carpenter ants.

To prevent having to deal with uninvited wood ants and learn more about safely combating these destructive pests, consult the following sources:

Article written by Lexi Westingate
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