Carpenter Ants are NOT the Problem, They are the Symptom

Sure, as carpenter ants burrow into wood to create their nests, your home is slowly getting destroyed from the inside out.

But carpenter ants don’t generally nest in nice dry areas free of food stuffs. They prefer moist, rotting wood. Carpenter ants indicate a bigger problem in the home.

Carpenter Ants Like High Moisture

Carpenter ants like areas with high moisture, especially wood that is in contact with the soil. Soft moist wood is easy to burrow into. They prefer areas where ventilation is poor, and areas with exposed structural lumber. Often, a carpenter ant nest is developed in  dead trees, stumps, logs or decorative landscape wood as it softens and rots. Stacked wood for a fireplace also attracts carpenter ants.

Finding and removing colonies of carpenter ants early minimizes chances of entering the home as it takes 3 to 6 years before a carpenter ant colony develops reproductive winged males and queens that look for new nesting ground (in your home, for example).

How Carpenter Ants Enter the Home

To find the source of entry into your home, look for piles of sawdust-like borings and slit-like openings in woodwork. Carpenter ants will actually “knock” back from the inside of the wall if you knock. To track them down, listen for a dry rustling noise that can be heard best at night during high ant activity, and when your home is quiet. Hold a wine glass or a stethoscope up to the wall to hear better.

If you see winged ants trying to escape to the outdoors, usually in the spring, it’s a good indication they are in your home.

Sawdust around brick like this is a telltale sign of carpenter ants.

Carpenter Ants do NOT Eat Wood

Despite popular belief, carpenter ants do not eat wood, they burrow in it, throwing the wood aside as as they burrow in sawdust-like shavings. Carpenter ants eat plants and animal matter, not wood. They enjoy feasting on insects, other small invertebrates, and sweet body fluids from aphids and other insects. Protein and sweet foods found in and around homes also provide food for foraging workers. Fruit trees are ideal.

Carpenter ants build nests by burrowing into wood. They dig tunnels (called galleries) much longer than those created by termites. The wood is not eaten, but thrown from the nest as sawdust-like shavings.

How do I Prevent Carpenter Ants from Wanting to Enter my Home?

  • Clear away any decaying or infested wood from around buildings.
  • Remove firewood from inside your home and away from the side of your home.
  • Make sure there are no tree stumps or other wood debris close to your house.
  • Don’t use bark or driftwood as decoration when landscaping.
  • Make sure you don’t have high humidity areas in your home.
  • Replace decaying or infested structural wood with dry sound material.
  • Discourage ants from invading buildings by ensuring food sources are not available. A compost should be placed far from the house.
  • Keep food in sealed containers and regularly sweep up all crumbs and other food fragments.
  • Keep your home clean.