Seeing and having ants inside your home is never a pleasant experience. Sugar and carpenter ants are two of the most common species of ants you may encounter in your home.
While they look very similar, there are subtle differences that will help you identify which type of ant has invaded your living space.
Sugar ants, also known as odorous ants, look like tiny, brown ants that can be found in large groups. They vary from 1/16-1/8 of an inch long and are attracted to sweet foods like sugar, honey, and syrup. These types of ants will secrete a foul smell when crushed.
On the other hand, carpenter ants are larger in size and range from 1/4-1/2 of an inch long. They are usually black or red in color and get their name because they build nests in wood, like your walls and furniture.
Identifying the Difference Between Sugar and Carpenter Ants
Aside from their size, the biggest difference between sugar and carpenter ants is their behavior. Sugar ants will feed on sweets and can be found in large groups, while carpenter ants prefer protein-rich foods like insects, meat, and eggs.
The sugary content of the food you find near ants will also help you identify which type of ant has invaded your home. If there is a sugary residue around the ants, it’s likely that you have sugar ants.
On the other hand, if there is sawdust or wood shavings around them, then you probably have carpenter ants.
The reason behind sawdust or wood shavings is that carpenter ants will burrow into wood and create tunnels to build their nests. While sugar ants don’t do this, they may still be found near wood because of the food sources around them.
If you’re still having difficulties checking which type of ant you have at home, closely inspect parts of your home with wood.
Do you have decayed wood? Usually, carpenter ants start smaller colonies from there and build and expand their nests in nearby wood.
If you’ve started seeing flying ants, then it means that the colony has matured enough and may have been lingering on your property for about 4 years at least.
Sugar ants, on the other hand, are more attracted to moisture and humid places like bathrooms and kitchens.
These places usually have sweet food sources like syrup, sugary drinks, and other sweets that can be found in the pantry or kitchen cabinets.
When you crush these ants, they usually secrete a foul smell. The foul smell is a sure sign that you have sugar ants in your home.
Do You Need Two Separate Ant Treatment Solutions for Both Types?
Whether one or both types of ants are causing you trouble, you can use the same ant treatments for both sugar and carpenter ants.
Ant gels and baits, for example, can be used for both types. Lysol, alcohol, diatomaceous earth, and borax can also be used to get rid of sugar ants and carpenter ants.
Ant gel bait works by attracting the ants, who then carry the bait back to their nests and share it with other ants in the colony.
This is by far considered to be one of the simplest yet most effective ways of killing both types of ants. Since these ants carry the poison back to their colony, their queen and eggs will be eventually killed, eliminating the entire colony.
As always, if you’re in doubt or if you feel that the infestation is more severe than you’ve expected it to be, you can always hire the expertise and experience of a certified pest control professional to get the job done.
Pest control services eliminate the guesswork on your end, and they will use their experience to target the problem’s source and get rid of it for good.
Final Thoughts: Carpenter vs. Sugar Ants
At one glance, both sugar and carpenter ants may have similar appearances and characteristics, but a closer look suggests otherwise.
Closely monitoring their behavior, their colors, and even the places you’d normally find them will help you determine the kind of ant you’re dealing with.
Though both types of ants can be killed by the same treatments, it’s still important to identify which kind of ant is causing you trouble first.
This way, you’ll be able to efficiently target the infestation and be able to finally address the problem and get rid of them for good.