How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants, scientifically denoted as Camponotus Spp, inhabit forests across the globe, including those in North America. It’s a common misconception that carpenter ants eat wood for sustenance, not unlike termites. However, they don’t eat wood at all; they chew it up and spit it out, resulting in sawdust-like wood shavings called frass. This arduous process creates a hollow area for their nest. Unfortunately, the efforts of carpenter ants typically go unnoticed by humans, occurring deep within forests, far from civilization – just as they do when they’re occurring in your own home.
Although they’re less common than other domestic pests, such as cockroaches, mosquitoes, and bed bugs, the consequences of a carpenter ant infestation are no less severe. Carpenter ants have an excruciating bite and they can compromise the structural integrity of your house. So if these tiny pests have invaded your living space, consider this advice, and you’ll know how to get rid of carpenter ants.
What Exactly are Carpenter Ants
There are numerous species of carpenter ant, and, like their range of habitat, the color and size of each vary. Typically, the ants are brownish-black or black in color and measure between a quarter-inch and an inch in length. Carpenter ants live in large colonies, with each ant serving a designated purpose, such as a queen, swarmers, and worker ants.
The black carpenter ant is the largest and most common carpenter ant species in North America. They are roughly one inch long, and they inhabit every state between the Rocky Mountains and the eastern seaboard.
The characteristic that separates carpenter ants from other ants is their ability to build nests inside wood sources like tree stumps or wood piles. They will then search for rotting wood or damaged wood spots from which they can enter.
Once the ants locate a spot, they begin chewing through the surface and tunneling into the wood, leaving tiny piles of debris behind. Eventually, creating a void sufficient to make a nest to house the entire colony.
Are Carpenter Ants Dangerous?
Ants do bite humans, but a carpenter ants bite is agonizing, commonly causing mild redness and swelling in the bite area. These bite symptoms can be treated using a topical anti-inflammatory cream and should subside within a few days. However, carpenter ants only bite when provoked or threatened, and they rarely bite humans. Aside from the pain caused by their bite, they are generally considered harmless to humans. Just because they aren’t dangerous, however, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get rid of carpenter ants when you have them.
Are Carpenter Ants a Serious Problem?
Carpenter ants can wreak havoc on your home by chewing through its wooden structural components. This damage is usually cosmetic, but if several colonies of these ants have taken refuge in your home, their propensity for creating voids in the lumber could cause severe structural issues. For this reason, knowing how to recognize carpenter ants and the signs of an infestation is crucial.
How to Identify Carpenter Ants
Learning how to identify carpenter ants is vital in confirming the existence of these pests in your home. It can be somewhat tricky to distinguish these pests from other ants, but one thing to consider is their size. These ants can grow to over an inch in length. In addition, they are typically dark brown or black, or a combination of these colors.
There are two types of hunter ants in carpenter ant colonies: soldiers and workers. And although it may seem counterintuitive, the soldiers venture out great distances to hunt for food, sometimes traveling more than 100 yards from the nest, while the smaller worker ants remain close to the nest. Therefore, if you see two differently sized ants moving about, they are most likely carpenter ants.
What are the Signs of a Carpenter Ant Infestation
While positively identifying carpenter ants can be difficult if you’re not a board-certified entomologist or a pest control expert, it’s much easier to recognize the signs of their infestation. As mentioned, there are many species of winged carpenter ants, including black carpenter ants.
These ants only mate while they’re flying, and after they mate, they shed their wings, and the males die soon after. This mating process can result in many shed wings, which often stick to doors and windows. These spent wings indicate that ants are infesting your home.
However, the most prominent sign of a carpenter ant infestation is the wood debris left behind from their tunneling efforts. These shavings occur beneath furniture and near small holes in interior walls. If you notice these tiny piles of sawdust-like wood shavings in your house, then there’s no denying it – carpenter ants have taken over your home.
In this case, you should contact a professional exterminator. They receive special training and know what kills carpenter ants.
Can You Hear Carpenter Ants in Your Walls?
