In the United States, carpenter ants are a serious problem, in particular, carpenter ants in the Camponotus species. In our New Jersey service area, the carpenter ants to watch out for are black carpenter ants, which are of the species Camponotus pennsylvanicus. These insects are responsible for millions of dollars of property damage annually. If you notice large black ants crawling around near your property, or worse, inside your property, it is time to definitely give a trusted pest control company a call. But, before those ants get into your home, there are a few things you can do to prevent carpenter ant damage from happening. Let's take a look at some tips and methodology you can apply in all four seasons of the year to resist these destructive pests.
This is the most important season for carpenter ant prevention. Carpenter ants are more active when it is cool and moist. These two conditions are common during fall days, especially toward the beginning of fall. Here are fewer prevention tips to consider, starting with the most obvious.
Leaves on the Ground
There are many ways leaves can attract carpenter ants. They offer a natural covering that help the ground to stay moist, and moist ground is attractive to carpenter ants. It is vital that you take the time to rake leaves up off the ground, and particularly, away from your foundation walls. The last thing you need is for carpenter ants to find nice, moist soil and the shade offered by leaf cover, near your home.
Leaves in your Gutters
When leaves drift down into your gutters they can cause obstructions. This can allow rainwater to spill over and run down the side of your home, moistening the ground near your foundation wall, creating stagnant water pools, and moistening the wood of your exterior. Over time, water can do a lot of damage to a home, that is one of the big reason homes have gutters on them in the first place. All of that rainwater needs to be channeled down and away from your walls. If it is allowed to soak the wood of your home, not only will it cause rot, it will attract carpenter ants. These ants prefer soft, rotting wood.
Do you stack wood in fall to use during the winter? If you do, be sure to stack it away from your home and elevate it if possible. Carpenter ants love wood piles. Don't let your stacked wood be a reasons for carpenter ants to be close to your home.
While it is possible for carpenter ants to chew their way into your home, it is more likely that they will exploit an entry point to get in. Once inside, they will gravitate to moist, cool areas within your walls, floors, and ceilings, and begin creating galleries for this nests within your wood. Some common entry points that carpenter ants exploit are:
- Gaps around window frames. When windows are installed, there is usually a gap around them. Windows don't usually fit snuggly, so window installers must put a seal around those windows, such as a high quality silicone caulk. This seal can develop gaps as a home ages, and these small gaps can give carpenter ants, and other pests, easy entrance into your wall voids. This can be easily fixed by apply a new layer of silicone caulk to areas that are gapping.
- Small gaps in door and window frames. If a frame settles and pulls apart at a corner, it can be enough to give these ants entry. These gaps can be fixed with a little carpentry magic. If you don't have the skill and can afford to pay to have someone do that right now, you can fill these gaps with silicone caulk for a temporary fix.
- Gaps around plumbing, wire conduit, air conditioning units, and other objects that pass through your exterior walls.
- Damaged weather stripping. If you can turn the lights off inside your home on a sunny day and see light coming through a hole around a door, there is a good chance you have weather stripping that needs to be replaced. Carpenter ants will take quick advantage of gaps in weather stripping.
You wouldn't think that there is much you can do about carpenter ant prevention in the winter but there is if we get a late snow. When plants go dormant in late spring or early winter, it is the perfect time to trim them. Pruning too early may result in new growth that doesn't harden off properly before winter. And, when you cut back your bushes in winter, you'll also be doing something important to resist carpenter ants in the spring.
Trimming bushes helps to resist carpenter ants in a few important ways. It allows better airflow near your foundation walls and helps to keep the soil dry. It lets the sunlight in, which also helps with drying the soil. And it shortens branches so they don't quite touch your exterior walls. This prevents carpenter ants from using those branches as bridges to gain easy access to higher locations on the outside of your home.
This is a wet time of year. When all of the snow of winter melts, it can create conditions that are attractive to carpenter ants. Be diligent about drying your foundation perimeter out as quickly as possible. Loosen soil, to allow the moisture to sink into the ground. Trim tree branches to let more sunlight in to dry the ground. If you've already trimmed your bushes and other landscaping, you should be on your way to having a dry perimeter.
It is also important to keep the interior of your home dry. If carpenter ants find their way into a moist basement, you could be in trouble. Consider putting dehumidifiers in your basement to dry things out down there and make that environment less inviting to carpenter ants and other moisture pests.
The tips that prevent carpenter ant infestation in the summer can be applied during any month that is warm. We're putting them here because they are more "general" tips for controlling carpenter ant populations.
- Do you have stumps? It is a good idea to have stumps removed. They can be a staging area for a home infestation. If a colony matures inside a stump, it will begin to send out winged female and male reproductives in search of a new location to build a nest. This will increase your chances of having an infestation in your home.
- Keep trash in sealed receptacles. While carpenter ants can find many food sources in most yards, trash is an easy meal. Be sure to keep your trash in plastic bags, and store those plastic bags in sealed receptacles. It is also a good idea to keep your receptacles clean. This will prevent smells from luring carpenter ants in close.
- Fix leaky plumbing. If you have any leaking spigots or hoses, they can make the ground around your home damp and inviting to carpenter ants.
- Water damaged wood is highly attractive to carpenter ants. If you have water damaged wood in a fence, shed, porch, deck, or some other structure, consider replacing it.
- Wood borders. If you have wood borders around your gardens, flower bed, and landscaping, you may want to consider replacing them with a stone border. These areas get watered quite a bit and it can make wood borders attractive. Stone is more resistant to carpenter ants.
All Year Long
For the best protection from carpenter ants, it is best to have routine treatments from a licensed professional. Routine perimeter treatment prevent carpenter ants from exploiting any tiny holes you've failed to seal. It reduces insects like aphids and scales, which carpenter ants use as a food source. And it makes some areas that would otherwise be ideal for carpenter ants, unusable.
Year-round pest control has another benefit. While you're protecting your home from carpenter ants, you'll have coverage for over 30 other pets that plague us here in New Jersey, including termites. Every home should have routine pest control. Pests can sting, bite, and transmit diseases. Some of the diseases they transmit can be fatal or lead to lifelong health problems. Pests are serious business. They can also damage our belongings and eat away at the equity in our homes. Keeping destructive carpenter ants out is just one of many reasons to have ongoing, always active, pest control.
If you live in our New Jersey service area, let the team at Arrow Pest Control help you get the coverage you need to keep pests from harming your health and your property. Take a look at our Home Protection PLUS and Arrow Premier pest control programs and find out which one is right for you. Then, schedule a free, no obligation, pest inspection for your home. We'll help you figure out what pest pressures you have and guide you in making a plan to stop those pests in their tracks.
Request Your Free Inspection
Schedule Your No Obligation Inspection Today
Recent Blog Posts
Read the latest articles & news