Do you notice holes and tunnels in your wood? Do you see piles of sawdust near these holes? These may be signs that you have termites. But before you contact an exterminator, make sure you know what kind of bug you’re dealing with.
For example, bed bugs and ticks are both small, brown, and flat. They are mistaken for one another, but some key differences exist. Ticks are more oval-shaped than bed bugs, and they have longer legs. Bed bugs feed on human blood, while ticks feed on the blood of animals.
Insect detection is an essential first step in identifying an infestation and determining the best course of treatment. Here are bugs that resemble termites—and how to tell them apart.
1) Carpenter Ants
These ants are some of the most common pests in the United States. Carpenter ants are black or brown and have a segmented body. They’re attracted to damp wood so you may find them near your bathroom or kitchen sink. If you see the bugs in your home, don’t panic! Carpenter ants do not eat wood as termite flies do.
Some key differences to look for:
- Carpenter ants have a narrow waist and large abdomen.
- Termites have a broad waist and small abdomen.
- Carpenter ants have elbowed antennae while termites have straight ones.
2) Powderpost Beetles
Beetles in the family Bostrichidae are known as powderpost beetles. There are several hundred species of this beetle, many of which can be found in North America. Powderpost beetles are small, ranging from one-eighth to three-sixteenths of an inch long. The body is narrow and cylindrical, and the head is concealed from view. These beetles are reddish-brown to black.
Powderpost beetles get their name by reducing wood to a powdery substance as they eat their way through it. The larvae of beetles tunnel through wood, leaving small, round holes behind them. Looking closely, you may see fine powdery dust around the holes. Adult beetles lay eggs in cracks in wood, and the larvae emerge to begin feeding.
Powderpost beetles prefer hardwoods, such as oak and hickory. However, they will also attack softwoods, such as pine. These beetles are particularly fond of wood already damaged by decay or water.
Unlike flying termites, powderpost beetles do not swarm. If you see one powderpost beetle, there are likely many more lurking nearby.
3) Carpenter Bees
These bees are large and black and love to drill holes into wood. If you see a bee flying around your deck or porch, it could be a carpenter bee. Carpenter bees don’t eat wood, but they will nest in it.
Carpenter bees will cause damage to your home, so it’s essential to identify them. If you see a bee that looks like a carpenter, take a picture of it and show it to an expert.
Carpenter bees are attracted to weathered wood, so if you have any old furniture or wooden structures on your property, check them for carpenter bees.
4) Acrobat Ants
These small, reddish-brown ants get their name from their ability to raise their abdomens over their thoraxes or midsections. If you see an ant doing this “handstand,” it’s likely an acrobat ant. Unlike termites with wings, acrobat ants have wings that are different in size. The front pair of acrobat ant wings are much larger than the back pair.