Carpenter ants and termites are often confused, as they look alike and do similar damage. Knowing what type of insect has infested your home helps you and our team of exterminators here in Houston craft a successful pest control plan. 

Stampede Pest Control will help you tell the differences between carpenter ants vs. termites, and we will help you remove them from your residential or commercial Houston property.

Carpenter Ants vs. Termites: How to Tell Them Apart

While the insects look alike to the untrained eye, once you know what to look for, you’ll quickly be able to distinguish the ants from the termites. 


Termites have wide bodies without a noticeable waist. On the other hand, carpenter ants have pinched waists. Another way to distinguish termites from carpenter ants is by assessing antennae, as the termites are straight and the carpenter ants are bent. 

While they both have four wings, their wings are different sizes. Termite wings are equal in size and longer than the insect’s body. Carpenter ants have short back wings and longer forewings. Termite wings fall off, and their discarded wings often mark the entrance to their nests. 

Termites are lightly colored, and nearly transparent. Carpenter ants are dark in color, often with a reddish tint. You won’t see termites unless you disturb their nests, while ants are easy to see as they wander around searching for food. 

Signs of Infestation

Carpenter ants and termites damage homes, but they do it differently. Carpenter ants make their homes in wood, so they damage it, but they don’t eat it. Termites eat the cellulose in wood for nutritional value. 

The signs of a carpenter-ant infestation usually involve wood shavings near baseboards, windows, and doors. Because they don’t eat the wood in your home, they dispose of it near the entrance to their nests. You may hear rustling noises as the ants chew through your walls and woodwork. Carpenter ants leave trails in your yard, and you’ll see their wings in your home. 

Termites also leave sure signs of infestation. If they’ve been in your home long enough, you’ll notice your drywall begin to droop or become discolored. You might notice pin-size holes in your drywall. Paint will peel on your walls, and the wood in your home will have a hollow sound. 

As termites eat through your home, your floorboard could start to sag and squeak. Termites leave maze-like patterns as they eat through the wood in your home and yard. You might notice mazes, piles of wood dust, and wings around their nests. 

Having termites in your yard can also be problematic. They can move from trees into your home quickly. If they move into your home, you’ll see mud tubes on your home’s foundation as termites move through them to get from the ground to the wooden part of your home. 


Termites are active at night and devour the cellulose in wood. Carpenter ants are active during the day, and they prefer sweet food. Termites swarm near windows and lights at night. If you see swarming termites, you most likely have them in your home and their nest is large. Carpenter ants swarm in May, June, and July as they look to grow their colonies.

Are Carpenter Ants and Termites Harmful?

Carpenter ants and termites do not spread disease, so neither insect is harmful to humans directly. However, they can cause severe damage to the structure of your home, including your walls, floors, and foundation.

To be exact, termites alone cause $5 billion worth of structural damage to homes in the US every year. When repairs are left undetected or ignored or undetected, injury can occur.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants and Termites

The best way to get rid of both species is to call a professional exterminator like our team at Stampede Pest Control. We will inspect your home to look for damage and infestations. After determining the problem, our expert pest control team will create a custom plan to remove the pests and prevent them from returning. Call us today!