Ants and termites are common pests in your home or business, and both pose serious dangers. However, in California, we have many different types of ants that you should understand, especially since some can look like termites, but pose various dangers than termites, like carpenter ants.
We also have fire ants here, which means you should understand the differences between carpenter ants vs. fire ants beyond the way they each look.
Carpenter Ants vs. Fire Ants – Understanding Different Types of Ants
While we have many different types of ants, and all are pests, there is one type of carpenter and two types of fire ants in southern California. Not only do carpenter ants and fire ants look different, but they also behave differently from one another.
What Are Carpenter Ants?
Carpenter ants are large, black, and quite scary-looking. If you see them inside your house, you might think you have an infestation of the world’s scariest ant. These ants like sweets, and live in tree stumps, fence posts, firewood, and hollow wooden door and window frames.
In other words, we call them carpenter ants because they like living inside wood.
What Are Fire Ants?
Fire ants are much smaller than carpenter ants, and they’re red or amber in color. Like carpenter ants, they like sweets, but they also like proteins. While they occasionally make their nests in wood, you’re more likely to find them in the ground or spaces behind walls.
Fire ants sting rather than bite, and their stings cause an intense burning sensation, which is why they are called fire ants.
How You Get Different Types of Ants in Your Home
Different types of ants come into your home primarily because of food sources. If you tend to leave food and food waste out, don’t clean up dishes and residue regularly, or otherwise create an attractive environment, you’ll get ants.
Carpenter Ants vs. Fire Ants – the Dangers They Pose
Ants are beneficial outdoors, especially in gardens. However, carpenter ants can damage buildings, while fire ants not only sting but can spread disease. All ants can contaminate food with harmful bacteria.
If you see ants in their natural environments outdoors, that’s one thing. But whether they’re carpenter ants, fire ants, or other different types of ants, you don’t want them inside.
The Differences Between Ants and Termites
Ants and termites look very much alike, and if you have carpenter ants, you’ll probably have a tough time telling them apart.
However, there are a few ways you can determine whether you have carpenter ants or termites:
- Carpenter ants appear to have a waist, while termites do not
- Termites have straight, beaded antennae while carpenter ants’ antennae are bent
- Mud tubes, roughly the width of a pencil, running along bricks or concrete towards wooden parts of your home indicate termites
- Little piles of sawdust-like material, or frass, indicate carpenter ants