A comparison of a carpenter ant swarmer and a termite swarmer. Pioneer Pest Management, serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about the differences between termites and carpenter ants.

Termites and carpenter ants have a few things in common: they’re both about the same size, they mate in the spring, and they share a love of wood. But, they are entirely different pests.

Although you should enlist the help of a professional regardless of which pest you’re dealing with, this article will help you distinguish between the two.

Physical Differences Between Termites and Carpenter Ants


One of the most obvious differences between termites and carpenter ants is their appearance. Termites have light-colored, almost translucent bodies with straight antennae and straight waists. Carpenter ants, meanwhile, are reddish-brown to black in color and have a distinct waist.


Both insect species produce “swarmers.” These are winged adults that emerge in spring, and their job is to reproduce and establish new colonies.

Termite swarmers are dark brown to black and measure about an inch long. Their front and hind wings are the same lengths. Carpenter ant swarmers on-the-other-hand, are reddish-brown or black and about ¾” in length with three distinct body segments. They have two sets of wings: a longer set in the front and a smaller set in the back that are in proportion to their body.

Behavioral Differences Between Termites and Carpenter Ants

Appearance isn’t the only difference between termites and carpenter ants. They also have behavioral differences. Carpenter ants, for example, excavate wood for nesting while termites eat it. Another difference is the type of wood they prefer. Termites are interested in all wood and other cellulose materials and carpenter ants are only fond of rotting or wet wood.

Wood damage is another characteristic of both insects. Termites leave behind ragged tunnels due to transported mud, while their wood-destroying counterparts leave behind smooth tunnels with wood shavings and frass nearby.

Termite and Ant Control Specialists

No matter which pest you’re dealing with, it’s important to contact a pest control company fast. Both of these insects can cause a significant amount of damage to your home, affecting its structural integrity.

Because these pests can go unnoticed for years, it’s important to schedule regular inspections and keep an eye out for infestations.

Pioneer Pest Management has proudly served the Portland OR and Vancouver WA area since 2001. Contact us today to schedule your inspection or to learn more about our services.

The Differences Between Termites and Carpenter Ants in Portland OR and Vancouver WA

Serving Customers on the East Side:

Portland | NE Portland | Gresham | Happy Valley | Clackamas | Milwaukie | Mt Tabor | Belmont | Lloyd Center | Laurelhurst | Hollywood District

On the West Side:

Downtown Portland | Beaverton | Tigard | Hillsboro | Cornell | Sylvan | Cedar Hills

And in the Vancouver WA Area:

Downtown Vancouver | Fruit Valley | Hazel Dell | Felida | Cascade Park | Camas Washington