carpenter ant eating wood

Is It Termites Or Carpenter Ants Chewing On My Hartford Home?

The investment you've made in your Hartford home is a substantial one. If you're like most people, you're counting on that investment to be part of your retirement plan. But somewhere between now and retirement, termites and carpenter ants can threaten that plan. These insects damage the wood of U.S. properties to the tune of more than a billion dollars each and every year. But they're not an equal threat. Termites consume wood. If these insects get into your Hartford home, they can hollow out structural timbers and create extensive damage that is difficult to fix. Carpenter ants excavate tunnels in wood; they don't eat it. When they create their tunnels, they push the tiny wood shaving out. This can alert you to a carpenter ant infestation much quicker than a termite infestation. This is where we'll start our conversation today. Here are ways termites and carpenter ants are different and why it is important to understand these differences.

Wood Shavings

Termites don't produce wood shavings. These insects consume wood. If termites are damaging your Hartford home, you won't see wood shavings. This is a sign of carpenter ant damage.


It is important to note that the wood shavings carpenter ants push out of their tunnels is called frass. This term was applied to the material because it includes feces. Drywood termites can produce frass, but it does not contain wood shavings; it is just dried fecal pellets. In our service area, we don't have issues with drywood termites. Therefore, you can conclude that any frass found is a result of a carpenter ant infestation. There are many places carpenter ant frass can be found:

  • On window and door frames.

  • Along baseboards.

  • On floors.

  • Pouring out of cracks and gaps.

  • Clinging to walls or timbers.

  • And in other areas.


The termites in our Hartford service area are subterranean termites. These insects have a unique connection to the soil. When they get into the wood of a home, they bring soil up into their tunnels. If you expose tunnels during a home renovation, and you notice that the tunnels are gritty, you've uncovered a termite infestation. Carpenter ant tunnels are smooth to the touch.

Visible Damage

Subterranean termites rarely cause visible damage. There are a few reasons for this.

A subterranean termite worker has a thin skin that must stay hydrated. If it dries out, it will die.
Subterranean termite workers have an aversion to light. This aversion to light keeps termite workers from breaching tunnel walls and letting light inside. They have been observed feeding all the way to the paint of wood timbers and stopping just short of breaking through.

If subterranean termites cause visible damage, you're likely to find this damage in dark, damp areas, or where there is wood-to-soil contact. Damage to door or window frames and wood that does not touch the soil is far more likely to be the result of a carpenter ant infestation. Carpenter ants don't have to worry about drying out.

Shelter Tubes

The need for moisture will cause subterranean termites to create above-ground tunnels made of mud. These tunnels (or tubes) are referred to as shelter tubes. If you see them on a surface of your home, you have a termite infestation. Carpenter ants don't make these tubes.

Shelter tubes may be as thin as a pencil. They may appear as one wiggly line or they may branch like the tributaries of a flowing river. The river-shape will begin at the bottom and branch as it moves up from the ground. If several mud tubes are created on top of each other, they can start to look like a mass of packed mud.

Winged Insects

A warning sign of a termite or carpenter ant infestation is the appearance of winged insects. Carpenter ants are quite large. The alates (winged ants) are twice the size of the workers and may be a little more than an inch long. Termite alates (usually called swarmers) are only about ⅜ of an inch long. That is quite a bit smaller.

No Matter What Is Damaging Your Home

At the first sign of termites or carpenter ants, take action and contact American Pest Solutions. While termites are more destructive, it is not good to have any destructive pests inside the wood of your property. Reach out to us today to protect your investment and to safeguard your retirement plan.

Get Your Evaluation

For Immediate Assistance Call (888) 324-7025