Carpenter ants have become a widespread problem throughout the Eastern United States. They make their nests in damp, dead wood and create tunnels so they can easily navigate through the structure. Carpenter ants are small but the damage a colony can cause is not.
What happens if your home or business becomes infested with carpenter ants? You might be wondering, what should I do if I have carpenter ants? However, it’s also important to know what you shouldn’t do when it comes to carpenter ants.
Not properly identifying the type of ant infestation
Termites and carpenter ants cause similar damage to damp, dead wood. Oftentimes, you’ll see piles of wood shavings near wood that’s infested with either termites or carpenter ants. But in order to eradicate the infestation, you have to make sure you’re treating your property for the correct pest. Carpenter ants are black ants with segmented bodies that measure in at ¼-⅜ inches long. Termites or “white ants” don’t have segmented bodies and have a large head.
A carpenter ant problem can be difficult to detect if you’re unfamiliar with their life cycle and habits. To identify a developing or existing issue with these destructive household bugs, and help prevent extensive damage to your home, it’s wise to learn more about the ants’ behavior and preferences, such as their:
Nesting habits - Nests or parent colonies that house the queen and broods of newly-laid eggs are typically built outdoors in tree stumps or roots, rotted logs, or decaying boards. A large colony can develop smaller satellite colonies composed of worker ants, mature larvae, and pupae. These are the colonies that most often find a home indoors because they can tolerate drier environments.
Optimal conditions - Carpenter ants often build their nests in wooden building components found in moist and damp areas, like a basement, in a bathroom, or under a kitchen sink or dishwasher. However, satellite colonies can also set up house in drier spots like behind siding, in wall voids, window or door frames, attic or wall insulation, or hollow wooden doors.
Invasion tactics - These ants might enter your home through wet and deteriorating wood structural components. Alternately, they can get in through cracks and gaps around the foundation, windows or exterior doors, and penetrations for vents, pipes, or wiring, or even by excavating tunnels through intact wood.
Ignore signs of carpenter ant damage
Carpenter ants are known to cause the most damage of all the different species of ants that commonly infest structures. Typically black in color, these relentless insects will threaten the structural stability of homes by digging into wood to build their nests.
The amount of damage a carpenter ant infestation can inflict on a property can vary. If a colony has been actively infesting a property for a long period of time, the structural damage can be very extensive. That's why it's crucial to have infestations treated as quickly as possible by a licensed professional.
Common carpenter ant infestation signs are:
Carpenter ants crawling in a building or home - Everyone is familiar with the tiny red and black ants that infiltrate kitchens to look for food. But if you are finding an increasing number of large ants, carpenter ants may have made a nest. Small black ants won’t be more than about 6 millimeters in length, while carpenter ants will reach up to 12 millimeters in length, with queens reaching 20 millimeters. Granted, one or two of these larger ants do not mean your home has been invaded—they might just be workers looking for food. However, if you begin finding them often, the chances are that they have made a nest inside of the woodwork of your structure.
Carpenter ants crawling out of holes or crevices in home - Another critical sign is large winged ants coming from walls, vents, ceilings, or other crevices around your house. This means the ants are getting ready to swarm and breed, which is a sure sign that carpenter ants have invaded your home.
Piles of wood shavings - Frass is the term for the wood particles that carpenter ants discard around their nests. It looks like finely ground up sawdust. The ants will leave frass deposits in small mounds at the entrances to their nests. Carpenter ants don’t actually eat wood; they just chop it up in their mandibles and remove it from their tunnels. It has to go somewhere, so they drop it from their nesting hole entrances. This is the most easily recognizable sign of a carpenter ant infestation.
Faint rustling noise in walls - Rustling noises in your beams or studs are generally a sign that you have a carpenter ant problem. The sound will not be easy to detect, but you can hear it by putting your ear up to a suspected piece of wood and listening carefully.
If you have spotted any of these signs, it’s important to not ignore them! Carpenter ant infestations only get worse as time goes on. Early detection is the best way to prevent further damage from carpenter ants.
Carpenter Ant Wood Galleries
One sign of carpenter ant damage is the appearance of small, circular galleries on the surface of the wood. The worker carpenter ants will excavate sawdust-like debris around or below the exit holes. Inside the galleries will appear smooth and free of debris.
The first line of defense most people turn to when it comes to ant infestations are DIY ant control solutions. This often includes borax or natural remedies like cinnamon. At first, these remedies might be effective, but will they eradicate the entire colony? Not likely.
The only way to ensure carpenter ants won’t return is by eliminating the colony. It’s one thing to apply treatment to a couple ants you see scurrying across your kitchen counters, but it won’t do much unless you get the source of your ant infestation.
Not calling a pest control company
A pest control company is the best line of defense when it comes to eliminating carpenter ants and any pests for that matter. Unlike other ant control methods, the ant infestation removal services of a pest control company can ensure ants will be gone and won’t return. Pest specialists will also be able to provide you with ant prevention tips.
Not preventing carpenter ants from returning
Once a carpenter ant infestation has been removed, it’s important to take measures to protect your home from ants in the future.
Seal entrance points like doors, windows and building foundations
Keep food in airtight containers
Clean food and drink spills immediately
Trim trees and bushes to keep away from home
Drawn to moisture, colonies of carpenter ants will infiltrate homes and build nests in wood near windows, doorframes, attics, chimneys, bathtubs, and any other area in your home where water and wood interact to cause rotting. These areas can be identified by discolored, water-stained wood, paneling, drywall or ceiling tile.
Professional ant control services
Dust material application In many situations the use a dust material will be used to find and eliminate nests of carpenter ants in the interior of a home. A pesticidal dust bulb and extension can reach into void areas and, when properly applied, the dust will float and thoroughly cover the hidden areas where carpenter ants can hide within a structure.
Dust material treatments will be applied from the inside and will be followed up by a treatment from the outside. The two-fold approach helps to ensure that no hidden areas where nests may exist are overlooked.
Perimeter treatments A treatment using non-repellent materials will be applied to the perimeter, focusing in on trails of carpenter ants that have been identified and problem areas where trails can potentially appear. The treatment can extend from the ground to any parts of the home’s exterior that the insects could use to enter the property.
The specialist will also apply the treatment to any cracks in the home’s foundation by which carpenter ants and many other insects frequently use to enter residences.
Carpenter ant nest treatments Nest and barrier treatments are another component of Ehrlich’s carpenter ant control solutions. It is crucial that all nests are detected and treated in order to rid the home of all ongoing carpenter ant treatments. It can often be very difficult to spot carpenter ant nests without a trained eye and the right equipment. That’s why it is crucial to contact pest control professionals in the instance that your home faces a carpenter ant problem.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your carpenter ant infestation, your local Ehrlich Pest Control pest specialist is only a phone call away. Your dedicated pest specialist will devise a comprehensive ant control solution plan to remove ants and prevent them from returning in the future. Call us at 800-837-5520 or contact us online to find out how you can start benefiting from professional carpenter ant control.