Carpenter Ants vs Termites

Carpenter Ants vs Termites

Both termites and carpenter ants are famous for their ability to destroy wood and most of the cellulose media. Therefore, it might lead someone to understand that carpenter ants and termites are closely related. In fact, they are closely related in terms of insects (same taxonomic class), but in two taxonomic orders. Their habits and habitats would be important to understand most of the differences between them.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are members of the Genus: Camponotus of Family: Formicidae in Order: Hymenoptera. There are more than one thousand species of carpenter ants distributed in many places of the world. This many number of species for one particular genus is a real speciality about the carpenter ants. Their high ecological adaptability could be one of the reasons for their extraordinary diversification. Carpenter ants could be found in many habitats including dead woods, moist woods, tree roots, tree stumps, tree logs, and many other places. Sometimes they are found living inside soil, especially when parts of trees are buried. Carpenter ants could be found at both inside and outside of many types of wood.

It has been discovered that carpenter ants have a symbiotic relationship with a bacteria known as Blochmannia. Wolbachia is another bacterial symbiotic organism of the carpenter ants. The ant provides the living environment for bacteria, while they get biosynthesized essential amino acids and nutrients in return from the microorganism. Carpenter ants show a very interesting behaviour that they do not feed on the wood, yet they do destroy the inhabited wood. After destroying the habitat, the remnants would be a fine dust of wood called frass. Carpenter ants develop wings as they grow into the last stage of the lifecycle, the reproductive age.


Termites evolved on the Earth 140 million years ago. Termites belong to the Order: Isoptera with about 4000 estimated species. There are more than 2600 described termite species by far. Sometimes, the termites are called as ‘white ants’ because of the typical colour of their body. In addition, the termite bodies are soft, and they do not have a very distinct waist. Their habitats can be either soil or wood. It is said that the termites are eusocial animals; i.e. they have a very higher level of social organization. The colonies consist of different castes depending on the size of the individual. Nest workers, foragers, and soldiers. Both male and female termites can fall into any category. Nest workers care for the eggs and make the nest by chewing the wood, in case of a wooden habitat. Foragers are responsible for finding food while the soldiers are always guarding the home against attacks because there are frequent attacks by ants on the termite colonies. In the termites’ social structure, any individual can progress up to the reproductive stage (wings are developed by now) to mate with a female. Once a male finds the sexual partner, the wings are shed for the rest of the life.

What is the difference between Carpenter Ants and Termites?

• Termites are isopterans while carpenter ants are hymenopterans.

• Termites are composed of a number of genera while there is only one genus in carpenter ants.

• There are more termite species than carpenter ants.

• The wings of termites are of the same size whereas carpenter ants have noticeably large front wings.

• Carpenter ants have pointed wings, while termites have paddle-shaped wings.

• Termite wings are not attached as tightly as in carpenter ants.

• Termites have straight antennae, but those in carpenter ants are curved or bent.

• Carpenter Ants have a thin and narrow waist, but termites have a broad waist.

• Carpenter ants have three distinct body segments, while termites have only two body segments.