Monthly Archives: September 2015

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants have an interesting name. They are indeed, hard workers, however, their work damages wood, rather than creating with it. They carve “galleries” in decaying, rotting or already rotted wood. In doing so, they create extensive pathways to their nests accelerating the decay of the wood. This is beneficial in forest environments, but can be a nuisance, or even dangerous in a home as they can damage wood construction.

They can leave behind a material similar to sawdust called frass that provides clues to their nesting location. Carpenter ant galleries are smooth and very different from termite-damaged areas, which have mud packed into hollowed-out areas.

In addition to accelerating the decay process, they eat dead insects or by-products of insects. Carpenter ants are foragers. Their favorite food is a substance created by aphids called “honey-dew.” They also enjoy secretions from some plants. By all accounts, carpenter ants provide necessary services to our environment. But when they create their galleries in wood in your home, that’s when they can be a problem.

Common indoor carpenter ant nest sites include around the dishwasher and pipes, under cabinets, attics, leaky windows, roofs, and doors, and voids in the wall and garage door jams. Common outdoor nest sites include trees, old woodpiles, decks, tree stumps, wooded lots, fences and adjacent buildings. Carpenter ants can quickly create colonies in one building adjacent to a building where there is a nest. Treating the yard is recommended as well.

Carpenter ants are nocturnal, so you won’t see much activity during the day. Occasionally you may see flying carpenter ants. This is during mating season as they mate in flight. The males subsequently die and the females shed their wings to go create a new nest. So, if you see swarms of flying ants that last for an extended period of time, they may not be carpenter ants, but termites instead.

However, if you do see ants, even just a few that means more than likely there are many more in a nearby nest, so treating the ones you see isn’t a complete way to rid your home of them. The perimeter of your home should be treated on a regular basis.

Home remedies are not generally effective with carpenter ants. Due to the extensive galleries and clues they leave, professional pest control is the best way to rid your home of these ants.