termite on granite

Termites V.S. Carpenter Ants in Hartford

In our area, we have a serious structural pest called the black carpenter ant. When these ants get into Hartford properties, they can do a lot of damage, over time. But how do they measure up to subterranean termites? Let's take a look.

Why Subterranean Termites Are So Bad

Termites don't destroy your home in a day. They don't even destroy your home in a year. It takes several years. So the reason they're so bad is not as connected to how much damage each insect does, but more so in how they are able to hide from view. Here are a few ways termites hide:

  • Worker termites are quiet. Each little bite they take will only produce a minor sound that cannot be detected. You can press your ear to a timber that is filled with termites and not hear them feeding.

  • Worker termites avoid light. Termites are born blind and they live out their entire lives in the pitch dark. But they have the ability to sense light. When they do, they avoid it at all cost. This ensures that workers stay inside wood, hidden from view.

  • Worker termites avoid dry air. The skin of a termite worker is very thin. For this reason, it will stay inside ground tunnels or inside the tunnels it has created in wood. It is rare for termites to create damage that is visible simply because the holes would allow dry air into their tunnels. If termite damage is found in a dark damp place, you'll find mud in the gaps and cracks because termites use soil to seal openings to protect themselves.

  • Termites eat wood. There is no reason for a termite to come out of its tunnels to find food. They can feed all day, every day, without taking a break.

  • Swarmers are male and female reproductive termites that have no trouble with light. In fact, swarmers are drawn to light. So you could see these insects crawling around in the daytime or in a location that is brightly lit. Unfortunately, swarms don't last for more than 30 minutes and swarms only occur for a short time in spring. They are easy to miss.

Do you see how it works?

Subterranean termites are able to completely destroy your home because they're hard to detect. This is vitally important to understand because it can give you some insight into the threat carpenter ants can present to your home.

What Happens When Carpenter Ants Are Able To Hide

There are many ways carpenter ants can make themselves an obvious problem. But, under the right conditions, these obvious signs can be hidden. Here are some examples:

Damage: Carpenter ants have more of a tolerance for dry air and can chew holes in window and door frames, carve up a fence or deck, make a hole in a baseboard, and cause damage in other visible locations. If you see this kind of damage, it can alert you to an infestation and cause you to take action. But what happens when this damage is in dark, hidden places, such as underneath your deck or patio? You should know that carpenter ants are nocturnal by nature and prefer to be active in dark places. This makes it likely that they'll create damage where you can't see it.

Detection: Like all ants, it is possible to see carpenter ants crawling around. They don't stay hidden inside wood their whole life. They have to come out to find food. They may even get the bright idea that your pantry is a great place to get food. How long do you think an infestation will last if you open up your pantry door and find hundreds of big black ants? Not long; that's how long. But carpenter ants don't ever have to feed on your pantry food. They can find all the food they need outside of your home.

Frass: Unlike termites, carpenter ants produce sawdust. If you see piles of sawdust, it can alert you to an infestation. But this frass is often dumped out into attic spaces, basements, cellars, and wall voids where it can't be seen. Sometimes, it is even dumped out into carpenter workshops within a home, garage, or shed. This conceals the sawdust.

How destructive are carpenter ants?

It depends on how sneaky they can be. Under the right circumstance, carpenter ants can present an extended threat to your property. Don't let this happen. At the first sign of carpenter ant activity (even a single ant) contact American Pest Solutions. Don't take any chances with your equity. It just isn't worth it.

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