When it comes to wood-boring insects, homeowners in the US will mainly have to deal with two species – carpenter ants and termites. But which of these two species is the worst and how do they differ?
The two species are very different when it comes to their biology. Termites do not have an exoskeleton, and this leaves them very vulnerable to environments that are not high in humidity. Basically, when a termite worker gets out of the colony, it will die within moments of dehydration. carpenter ants are much harder and they are able to travel freely in order to forage for food.
Carpenter ants and termites also differ in terms of diets. While termites consume the wood that they infest, carpenter ants have a regular ant diet. They are drawn to protein, sugars and fats, and this is why you will often see carpenter ants crawling around the home looking for food when you have an infestation.
Carpenter ants, drywood termites and dampwood termites will build their colonies inside wood, while subterranean termites build their colonies underground. This is why subterranean termites are much more effective at harvesting wood – they are able to deploy a full workforce as soon as they infest a piece of wood. The other three species on the other hand will have to start an infestation with just the queen, and slowly grow over time. This is why subterranean termites are the most destructive wood-boring species in the US.
When it comes to control, there are significant differences between these species. Subterranean termites have to be controlled using chemical barriers and baiting systems, drywood and dampwood termites are controlled with wood treatments and fumigation, and carpenter ants are controlled using ant baits. The most expensive treatment method is the fumigation, which is the only way to remove extensive drywood and dampwood infestations, and the least expensive is the ant bait used against carpenter ants. However, ant baits can take a long time to completely destroy a colony.
When it comes to prevention, different methods have to be used against each species, but the best way to make sure that these insects do as little damage as possible to the home is to work with a pro and set up yearly inspections against wood-boring insects. In this way, your home is protected against a wide variety of pests before they get to do too much damage. For more information on carpenter ants and termites, or if you suspect that there is an infestation in your home, contact us today.