What Happens To Carpenter Ants In The Winter

Cold weather and a noticeable decline in ant activity around your New Jersey home may lead you to the conclusion that carpenter ants have hit the pause button and won’t bother you, or more specifically your home, again until the spring. While it’s true that carpenter ant behavior does change with the winter season, will the threat of these destructive pests go away completely? Let’s find out.

up close of carpenter ant living inside a new jersey home during the winter

Can carpenter ants survive winter in New Jersey?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is yes. With the right conditions, carpenter ants not only survive winter, they may continue to tunnel and create galleries in wall voids, floor joists, and other parts of a structure. Carpenter ants enter a state of diapause when the weather grows colder.  A hibernation of sorts for cold-blooded insects, this prevents carpenter ant colonies from dying out completely.

Instead, they’ll start functioning at a slower rate and they’ll also seal off their colony, which is typically located below the frost line but could be inside old, rotting trees. Unlike the hibernation of bears and other mammals that are not influenced by changes in temperatures though, carpenter ants may “wake up” on warmer winter days and resume activity. This process of going in and out of diapause can occur multiple times during the winter months.

How do carpenter ants in New Jersey thrive then if they’re “sleeping” most of the winter?

A satellite nest established inside a warm home (temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit) will allow a carpenter ant colony to remain active while the snow flies and the freezing temperatures persist.  In addition to heat, close proximity to food and water also enables these destructive pests to flourish when they should be inactive.

Can carpenter ant damage occur over the winter?

In a word, yes! Though not as extensive or as costly to repair as damage caused by termites, carpenter ant damage is not something homeowners should ignore. In addition to the spots mentioned above, carpenter ants establish nests in a variety of places inside a home, including but not limited to:

  •   Doors
  •   Window frames
  •   Ceiling voids
  •   Wood that maintains contact with soil
  •   Rotting or moisture damaged wood caused by a leaking pipe under the kitchen sink or other plumbing issue

So how do carpenter ants damage wood exactly? These wood-destroying ants create smooth, clean tunnels in wood by excavating along the wood’s grain. As they move forward, they’ll push their frass (also referred to as dust or sawdust) out through entry points. These efforts will eventually weaken the wood which can be evidenced by sagging and bowing doors, floors, and ceilings.

How to prevent carpenter ants this winter

Replacing moisture damaged wood and fixing leaking appliances are a couple of ways to make your home less attractive to industrious carpenter ants. We also recommend checking out a blog we composed earlier this fall on this very topic.

Carpenter Ant Prevention Tips For Fall & Winter

If carpenter ants are already in my home, what can I do?

If you already suspect a carpenter ant infestation in your home or you simply want to be proactive in the fight against these damaging pests, contact Arrow Pest Control. Providing year-round home pest control services in Millstone, Ewing, and East Orange as well as communities throughout our multi-county service area, our locally owned and operated pest control company has the knowledge, tools, and experience to help you get rid of carpenter ants and other house-infesting pests common to New Jersey.

Home Protection Program Plus

This program includes everything from the Home Protection Program - PLUS carpenter ant control and our termite monitoring advantage. Arrow will install a passive subterranean termite monitoring system at critical or conducive areas along the exterior perimeter foundation of your home. This system will include up to 4 in-ground subterranean termite monitoring stations. These stations will be serviced and inspected as part of your routine service.

Should the monitors indicate termite activity or termites occur within the home, Arrow will provide you with a termite treatment proposal at a 50% discounted rate, and you will be upgraded to Arrow Premier at the current prevailing rate.

  • Is a year-round program that provides full interior and exterior service.

  • Service includes a one-time interior service per year and two exterior treatments.
  • Covers your entire property* including the attic, mailbox, playset, shed, and fence.
  • Termite monitoring advantage

Pests targeted with Arrow’s Home Protection Program Plus includes all the pests included in the Home Protection Program PLUS carpenter ants, pharaoh ants, and acrobat ants.

*If you have a pool house that requires service, pricing would increase based upon the size of the structure.
*Termite monitoring advantage is not applicable in over-55 communities
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Jared L.


‟We have a quarterly service plan with Arrow. They are not only focused on addressing issues they put preventative measures in place to prevent issues from happening, like looking for and sealing the places where bugs can get into the home. The team are professional, friendly, thorough and provide details about every step of their process. We have had several different technicians over the last 2 years and each follows the same process and guidelines. Definitely recommend for treatment and prevention.”
Jared L.
Manalapan, NJ
Arrow Pest Control received an average rating of 5.0 out of 5 stars from 1380 reviews. 5.0 Read Google Reviews

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