Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants get their name from their habit of hollowing out galleries in pieces of wood for nesting purposes. This nesting habit can easily result in structural damage. These ants are black with combinations of red and black or completely red or brown. They can be found throughout the United States, including South Carolina. Although they do not sting, their bites can be quite painful, especially when they inject formic acid into the wound.

External infestations can be identified by the appearance of small openings or windows on the surface of wood. Through these openings, the workers expel debris which consists of sawdust-like shavings and/or fragments of insulation and insect body parts. Inside, the galleries follow the softer spring wood with numerous connections through the harder/dark summer wood. Carpenter ants prefer to attack wood softened by fungus and are often associated with moisture problems.

Carpenter ant colonies are moderate in size, containing over 3,000 workers at full maturity. Most carpenter ant species establish their first nest in decayed wood and later expand or enlarge this into sound wood. Inside, nests are located in wood, in insulation, and/or in wall voids. Workers become a nuisance when out searching for food but are destructive to timbers utilized for nesting activities. Outside, nests are typically located in rotting fence posts, stumps, old firewood, dead portions of standing trees, and under stones or fallen logs.

Carpenter Ant Feeding Habits

Carpenter ants feed primarily on insect honeydew, plant and fruit juices, insects, and other arthropods. Inside, they will feed on sweets, eggs, meats, cakes, and grease. The workers will forage up to 300 feet from their nest and will enter buildings around door and window frames, eaves, plumbing and utilities lines, and shrub and tree branches in contact with the building.

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Carpenter Ants

carpenter ant control

What do carpenter ants look like?

Carpenter ants are usually black or red but can be a combination of both. Carpenter ants have 3 body segments with a large head and abdomen. Carpenter ants vary in size from 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch long. Carpenter ants antennae are bent with 12 segments. Winged carpenter ants are sometimes mistakenly identified as termite swarmers. Winged carpenter ants will have wings of differing lengths while termites have 2 sets of equal length wings. These winged carpenter ants are typically seen in early spring often after rain when the sun comes back out. 

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Are carpenter ants dangerous?

Carpenter ants are not poisonous and they don’t typically bite people. On the off chance, you do startle one into biting you it won’t hurt much more than a pinch. Carpenter ants will, however, be happy to chew through your home, deck, garage, or any other wooden structure. If left untreated the damage done by carpenter ants excavating a structure to create nesting galleries can be quite extensive.

Carpenter ant habitat.

Carpenter ants can be found in moist, decaying, or rotted out wood. This could be outside or inside a structure. While they are mostly found in wooded or forest environments, they will happily use your home or any other wooden structure that may have a moisture problem. Areas of particular to watch on your home would be eaves, decks, and under windows. Carpenter ants will sometimes have a central colony surrounded by satellite colonies. 

How do I get rid of carpenter ants?

Ant problems can be quite difficult to eliminate. To eliminate carpenter ants you must find the central colony. This can be quite difficult for most people. If a satellite colony is exterminated but the main colony isn’t the problem will just seem to get better then it will get worse.  Walker Pest Management’s professional pest control technicians have been trained to find and eliminate all carpenter ants as well as other common household pests through our year-round Preferred Care Pest Control program. 

How can I prevent carpenter ant problems at my home or business?

Start off with a routine maintenance pest program from a pest control expert like those at Walker Pest Management then follow these tips should help prevent any pharaoh ant problems in your home. 

  • Remove rotting or decayed wood from around your home. This includes firewood, lumber, and even moist rotting mulch.
  • Repair any moisture damaged wood. 
  • Correct any moisture problems in the crawlspace as well as anywhere water is able to sit standing on exposed wood.
  • Seal all gaps in foundation, crawlspace, around doors, and windows. 

If you suspect a carpenter ant problem contact Walker Pest Management for a free quote.

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