The carpenter ants found in New Jersey are destructive pests that create galleries and chambers in wood in order to create their nests and establish their colonies inside. These tunnels and spacious chambers are smooth, almost as though they have been sanded down. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why these ants are called carpenter ants. When these ants invade a home, they can cause a lot of damage over time. If you're aware of this, you may not take kindly to knowing that your neighbors have carpenter ants. But how worried should you be?
The first question that must be answered is, "How destructive are carpenter ants?" That isn't an easy question to answer. It really depends on the home. Typically, older homes have more trouble with carpenter ants as carpenter ants will target moist, rotting wood before sound wood. Some common targets are:
The sills of a home, just above the foundation wall, where rainwater has led to wood rot.
The door and window frames of a home, especially in foundation walls; these frames tend to be in locations with high moisture and humidity levels.
Decks, porches, patios, fences, sheds, stairs, and other external structures, especially structures that have untreated or unpainted wood or wood that is old.
Wooden areas of a home that are located near landscaping that gets watered frequently.
If your home has wood that is soft, water-damaged, or has wood rot, it is wise to be concerned about carpenter ant issues on neighboring properties. These ants are always growing their populations, maxing out their nests, and sending out female and male reproductives to establish new nests. If your neighbors don't deal with the carpenter ants on their properties, it is only a matter of time before those ants become your problem too!
In the United States, carpenter ants cost property owners hundreds of millions in repair costs every year. They are definitely not a pest problem that should be ignored!
The Food Connection
When considering whether or not you should be worried about your neighbor's carpenter ants, another factor you should take note of is the availability of food on your property. As you are probably aware, carpenter ants don't eat wood; instead, they feed on wide range of foods containing carbohydrates and protein such as aphids and scale insects as well as the honeydew they produce. If you have plants in your yard, you're going to have these plant-eating insects too. And the more plants you have, the more insects you'll have. Don't think for a second that your neighbor's carpenter ants won't take notice of the plentiful food sources in your yard. When scouts come to explore your property, they will let other worker ants know that your yard is filled with food by laying down a trail of odorous chemicals called pheromones to attract the others to your property.
You may have heard pheromones referred to as a chemical scent that animals use to attract mates, but these pheromones serve other roles within insect colonies. Queen ants use pheromones to tell worker ants to develop into soldiers. Soldiers use pheromones to warn other ants of danger. And workers use pheromones to alert other worker ants that they’ve found a food source. Pheromones are how ants communicate with each other. The last thing you need is worker ants returning with a report that your yard provides everything they need to thrive. But that is exactly what will happen if carpenter ant scouts find food sources in your yard.
The Moisture Connection
Since carpenter ants create galleries in wood that has been softened or damaged by water, a yard that is shaded and damp will be more interesting to carpenter ants than a yard that is dry and sunny. Therefore, the more moisture you have in your yard, the more you should be concerned about your neighbor's carpenter ants.
Moisture conditions can arise in many ways. Piles of leaves, sticks, toys, or other items left out on the lawn can allow moisture to collect underneath them. Broken or obstructed gutters can allow for standing water and soil saturation near foundation walls. A thick tree canopy can create excessive shade and make it difficult for the sun to dry the ground. And if your yard has lots of moisture, it will be attractive to your neighbor's carpenter ants.
Even if a yard has no moisture and shade, it can still be interesting to carpenter ants. These ants are always searching for harborage. In nature, they'll establish their colonies in dying trees, decomposing trees that have fallen to the ground, or tree stumps. If you have dying trees or old logs in your yard, you can expect carpenter ants to take notice. They'll also be drawn in by stumps, wood piles, construction materials, and other wood lying around or stacked in your yard. Once established in these places in your yard, your home is the next logical place for these to explore and establish their new nests.
If your yard has no stumps, logs, trees, plants, insects, shade, moisture-damaged wood, or excess moisture, you can rest easy. The carpenter ants in your neighbor's yard probably aren’t going to bother you. Sadly, no such home exists. Most of us have at least some of these conditions on our properties and are still at risk of being invaded by carpenter ants. And while it is impractical to get rid of every single condition listed above, we can reduce some of them:
If you have stumps in your yard, consider removing them so that carpenter ants don't use them as a staging area before invading your home.
If you have logs or fallen trees in your yard, it is a good idea to remove them as well.
If you have a tree in your yard that is dying, a carpenter ant infestation isn't the worst problem that can arise from this. A heavy wind could knock that tree over and damage your home so removing it will come with the added benefit of reducing carpenter ants.
If you have lots of plants on your property, we don't expect you to uproot them all. Plants add life to your landscaping. But you can help reduce the insects that damage your plants and attract carpenter ants to your yard by investing in pest control service from a professional. And, by partnering with a pest control provider, you'll be protecting your health and the health of your family and pets as you work to protect your equity and belongings from damage.
If you have too much shade in one area of your yard, it is a good idea to trim back tree branches to let the sunlight reach the shaded area; the sun does a great job of keeping things dry.
If you have excess moisture in your yard from a broken or obstructed gutter system, a leaky spigot, a leaking hose, compacted ground, orother issue, it is important to address these problems right away. Not only will this help in resisting carpenter ants, it will
protect your home's equity from wood rot, mold, and other moisture-related problems.
When you actively work to reduce carpenter ant attractants in your yard, you'll have an impact on subterranean termites as well. Subterranean termites are drawn to the same conditions as carpenter ants. And, as you are probably aware, termites are a multi-billion dollar problem for U.S. property owners and a pest you definitely want to avoid.
When you actively work to reduce carpenter ant attractants, it will also help deter other insects pests that may come into your yard and invade your homes such as silverfish, earwigs, centipedes, cockroaches, and more.
Integrated Pest Management
As we've already hinted at above, the best way to stop insects is to apply treatments for the insect they feed on. And at Arrow Pest Control, we consider this when choosing the services we provide. We understand that there is no need to apply five treatment products when one will suffice. And sometimes, no treatment product is needed at all! It is important that a pest control provider understands this, especially when it comes to controlling destructive pests such as carpenter ants and subterranean termites.
At Arrow Pest Control, our pest management professionals use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles and methodology to manage pests problems. This is an effective and eco-friendly way to prevent pest infestations and the problems they bring. Integrated Pest Management uses natural solutions first and, if natural solutions can’t effectively solve the problem, turns to only EPA-approved insecticides. By using IPM strategies, our service professionals can provide our customers with comprehensive plans to break the cycle of infestation, rather than just exterminate the insects in their yard or home with harmful chemicals. At Arrow, our technicians understand the habits and habitats of common New Jersey pests and use that knowledge when choosing treatment methods and products to achieve the best results.
Does your neighbor have carpenter ants? Don't wait till their problem becomes yours! Take steps now to protect your property from carpenter ant infestation in the future. If you need assistance protecting your New Jersey home from carpenter ants, reach out to us at Arrow Pest Control today!
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