Although carpenter ants don’t cause as much damage as compared to termites and other pests, they can be problematic. They can bite, and they can leave ashes of wood on the floor. And if there is carpenter ant infestation, they can cause structural damage to the property by digging into the wood to build their nests. If the infestation continues for a long period of time, the structural damage can be extensive. So, it’s always a good idea to treat carpenter ant infestations as quickly as possible by calling a pest control service professional.
What Do Carpenter Ants Look Like?
Carpenter ants are easy to identify. They are the biggest household ants with a length between six to twelve millimeters.
Another differentiating feature is their waist. While most other insect species have two nodes at their waists, carpenter ants have one. Also, other insects have unevenly shaped thoraxes, while carpenter ants have rounded thoraxes.
The color of carpenter ants can be reddish or black. Usually, carpenter ants don’t fly, but you might see some occasional flying of mature ants to build new colonies in other locations. A flying carpenter ant usually dies after mating with the female carpenter ant, making the female the queen of the nest.
The major difference between ants and termites if that wings of carpenter ants are different from that of termites. Carpenter ants have yellowish wings, and termites have white ones.
Do Carpenter Ants Bite?
Yes, under certain circumstances, carpenter ants can bite humans. But their bites are not dangerous, and they do not transmit any disease. Their bite may feel like a pinch, and you may experience swelling or itching sensation at the site of the bite.
These are a few situations when carpenter ants are likely to bite:
- When they feel their nests are threatened, they bite in self-defense.
- When you try to attack them with a shoe or other object, they may bite.
- If you get too close to them or their nests, they may bite.
Signs of an infestation & signs of carpenter ant damage
If you spot any of these signs, there may be a possible carpenter ant infestation:
- Large black or red ants in and around your house, usually coming out from your walls, ceilings, and other cracks and crevices
- Sawdust or piles of wood shavings beneath wooden areas like door jambs, baseboards, and window sills
- Ant trails or ant paths in your lawn. It’s an indication that ants travel to forage for food and bring it to the nest
- Hear faint rustling noises in your walls or inside your woodwork
- Shed wings of “swarmer” ants near baseboards, window sills, or vents
Finding Carpenter Ant Nests
Getting rid of carpenter ants involves locating the nest and then treating it. Carpenter ants make their nest in damp, decaying wood. These nests can be found inside or outside your home. Here are some tips for locating a carpenter ant colony:
- Check woodpiles or other wooden debris outside or inside your home for the carpenter ant colony.
- Follow trailing ants back to their origin.
- Check for wood shavings. Frass or sawdust is formed when carpenter ants dig into the wood to build nests. If you see frass in your home, the ants would be somewhere inside under beams in your attic or cellar.
- Look for swarmers. Carpenter ants nesting outside your house could get in through cracks and openings in your door frames or windows. If you find them swarming inside, it’s an indication that you have a carpenter ant infestation.
- Finding dead ants. If you find dead ants around your windows, it may indicate an interior infestation.
- Check through pipes, bathroom, and rotting wood for signs of infestation.
- If you see damaged wood within or on the walls, cabinets, doors, etc., the carpenter ant colony might be located in there.
Best Ways of Getting Rid of Carpenter Ants
Set up a bait: Set up bait for the ant to take back to the nest. Mix equal parts of sugar (jam, jelly, etc.) and baking soda. Keep the mixture in a shallow dish. The ants will be attracted to the sugar, but the baking soda will kill them naturally.
Destroy scent trails. Carpenter ants use pheromone trails established by other ants to find food. If you clean the surfaces travelled by the ants, you destroy the scent. Essential oils like orange, cedarwood, lemon, etc., can be used to wipe the surfaces. You can also make a 1:2 solution of dish soap and water and spray it on the surfaces. A 1:1 combination of water and vinegar can also kill ants.
Destroy the nest. Once you’ve located the nest, you need to destroy it. In the area where you suspect the nest, drill 1/8″ holes every six inches. Then dust it with boric acid. The boric acid will kill the ants. You may have to repeat the process multiple times to completely destroy the nest.
How to Prevent Carpenter Ants?
Follow these simple tips to prevent carpenter ants from entering your home:
- Seal all food tightly in closed containers
- Keep your home clean—particularly the windowsills, kitchen, countertops, and flooring
- Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink
- Keep food storage areas free of food residue and crumbs
- Clean spilled food immediately
- Take the trash out regularly, and keep the trash cans clean and sealed
- Remove or get rid of unnecessary moisture both inside and outside your home
- Seal any cracks, crevices, and holes with sealant
- Keep tree branches away from the walls of the house
- Do not store firewood inside or right outside your home
Always watch out for signs of carpenter ant infestations. If you suspect an infestation, contact a licensed residential pest control professional. Early intervention in getting rid of carpenter ants will ensure less serious damage to your property.