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As soon as the summer starts showing up we get ants in the hundreds pestering our homes. Ants can be very hard to control, but there is a type of ant that can be worse than the others: Carpenter Ants.

Because of the name it may be easy to believe they eat wood as termites do, but they are actually more literal than that: they are named carpenters because they work the wood to their advantage. They make little holes in it to build their nests and passageways between them. As they are among the largest ants in the US (up to 13 millimeters in size) this can cause structural damage to your wooden belongings.

How do I recognize Carpenter Ants?

So how do tell the difference between carpenter ants and regular ants? The first clue is the size, as we recently stated. In body color sadly there isn’t just one type, but commonly they are black or red or a mix of both. There is also another common type in the area of California that is black and yellow.

A significant detail they all share is their heart shaped head. They have elongated jaws. In the same way, they have a single-segmented pedicle or waist and a rounded thorax were other ants usually have a ridged thorax.

Where do I find them?

Although the “carpenter” term is a dead giveaway, they prefer wood that has been strongly exposed to moisture. As a matter of fact, having a source of moisture is necessary for the development of a nest and colony, so that is an important fact to take into account. This usually means that carpenter ants will commonly develop outside, maybe in al old wet tree stomp or in the place where you keep firewood.

However they do manage to arrive to the inside of our homes through holes and cracks in walls or foundation. There have evenbeen cases where they arrive through “bridges” in form of branches and even power lines.

Another possibility is that you first run into swarmers (aka winged ants). This poses a big problem because their presence means there is a mature colony close by that is ready to send their young to build new colonies around.

Finally, you can recognize their presence even if you don’t actually see them if you find little piles of debris beside wood structures, or maybe wood shavings alongside dead ant parts.

Pest control

Since this type of ant is very dependent of their source of moisture, the first thing to do would be to remove any damp piece of wood that can serve as their home. Standing water is also a cause of problem you will want to get rid of.

Just as you eliminate their possible nests, it is important to eliminate the bridges they use to get to your home. Keeping the yard trimmed is the best way to do this, and if you keep firewood close to your house you will want to relocate it somewhere else. Preferably somewhere that will keep it dry. Finally, seal their possible entrances such as cracks and crevices. Remember that ants can fit in very small spaces, so you need to pay attention.

If the problem is ongoing, then the only way to completely eliminate the pest is to find the nest. This will require better knowledge and tools for the search process as well as to ensure no sneaky colony-members remain hidden and re-start the colony after the treatment. In such instances, it is better to trust a professional with the job.


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