Spring has sprung, and you know what they say! “April showers bring May pest infestations.” Ok, maybe that’s not what they say, but sometimes it seems like that might be the case. Spring is a time of increased activity for most species of animals and insects, and pests are no exception. As the weather warms, many types of pests emerge from dormancy looking for their next meal and place to nest. If you’re not careful, they might make that meal or nesting area your home.

Two common spring pests in Indiana are carpenter ants and termites. They can be tricky to tell apart if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for. Here are a few ways to tell if the pests around your home are termites or carpenter ants.

Termites

Termites are known as hidden threats and can cause extensive damage, often with few external signs. In fact, termites are responsible for an estimated $1 to $2 billion in property damage annually in the US. The average home or business owner how finds themselves in the midst of a termite infestation spends $3,000 to repair damage.

Clearly, any signs of termites should not be ignored. It is often difficult for a homeowner to detect and treat a termite infestation on their own, especially if the colony is already established. However, simply knowing how to identify termites and signs of termites will be helpful in the event of a pest problem.

What do Termites Look Like?

Termites are secretive and are rarely seen by an untrained eye. You’re far more likely to spot signs of termite damage before you’ll see the termites themselves. There is an exception, though – swarmers. Termite swarmers (flying termites) are often confused with carpenter ants. The main difference is that termite swarmers will have straight antennae, a broad waist, and both pair of wings similar in length.

Signs of Termites

As we mentioned above, the thing to really be on the lookout for are signs of termites, rather than the termites themselves. Often, a suspected termite problem turns out to be a problem with carpenter ants or fire ants, because they look so similar.

  • Swarmers (termites with wings) may be visible in early spring as they attempt to mate and spread to another colony.
  • Shed wings of termite swarmers may be found on sidewalks, window sills, baseboards, and vents. (Can also be a sign of carpenter ants.)
  • Wood damage in firewood, mulch, or porch beams may indicate termites on the property, and the possibility that there is damage to the interior of the home.
  • Mud tubes, which serve as roads between the colony and food sources are often found in secluded areas, such as basements.  

Carpenter Ants

While carpenter ants are not necessarily dangerous to humans, they can certainly pose a threat to the structures they’re infesting. They don’t eat wood, but they build tunnels inside of it to make their nests. If treated early, carpenter ant infestations are seldom responsible for serious damage to houses and buildings. And certainly, compared with the extent of damage caused by termites, carpenter ants are nothing more than a nuisance. However, if left undiscovered or untreated for an extended period, they could cause serious damage, so they are definitely not something to ignore.

What do Carpenter Ants Look Like?

Carpenter ants are often difficult to distinguish from other species of ants based only on physical characteristics. Carpenter ants are “polymorphic,” which means that there are workers of varying sizes in the colony, but typically size ranges from 3.4 to 13mm. They can also present with black, dark brown, red and black, yellow, or red coloration.

Carpenter ants are often mistaken for termite swarmers. The most important characteristics to look for when distinguishing carpenter ant swarmers from termite swarmers are elbowed antennae, a pinched or constricted waist, and a front pair of wings that is longer than the back. If your insect has these characteristics, it is a carpenter ant.

Signs of Carpenter Ants

Like many other insects, carpenter ants are great at working quietly behind the scenes and are easily undetected, especially if you don’t know what to look for. Here are some of the most common signs of carpenter ants.

  • Wood that sounds hollow when tapped upon.
  • The faint rustling sound within the walls can be heard in infested wood.
  • Trails of sawdust left behind where carpenter ants have bored holes into wood.
  • The surface of wood that has been infested with carpenter ants is easily penetrated or broken.
  • The presence of carpenter ant workers and swarmers (ants with wings).
  • Shed wings of carpenter ant swarmers on window sills, baseboards, and vents. (The presence of wings may also be an indication of termites.)

Get Rid of Termites or Carpenter Ants in Bloomington, IN

Whether you have a problem with termites or carpenter ants, or you just want to be sure you’re covered, give us a call! The humid Indiana spring and summer months are perfect conditions for termites and carpenter ants to thrive and grow. Don’t let these unwelcome guests invite themselves to your home! Send us a message, or give us a call today.