Common Signs Of A Carpenter Ant Infestation

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There are few things as frustrating as finding out that insects have destroyed your home. A home investment is the biggest investment many families will make. The equity that is in your home may be a part of your retirement plan. While carpenter ants prefer to attack rotting wood, they can move from softwood to hardwood when they infest. Over time, this can cause serious damage by weakening wall supports. Each year, these destructive insects cause property owners here in the U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars in repair costs. That is why it is so important to recognize the warning signs of a carpenter ant infestation.

what the inside of a wall looks like when you have a carpenter ant infestation

First Sign Of Carpenter Ants

This may seem silly, but actually seeing carpenter ants is one of the first signs you'll have that your home is in danger. The problem is most people don't recognize carpenter ants when they seem them or, worse, they shrug them off as no big deal.

Carpenter Ant Identification

Workers carpenter ants are about 13 mm in length and may be reddish, black, or a mix of both. If you're able to magnify one of these ants, you'll see one node between its abdomen and thorax. That is the waist of the ant. If you look closely, you'll also see that their antennae look like inverted handlebars, as though you could stand in front of the ant and grab a hold of them like you would the handlebars of a motorcycle.

Location, Location, Location

It matters where you see a worker ant. If you're outside in your garden, and you are several feet from your home, it isn't a big deal to see a few carpenter ant workers around. In fact, those workers can actually be beneficial in your garden. They feed on plant-damaging pests such as aphids and scale insects. But, if you see a worker crawling around near your foundation or, worse, crawling around on a counter or floor inside your home, it is time to have a professional take a look. It might be nothing. But, if it is "something" you should definitely get on top of the problem as soon as you can. The appearance of carpenter ants should never be shrugged off.

Winged Ants

Another way you may see carpenter ants is when a nest releases winged alates. These winged ants are male and female reproductives that are sent out to create new nests. An alate may be as large as 20 mm in length. That is quite a bit larger than a worker, and a lot more noticeable. But, once again, many people don't know when they're looking at a winged carpenter ant.

Winged carpenter ant identification

carpenter ant on a new jersey homes' roof

This biggest thing to keep in mind when you're trying to identify a winged carpenter ant is that it is an ant. It has two sets of wings that have a cleft at the tips when stacked on their backs. This helps to distinguish carpenter ants from termites, which have wing tips that look rounded when stacked. Termites are also considerably smaller than carpenter ants.

Sometimes winged carpenter ants are mistaken for hornets or wasps. We can understand why you may not want to get close to figure out which one you have. If you are brave enough to get close, the handlebar antennae should give you confirmation that you have winged carpenter ants. Black colored wasps have antennae that have a slight curve, not an elbow bend. Their antenna also go out forward from the head and bend toward the tips. The antennae of winged carpenter ants go out to the sides, bend like an elbow and go forward.

If you see winged ants crawling around on the outside of your home, it is possible that those ants came from inside your home. Ant swarms don't last long, and winged ants don't travel far from the nest that gave birth to them. If you see them on the inside of your home, they definitely came from somewhere inside your home. Often, these ants are seen on window panes. This is because they are trying to get to the light outside.

Sign 1: Wings

During the mating process, winged ants shed their wings. Sometimes, these shed wings are the only sign a property owner gets that carpenter ants have invaded because swarms happen so quickly. If you notice several wings littered on a window sill, floor, or some other surface, reach out to a professional for an inspection. You may also see wings stuck in spiderwebs. Spiderwebs are nature's sticky traps. They're helpful for monitoring pest pressures around and inside your home.

Sign 2: Sawdust

When carpenter ants excavate their tunnels and galleries, they don't consume the wood the way termites do. They must push the sawdust out. This sawdust is called frass. You can find frass in many places both inside and outside of a home. Usually, it will be in secluded locations.

Frass is often overlooked because it appears in places that have dirt, sawdust, or some other organic matter. If carpenter ants infest a woodpile, for instance, the frass will be easily overlooked. If carpenter ants infest a wall in a shed that is used to store carpentry items, such as saw horses or a table saw, frass does not look out of place.

Sign 3: Carpenter Ant Damage

If you have carpenter ants infesting your property, you may see areas where wood has been damaged. Hopefully, you'll see this on an external structure, like a fence, deck, shed, or outbuilding.

Damage done by carpenter ants can look like termite damage but there is a way to tell the difference. Termite galleries are gritty. Carpenter ant galleries are smooth. You're also less likely to see termite damage. Termite workers do not like the light and they are easily dried out by the sun.

Carpenter ant damage doesn't always look like tunnels and galleries. It can look like a hole that is frayed around the edges. It can look like dashes and dots running along a block of wood. It can look like wood rot (especially since these ants prefer to attack rotting wood). It can look splintered. It may just look like a wall is disintegrating.

You're likely to find carpenter ant damage in moist areas, like on fence posts that go down into the moist ground, at the base of buildings where the wood touches the ground, on wood that is in shaded locations behind plants and other landscaping, on wood borders that surround flower beds, on the wood of a building that has a stack of firewood next to it, on basement timbers, and in other places that are dark, moist, and secluded.

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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