Ants are the number one nuisance pest in the U.S., and none are more damaging and costly than the carpenter ant. These summer visitors are known for nesting inside homes and compromising structural stability. They can be as destructive as termites.
Carpenter ants damage wood by creating tunnels to build nests. They primarily attack wood that is or has been wet and damaged by mold, but will also nest inside dry, undamaged wood. There are nine types of carpenter ants throughout the U.S., usually measuring ¼ to ½ inch in length and are red, black or red and black in color.
The extent of damage caused by carpenter ants depends on the number of nests inside the structure and how long they’ve been active. Once the presence of carpenter ants is confirmed, it’s important to find and eliminate nests immediately.
Carpenter ant nests are usually found in wood that has been damaged as a result of leaks, such as window and door-frames, crawlspaces under roofs, chimneys, sinks and bathtubs. Typically, there are no external signs of damage, but homeowners may notice wood fragments and sawdust that fall through cracks the ants have created.
The National Pest Management Association advises homeowners to follow these steps to help prevent infestations:
- Eliminate sources of moisture, as carpenter ants require water to survive.
- Seal cracks and crevices around the house.
- Trim tree branches and plants back from the house.
- Avoid having mulch up against the foundation, but rather nine inches back from the house with a stone barrier in between.
- Keep firewood stacked away from structures.