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10 Things You Should Know About Black Carpenter Ants

Jun 20, 2022 -- Posted by : Thomas Pest Control

Carpenter ants are a common insect found in most woodland areas throughout the United States. As a species, these ants can vary in size and color, but they are typically the largest ant species found in North Carolina; and black carpenter ants are the species that most often nest in homes.

Although less detrimental than termites in the southern states, an undetected carpenter ant problem can still lead to significant damage and costly repairs to your home. Here we will outline some of the most important things homeowners should know about carpenter ants, such as where they live, what attracts them, and when to worry about a possible infestation.

Carpenter Ant Basics

Where do they live?

Outside, carpenter ant nests are often found in dead trees, tree stumps, log piles, or wooden planters. They're attracted to soft woods or wood that has already sustained damage from moisture, mold, or other fungi.

Even though they primarily attack wood that is already weakened, if such wood is near your home they can also begin to excavate dry, undamaged wood found around doors, windows, or decks.

What do they eat?

Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not actually eat wood. Although you may see sawdust-like shavings left behind from their work, these are made from the ants' efforts to create smooth, hollow galleries in the wood.

Carpenter ants actually feed on honeydew, plant secretions, and fruit juices when they're outside of the home. If they invade a home, they seek out similarly sweet items, such as sugar. If there are no sweets to be found, carpenter ants will also feed on grease, fats, and meats that are available to them.

When are they most active?

Carpenter ants can be active throughout the day, but tend to be most active between dusk and dawn (overnight). This nocturnal activity allows them to go mostly unnoticed once they have nested in a home.

Tips for Avoiding a Carpenter Ant Infestation

1. Monitor moisture content in and around your home.

Water is a necessity for carpenter ants to survive. If possible, eliminate the possibility for standing water to accumulate around your home, and do not leave standing water in sinks or tubs indoors.

This also means checking for soft or rotting wood around doors, windows, gutters, et cetera; keeping gutters and downspouts clear and crawlspaces well-ventilated.

2. Inspect your home for any small holes or cracks.

Carpenter ants can come into a home in a variety of ways. Ensure that all doors and windows are properly sealed; and inspect foundations for cracks, as well.

3. Keep the immediate area around your home free from clutter and debris.

Since carpenter ants prefer wood with a moisture content of 15 percent or higher, storing items that will collect moisture near the home should be avoided. Stack wood piles away from homes, sheds, and other outbuildings to avoid possible carpenter ant problems.

Although they typically enter homes through small holes or cracks in the structure itself, they can gain access to such areas from tree limbs or shrubs that touch your home's roof or siding. If you like to plant flowers or other ornamentals, applying a liquid insecticide can help keep carpenter ants (and other unwanted pests) at bay.

When to Worry About Carpenter Ants

Although you may see ants in or around your home, occasionally, that does not mean they're nesting there! Keep an eye out for these things to indicate that carpenter ants have become a serious problem.

    1. You begin to notice swarmers (winged ants) indoors, emerging from around the baseboards, vents, and window casings at night. This is typically an indication that carpenter ants have formed a nest underneath the home. You may even be able to trace a line of ants back outside to a nearby nest.

    2. You notice ants (workers) around sinks, showers, or dishwashers in early spring. This class of carpenter ant is foraging for water to bring back to the nest.

    3. Noise: Mature carpenter ant colonies that have infested a home will make an audible rustling or gnawing sound coming from the wood they are nesting in.

    4. Noticeable wood damage from carpenter ants will have slit-like openings that follow the wood grain with the softer "springwood" rings being excavated first before they begin to tunnel through the harder summerwood, in order to expand or connect galleries. Gallery walls will be fairly smooth, similar to dry wood termite damage, but free from any wood fiber debris. Remember: Carpenter ants remove the debris they create from tunneling, leaving behind a sawdust-like fiber that can help you in your search for their nesting location.


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