What’s the Difference Between Fire Ants and Carpenter Ants in Tallahassee, FL?

Ants are the most common household pests and can be challenging to control once an infestation occurs. Being familiar with different types of ants can help you accurately identify the variety you see in your home or yard. Two common types of ants in Tallahassee, FL are fire ants and carpenter ants. Distinguishing the two can help you keep your home and family safe from the damage these pests can cause. Fire ants and carpenter ants differ in their appearance, nesting habits, and potentially hazardous behavior.

What are fire ants?

Fire ants range in color, from bright red to black and are very tiny compared to carpenter ants, ranging from ⅛ to ¼ inch long. Fire ants will sting if they feel threatened. Those who are stung multiple times by fire ants experience a burning sensation, like the site of the bite is “on fire.” These painful stings can result in welts, itching, and discoloration. The effects of being stung by a fire ant can last up to 10 days, and even longer for those who are allergic. Fire ants are especially aggressive, so it’s imperative that you avoid them at all costs.

What do carpenter ants look like?

Carpenter ants are black or dark brown and sometimes a mixture of orange and black. They are easier to identify than most other ants because of their large size. Carpenter ants are ¼ to ⅜ inches long and have a narrow waist and bent antennae. These large ants live in colonies in and around human-made structures where moisture exists. They tunnel into wood to create nests that expand as the colony grows. Although extensive damage won’t happen overnight, carpenter ants are wood-destroying insects that cause more problems as time goes on. Unlike fire ants, carpenter ants usually don’t bite.

Do fire ants or carpenter ants cause damage?

Fire ants make nests that look like large dirt mounds, which if disturbed, will explode with ants ready to attack. These mounds are created in moist soil around landscaping, golf courses, parks, and lawns. Fire ants can be a nuisance as normal activities such as mowing, gardening, and picnicking can result in stings. These mounds aren’t physically dangerous, and they will not bore through wood like carpenter ants. However, fire ants don’t always live in mounds, and fire ants are attracted to electricity. They can flood utility boxes and exposed electrical outlets, clogging the unit and possibly leading to short- circuiting and resulting in damage. For that reason, homeowners should call Capelouto as soon as fire ants or their mounds are spotted on their property.

Carpenter ants create nests in moist or weakened wooden areas like hollow trees, doors, ceilings, walls suffering from water damage, door frames, window frames, decking, and more. While carpenter ants don’t eat wood, they can cause damage to it by tunneling through it. Unfortunately, damage isn’t always visible because they nest within areas. Evidence of carpenter ant activity can be small piles of wood shavings found on the nesting entry points. This material, called “frass”, is a result of the ants moving wood out of the way to expand the nest. If you find carpenter ants in or around your home, then you probably have rotting wood or excessive moisture nearby.

How do I get rid of fire ants and carpenter ants?

Fire ants are very dangerous, so you should not take matters into your own hands. If you suspect that you have fire ants, please give Capelouto a call for fast and professional service. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent fire ant infestations, rather than act quickly.

Carpenter ants are very tough to get rid of on your own. Consumer products that you can find at big box retailers look like an inexpensive alternative, but they cannot solve the infestation like a professional can because they do not get to the root of the problem. Without the knowledge of carpenter ant biology and the skills to implement the proper techniques with professional materials, store-bought ant control products are essentially a waste of money and your time. Carpenter ants come back year after year if their nests are not targeted properly and destroyed. To prevent carpenter ants, ensure that you repair and replace areas of your home that suffer from water damage. Seal cracks and crevices around the exterior of your home to prevent pests of all kinds, including fire ants and carpenter ants.

Why does ant control pricing vary between companies?

When researching pest control companies that offer ant control services, you might notice differences in pricing. This pricing depends on a variety of factors such as:

  • Quality: Companies that use high-quality professional pest control products will usually have increased pricing.
  • Guarantee: Some companies offer unlimited service until they get rid of the infestation, while some only provide a one-time service. Guaranteed service is often more expensive because technicians spend more time at your home and they will most often return to treat the problem for free if the issue persists.
  • Expertise: Companies with consistent, professional industry retraining are going to offer more expensive services. Smaller pest control companies often rely on their personal experience instead of constant training.

If you’re looking to get rid of fire ants or carpenter ants in your home, do your research before settling for the first inexpensive company that comes along. Carefully consider which of the elements listed above are most important to you, and make it a priority to find a company that matches all of them.

At Capelouto Termite & Pest Control, we can get rid of fire ant and carpenter ant infestations, regardless of where they are in your home or business. Our trained and certified pest control technicians have decades of experience combating ants. To learn more about our ant control services, click here. Are you ready to start professional ant elimination services? Call us or fill out the contact form on this page to schedule a free ant inspection at your home.