A Carpenter Ant Problem?
Thinking you might have carpenter ants in your home? Looking for truly safe solutions on how to get rid of them without using pesticides in your home?
Most of our customers identify their problem correctly by themselves. However, sometimes it is a different pest that creates the problem. For example, many different holes in the exterior of a log house are a problem usually caused by carpenter bees and require a different treatment.
If you are seeing very fine sawdust, almost like flour in size, you may have a powder post beetle problem.
Carpenter ants leave a sawdust that is more coarse. Often you do not see any saw dust during a carpenter ant infestation.
Identifying Carpenter Ants
Carpenter Ants have a narrow waist like wasps and an elbow bend in the middle of their antennae. Their colour is often black, sometimes mixed with red or all red. They look like regular ants, just bigger. They can range in size from � inch to � inch for workers and up to 1 inch for queens and males. During mating, which takes place during the hot summer month, the queen and males have two wings. If your critters do not have a narrow waist and no elbow bend in their antennae they are not ants but could be termites. You will want to take action quickly
Signs of Capenter Ant Infestation
- • You see large ants (up to � inch) in your home in consistently high numbers.
- •You hear a crackling, chewing noise from behind the walls, most likely in the middle of the night. That noise is not that loud. If it is and you are camping, you'd probably wish it were just ants, but it is more likely to be a bear.
- • You see large (1 inch) ants with wings flying around in your house. Those are young ant queens or males trying to establish a colony.
- • You have ants inside your home even so it's cold outside and vegetation and critters are hibernating outdoors. This is a sure sign of an ant nest inside the house and often the first sign as well. Best to deal with it right away.
- • You see little piles of sawdust ('frass') in your home; these are remnants from the excavation activities of the ant, as they do not eat the wood. Many homeowners never see saw dust because it stays inside the walls.
Mold and Carpenter Ants - What you need to know
Did you know that many homes with carpenter ants also have a mold problem? Because the ants find water damaged wood attractive, as it makes their job of chewing the wood for nesting purposes easier. If the wood stayed damp long enough for the ants to be attracted, there is often mold growth in the building materials as well. Some molds affect human health detrimentally, esp. the black molds. Learn more here...
Mold and carpenter ant damage in a structural beam. Often the water damage, mold and carpenter ant damage occur together. The mold represents a health hazard that often effects indoor air quality in a very negative way.
Carpenter ant nest above a door frame. Carpenter ants love to dig into foam insulation, wether rigid foam or spray foam. There was no visible water damage here.
Carpenter Ants at Work
Carpenter Ants are a beneficial insect species in nature. They become a problem when they build a nest in the house and can cause damage to a wood structure over time. They are not as destructive as termites as they excavate the wood for nesting purposes, but do not eat it. One indicator of a carpenter ant presence is "frass", little mounds of small wood particles somewhere in or around the house. However, in many carpenter ant infestations, this wood debris is not visible, as it remains inside the walls/floors. So do not conclude that your ants are not carpenter ants just because there is no visible wood shavings.
Why Pesticides Don't Work
Carpenter ants are difficult to eradicate with pesticides. Only a small percentage is out foraging at any given time, usually there are two nests, the nest is hidden inside the walls and there can be lots of them. Carpenter ants often do not respond to bait for very long, so baiting is usually only effective on small colonies. These ants are nocturnal and you will see more in the evening. Carpenter ant activity depends a lot on temperature, so you see many during the hot summer and less during cooler weather.
If you hear a chewing, crackling noise in the middle of the night that might be the ants putting on the addition to their nest. They will not damage a house as quickly as termites, but can do substantial damage to a wood structure over a number of years. While you do not need to panic, you do not want to ignore them either. And probably can't. If the nest is in the house, they will not go away by themselves, unless it's a cottage and the structure freezes in the wintertime. In this case they usually cannot proliferate. It's not recommended to do this with a house as water pipes can burst and frost damage can happen and you are likely only controlling the problem and not solving it. There are better ways of dealing with ants.
A Nest Inside?
How do you know if you have a nest inside? If you see a lot of carpenter ants inside, chances are their nest is inside, too. If you see just one or two ants and outside it's snowing, then you have a nest, too. If you see big ants with wings flying around in your home chances are that they came from a nest inside the house. However, if you see just a few ants in your home during the summer, they might be just looking around for water and food.
Carpenter Ants need moisture to develop their young in a nest. There is usually some initial water damage if carpenter ants move in. That damage can be minimal (like escaping steam from a dishwasher over years) or more extensive (like water backing up through the roof shingles). Watch out for mould build up if the moisture stays trapped and the building materials can't dry out. That can be a health danger to inhabitants. Once the ants have moved in, they will also use dry wood for their nesting needs. Carpenter ants also really like rigid and sprayed in foam insulation and can reduce the insulating value of these materials over time.
Three Carpenter ant queens. Note the three distinct body segments.(Termites do not have these.)