Similar to termites, carpenter ants damage wood by hollowing it out from the inside. Unlike their counterparts, however, they do not eat wood — only build their nest inside it. As a result, damage done to wood by carpenter ants is generally far less extensive.
Carpenter ants can be distinguished from termites by their pinched-in abdomen, jointed antennae, and forewings that are longer than their hind wings.
Additionally, carpenter ant tunnels are smooth in appearance, where termite tunnels are rough. Carpenter ants will also leave their nest to forage, and to pile “frass” (sawdust, insect parts, and pupil casings) in locations away from the nest.
Both carpenter ants and termites are moisture-loving creates, and are particularly attracted to moldy, rot-damaged wood.