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There are two pests homeowners in Frisco sometimes get mixed up. They both create galleries inside wood and they both produce winged forms that swarm together. And, as you are probably aware, they are both capable of damaging property. But of the two, termites are the far greater threat. Subterranean termites cost U.S. property owners billions of dollars in repairs each year. Of that amount, Southern states pay the greatest percentage. So it is important to be able to tell the difference between these two pests and the warning signs they provide.

Visual Identification

If you chop into a stump in your backyard and find hundreds of tiny white ant-like insects crawling around inside, you've found a termite infestation. You may also find termites if you dig up the ground in your yard or when you do renovations to your home. Termite workers avoid the light and can't survive in dry air. As an insect, termites have six legs, two antennae, and three body parts. They differ visually from ants in that they don't have a pinched waist.


Carpenter ant workers don't have a problem being out in the dry air. While they certainly prefer areas that are cool and damp, they'll come out to get food sources. Ants don't consume wood for food. They excavate it. So you might see carpenter ants crawling around in your backyard or on your back deck. But keep in mind that these ants are mostly nocturnal. You might have to go out when it's dark and find them with a flashlight. When you do find them, you're likely to know they are carpenter ants because, at about ⅝ of an inch long, these are the largest ants you'll find in and around your Frisco home. They may be all black or they might be a mix of black and dark red. If you catch one with a piece of packaging tape, you can examine it closely to see if it has a single node between its abdomen and thorax. This is basically the waist of the ant.

Behavior Identification

You can tell the difference between carpenter ants and termites by how they behave. Here are a few things to look for:


Dirt: If you open up a wall and find tunnels in the wood, you can immediately tell which of these two insects created the tunnels. Carpenter ant tunnels are smooth to the touch. Subterranean termite tunnels are gritty. This is because this type of termite brings soil up into its tunnels to provide moisture and also to use for sealing breaches in tunnel walls.


Shelter tubes: Subterranean termites use the soil that they bring into their tunnels to create mud tunnels on the side of materials they can't chew their way through, such as concrete and brick. These tubes can be a warning sign of termite activity.


Damage: Almost all of the damage subterranean termites do is on the inside of the wood they feed on. As mentioned, this is because they avoid the light and the dry air. Carpenter ants can cause damage to wood that you may see, such as holes in windows or door frames.


Frass: Carpenter ants create kickout holes and push the sawdust out. This sawdust is called frass; frass is a mixture of feces and wood shavings.


When you see insects swarming together and crawling on your Frisco home, you may wonder if they're carpenter ants or termite swarmers. It is easy to tell them apart. Termite swarmers are very small and they have long white wings that are longer than their body length. Carpenter ants have wings that are yellowish and are just about the same length as their bodies. Plus, a winged ant looks like a winged ant. It has a noticeably pinched waist. Termites do not have a pinched waist.

What Do You Do When You Find Termites or Carpenter Ants?

Both of these pests present a threat to your property. The best course of action is to contact a licensed and experienced pest control provider. In Frisco, and throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area, you can trust All-Safe Pest & Termite to properly address these pests. Reach out to us today to request a free estimate.

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