Carpenter ants are common pests in our New Jersey service area. Far too common. When these destructive insects get into a home and chew tunnels and galleries, there are often steps that could have taken to prevent them. Here are some common mistakes homeowners make. See if any of these sound familiar.
1. Letting stumps remain.
Most homeowners are unaware that carpenter ants love stumps. They forage all around stumps and some species will nest inside them. The more the stump has rotted, the more interesting it will be to carpenter ants.
2. Letting branches touch the house.
While carpenter ants can crawl up the side of a home, they are more likely to attack higher points on a home by using tree branches as a bridge. Homeowners who don't trim tree branches that touch rooflines can expect carpenter ants and other pests to take advantage of this vulnerability.
3. Allowing pools of standing water.
Water provides many of the things a carpenter ant need to survive and thrive. If you have pools of water near your home, these ants will take an interest. These pools can be formed in many ways. Here are a few of them:
- An obstructed or broken gutter system that allows water to flow down the side of the home or let water splash out rather than channeling it down and away from the foundation perimeter of the home.
- Exterior spigots or hoses that leak.
- Compacted leaf litter that captures rainwater.
- Compacted ground that holds rainwater, sprinkler water, water sprayed on plants from a hose, etc.
- Leaking air conditioning units.
- Plumbing leaks.
It is important to address moisture problems, not only to resist carpenter ants, but also for the well being of your home. Moisture attracts a wide range of pests and can also rot the wood of your home.
4. Stacking wood near the home.
Carpenter ants are attracted to firewood. If you stack wood against your home, you can expect trouble from these wood-damaging insects. But firewood isn't the only wood that can attract carpenter ants! They can be drawn in by wood borders around a flower bed, wood structures used to hold plants and flowers, stacked construction materials, exterior steps, deteriorating wooden fencing, decks, and other wooden structures. They prefer soft, rotting wood but they can also attack the untreated wood of a structure.
5. Leaving entry points.
Carpenter ants aren't likely to chew their way into a sound home. If they can't find a soft spot, they'll take the next best thing: a hole, gap, or crack. Over time, there are many ways entry points can begin to appear. The foundation can chip or crack, screens can get ripped or damaged, weather stripping and door sweeps can wear out, basement window and door frames can be damaged by rodents, and more. Carpenter ants will exploit existing entry points and help to make small holes larger.
6. Having lots of plants.
Carpenter ants don't eat wood. They eat meats and sweets. A yard, which has lots of plants, will be the perfect environment for carpenter ants. They will enjoy the protein provided by aphids, scale insects, and dead insects while enjoying the honeydew left by insects that feed on plant sap. For the most part, carpenter ants are beneficial because they help control plant-damaging pests. But, when plants are near a home, carpenter ants can do damage to the home, which is not beneficial at all. If you have lots of landscaping around your home, it is vital to have a professional pest control company help you manage pests around your foundation.
7. Providing a food source.
If a home has an outdoor kitchen or cooking area, food can be left out to attract carpenter ants. Keep food cleaned up and stored away.
If there are dogs or cats in a home, sometimes pet food is left outside as an attractant. Refrain from doing this, if possible, or consider putting food out only during meal times.
8. Letting shade take over.
When shaded areas around a home begin to create moist areas, or moss develops, it can make a home more inviting to carpenter ants. Trimming trees and bushes can allow the sunlight through to dry the soil near the home.
9. Letting organic debris sit.
When leaves and sticks are allowed to lay on the ground, it can trap moisture in the soil beneath, which will draw carpenter ants in. It is best to keep leaves and sticks raked up. Be sure to not leave piles in the yard or, worse, underneath a deck or a porch. Piles of decaying organic matter are a prime foraging location for these insects. And, if they're foraging under your deck or porch, it is likely that they will find vulnerabilities to exploit.
10. Not addressing old trees in the yard.
A common harborage choice for carpenter ants in the wild is old trees with holes, knots, or hollow cavities. If you have an old tree in your yard, it could become a home for carpenter ants. If the tree is 20 feet from the home, it may be fine. But old trees near your foundation perimeter should be treated routinely for pest issues to prevent unwanted attention from a wide range of insects, bugs, and rodents.
11. Ignoring the subtle signs.
A carpenter ant isn't much to look at. Even though these ants are the largest ants you'll find in your home, they're still pretty small. So it can be easy to just crush them with a piece of paper towel or toilet paper and throw them away without giving it another thought. But you shouldn't. You need to address the real problem. The damage caused by carpenter ants can build up over time and become extremely costly. Here are some signs you may be tempted to ignore:
- An individual ant crawling around inside your home. These are worker ants looking for potential food resources. You might see one or two a week even though your walls are filled with carpenter ants.
- A dead ant in a spider web. If you're in the basement and you notice a large black or black and dark red ant trapped in a web, take notice. That spider did you a favor. This may be the only sign you get of a major infestation.
- Smooth grooves or channels carved out of wood beams. While carpenter ants do most of their damage inside wood, they sometimes expose their tunnels to the outside world.
- Fine sawdust pouring out of a crack or piling up on a floor. Carpenter ants don't eat wood. They chew it into frass and kick it out tiny holes. You may find frass in a location that has no visible carpenter ant damage.
Winged ants appearing on interior window panes. When a carpenter ant nest releases male and female, winged reproductives, they sometimes gather on interior window panes as they attempt to get to the light outside. It is easy enough to vacuum them up and forget about them. But you should know that there is no possible way those winged ants came from a colony on someone else's property.
When you see signs of carpenter ants, it is possible that a carpenter ant infestation hasn't taken root yet, and that you could avoid one. It is also possible that you have a satellite colony in your home and by having a pest control expert address it, the parent colony could be found before more carpenter ants can invade the walls of your home.
12. Not getting the home protected before problems start.
It costs less to prevent carpenter ant infestations than it does to arrest a carpenter ant infestation. Along with the additional cost of pest extermination, there is the cost of repairing the damage done by these wood-destroying insects, which can be difficult. There is sometimes no way to know how extensive the damage is, and it can lead to structural issues as a home ages. Routine treatments to the perimeter of your home can keep carpenter ants and other unwanted pests out of your home.
If you own property in New Jersey, take a look at Home Protection Plus from Arrow Pest Control. It provides essential surveillance and control for carpenter ants. With routine inspections from an experienced and trained professional, you'll get the feedback you need to make sure carpenter ants don't take advantage of vulnerabilities. You'll also get the treatments needed to resist and control those destructive pests before they have a chance to eat away at your equity. Best of all, Home Protection Plus controls more than just carpenter ants. You'll get protection from over 30 other common pests that can damage your home, destroying your belongings, infest your foods, spread diseases to the people living in your home, and leave bites on your skin. In certain communities, we offer monitoring for subterranean termites, which can be far more dangerous to the equity of your home. Don't wait to get your protection in place. Learn more about Home Protection here!
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