How to know if you have carpenter ants?
Carpenter ants are one of the worst pests you can encounter in your home due to their small size and stealthiness. What makes them particularly harmful and difficult to spot is the fact that they chew on the inside of wood and create tunnels for their colonies so that they can easily navigate through the structure of your home.
Although carpenter ants do not spread disease, they can significantly damage the structure of your home. Unlike other species of ants, these can be difficult to locate and require professional treatment in order to get rid of them.
How do you identify a carpenter ant?
The carpenter ant is one of the largest species of ants so it is recognizable by its large size. It measures between 1 and 2 centimeters and is usually black or a very dark color. Carpenter ants have overdeveloped heads and mandibles that help them chip away at wood. They are winged insects that lose their wings during mating.
They live in groups and are generally more active in spring and summer. They feed on insects and everything that people eat. Carpenter ants multiply quickly and can become a real threat to your home due to the many nests they can build in a short period of time.
They are often mistaken for termites, but it is easy to tell them apart, as carpenter ants have articulated, bent antennae and a well-defined size, unlike termites which have thick, straight antennae and do not have a defined size.
What are the risks associated with a carpenter ant invasion?
Carpenter ants are wood eaters, so an invasion can seriously damage the structure of your home. While building their nest, they dig into the wood of your structure, creating small holes that in the long run can weaken and destroy the structure of your home. They particularly like rotten or water infiltrated wood and hide in your homes to feed and take refuge from the winter cold.
Signs of a carpenter ant invasion
The level of damage that a carpenter ant infestation can inflict on a home varies depending on how long the ants remain active in the home. If a colony has been actively infesting a house for a long time, the damage can be severe. This is why it is essential that infestations be detected and treated as quickly as possible by a pest management expert.
Here are some signs of a carpenter ant infestation:
1. Presence of carpenter ants inside your home?
Upon arriving at your house, the carpenter ant queen sends out the so-called worker ants to search for food and water. If you see one, take it as a warning. They have a wide range of foods that they can eat and which are easier to find outside. So even if you only encounter one or two ants inside your house, there is a chance that you have an infestation.
2. Winged ants coming out of holes or crevices in doors, windows, etc.?
During the mating period, carpenter ants lose their wings. If you notice multiple wings accumulated on your windowsills, floors, or any other surface, be sure to contact a professional exterminator. You might also spot wings stuck in cobwebs.
3. Presence of sawdust?
As carpenter ants build their nests around the house, they leave a trail of sawdust that usually leads to their nests. In fact, it is likely that this is the very place where ant colonies have infiltrated your home.
Contrary to popular belief, carpenter ants do not eat wood, rather they use it to build their nests. You could therefore find wood chips on the ground, near door holes or crevices, in your basement, in your garage or any isolated place. Sawdust can get stuck to walls or pile up on surfaces.
4. Damage to wooden structures?
If carpenter ants infest your property, you will notice areas of damaged wood. Ideally, you will find this damage on external structures (fence, patio, shed, etc.). The damage caused by carpenter ants sometimes resembles damage caused by termites and can take different forms: tunnels, galleries, holes, rotten wood, etc. You are likely to find damage in wet or humid areas (on fence posts, at the base of buildings where wood touches the ground, on wood in shaded areas, etc.).
5. Rustling sound in walls or ceilings?
This is usually not a telltale sign since the noise produced by carpenter ants is very low, if not inaudible. However, if you hear a cracking or grinding noise in your walls or ceilings, it could be the rustle coming from their nests.
Tips to get rid of carpenter ants
Prevention is often the best solution. To prevent carpenter ants from infiltrating your home, the first thing you have to do is to perform a complete inspection of the exterior of your property and the surrounding land since the presence of a nest near your home greatly increases the risk of infestation inside your home.
Be sure to examine wood surfaces near windows, door frames, attics, fireplaces, bathtubs, and any other places where water and wood could interact to cause moisture or humidity. These areas should be duly inspected since humidity makes the wood more fragile and therefore more vulnerable to attacks.
Here are some preventive measures that you can apply:
- Seal all cracks and crevices in your home that can serve as entry points such as doors, windows and building foundations?
- Cover and store food in airtight containers?
- Clean up food and drink spills immediately?
- Eliminate any humidity problem inside or around your home?
- Get rid of rotten or decayed wood?
- Store firewood away from your home, keeping it dry and elevated ?
- Thoroughly inspect your firewood before taking it inside your home?
- Remove rotten or dead trees nearby?
Identify and destroy nests?
The most effective way to get rid of carpenter ants is to find the nest and destroy it. The most common places to find carpenter ant nests are hollow doors, window sills, ceilings... It may seem easy to spot, but it is sometimes very difficult to find these nests for several reasons:
- Carpenter ants are small nocturnal beasts. You often have to wait until night to find sawdust that will lead you to the nest.?
- Carpenter ants don't move around in great numbers, so a trace of sawdust is even more difficult to spot.?
- Carpenter ants build several nests, which guarantees the survival of the colony even if a nest is destroyed.?
If you manage to follow the piles of sawdust on the ground and it leads you to a nest, you might be tempted to use the first insecticide or poison, but it is strongly recommended not to use these products since when they are misused they can constitute a danger for your children or pets. If you still want to do the treatment yourself, opt for borax products instead.
Contact an exterminator?
Carpenter ants are very tough and resilient insects. They are nearly impossible to eliminate on your own, and if you don't exterminate them all, they will keep coming back to damage your home. The most effective solution to getting rid of your carpenter ant problem is to hire a pest control specialist. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like more information about our extermination services.