Although uncommon, large infestations of carpenter ants may produce audible noises within the walls of your home. Carpenter ants make a faint rustling sound when they communicate with each other. It’s usually during the night when all is quiet, that this rustling sound is discernible. You can encourage the ants to make this sound by tapping the walls. This can help you determine if you need to consider how to get rid of carpenter ants.
What Attracts Carpenter Ants
Pests don’t just invade your home because they have nothing better to do; they invade because there is something in your home that attracts them. In nearly every case of infestation, that “something” is food, water, or shelter, and it’s no different with carpenter ants. These ants have no problem coming into your home if they detect a food source or if they need to search for a new place to shelter.
Carpenter ants will go to great lengths to feast on sugary substances, and there’s no better place to satisfy their sweet tooth than in your kitchen or trash receptacle. They’re also attracted to juices that collect beneath barbeque grills, such as those left by sauces and marinades. And if you’re a green thumb, you’d better keep an eye on your garden because carpenter ants love nectar and fruit.
Damp and Dark Places
As with cockroaches, carpenter ants prefer damp, dark places. Therefore, it’s no surprise that they live behind dishwashers, beneath the leaky pipes of a sink, and near air conditioning units. Additionally, if they seek a new place to nest, they will be drawn to moisture-ridden wood found inside your home.
Termites vs. Carpenter Ants: What’s the Difference
Carpenter ants are often likened to termites because the two insects look and act similarly. However, upon closer examination, the differences between them are apparent. For instance, it’s a commonly held belief that both insects are wood eaters, but the fact is only termites consume wood.
On the other hand, carpenter ants tear-off minute pieces of wood as they tunnel farther into objects like tree branches and tree stumps and then spit it back out. Additionally, carpenter ants build nests in decaying wood, hollow wood, and hollow doors, whereas termites live in mounds made of soil.
From afar, both insects look alike, but termites, unlike carpenter ants, have two body segments and straight antennae, whereas ants have three body segments and bent antennae.
Can You Get Rid of Carpenter Ants on Your Own?
Dust and Liquid-Based Insecticides
Insecticides are dust or liquid-based chemicals used to kill bugs. Eliminating carpenter ants, in particular, involves the application of dust-based insecticides, such as boric acid. These insecticides are helpful because they penetrate existing cracks in the interior walls of your home and other wall voids.
They are also effective when used as a perimeter treatment, especially boric acid. However, using this method of extermination can expose you to harmful chemical dust particles and damage electrical wiring and junction boxes. If you believe that insecticides are your only option for eradicating ants, then you should seek the advice of a pest control expert first.
Natural Treatment Solutions
Reportedly, using a spray bottle with diluted baking soda or essential oils, like tea tree oil, can prevent carpenter ants. However, it’s important to note that these natural treatments don’t kill carpenter ants. But instead, they are meant for carpenter ant control. So if you find a carpenter ant nest indoors, it must be eliminated before applying these natural treatments.
Desiccants are hygroscopic substances that kill bugs by damaging their inner layers and dehydrating their cells. Diatomaceous earth is the most widely implemented desiccant, and it’s conveniently available at hardware stores and supermarkets. Diatomaceous earth is not harmful to humans or animals, but the dust particles from it may cause lung problems. Desiccants function similarly to insecticides, and they are effective in perimeter treatments.
Ant Baits and Traps
Ant baits are another DIY option for preventing carpenter ants, but they are ineffective for controlling an entire carpenter ant nest. Therefore, they would not be recommended by a pest control professional. These baits are most effective when positioned directly in ants’ scent trails. Unfortunately, ants are picky eaters, and even when they encounter bait on a scent trail, they will often avoid it. This can make traps a poor choice when trying to get rid of carpenter ants.
When to Call in the Pros
Carpenter ant infestations can cause enormous problems for homeowners. These wily pests can chew through the wooden components of a house, compromising its structural integrity. Not only this, but carpenter ants have an excruciating bite. Unfortunately, its nearly impossible to get rid of carpenter ants using DIY methods once they’ve taken hold. If you have a carpenter ant problem, get rid of them today by contacting professional exterminators like our team at Nationwide Pest.