Carpenter Ants are a wood-destroying insect that can cause significant structural damage to your home. These ants tunnel through soft, decaying wood such as tree stumps and dead branches to form their nests. They can also nest in rotting logs, piles of firewood, and even in the wood siding of your house. They are very destructive to wooden structures and can weaken support beams, soffits, and wall studs. Carpenter ants typically have a parent colony outdoors with satellite colonies inside a structure for food and shelter.
The best way to prevent Carpenter Ants infestations is to keep wood and other materials away from water and decay. This can be done by removing stumps, logs and other debris within 100 yards of your home, and storing firewood off the ground. Sealing cracks around doors, windows and utility pipes is also important.
If a carpenter ant infestation does occur, the first step is to locate and destroy the nest. This can be difficult because the ants leave scent trails as they travel to and from their nests. The easiest way to find a nest is by observing ant activity at night and on cloudy days. Look for ant trails or a faint rustling sound in walls, ceilings and woodwork. If you find these, follow the ants to the source of the trail. Then apply an aerosol, insecticide dust or anti-carpenter ant foam directly to the suspected infestation site. You can also drill small holes in the areas where ants are nesting and fill them with these products.
Once the ants have been killed, you can seal off the entry points into your home using caulking. It is also recommended that you regularly inspect your property for carpenter ant nesting sites both indoors and out. If you do locate a carpenter ant nest, treat it as soon as possible with an insecticide dust such as boric acid. This is a more concentrated form of the borax used in lace ant baits and will kill the ants that touch it. It is safe to use around children and pets, but it must be applied thoroughly in order to be effective.
Infestations are most common in spring. As the weather warms up, these ants will move into homes and other buildings to seek out food sources. They are more likely to nest in moist, rotting or damaged wood, such as those found in bathroom showers and tubs that don’t drain properly, or porches that get wet from rain or sprinklers. They may also infest new construction or older buildings that have been weakened by water or termites.
These ants are not usually a health risk, but they can cause serious damage to wooden structures if allowed to thrive for several years. Their tunnels and galleries can compromise the integrity of the wood, causing it to rot or warp. This can affect the strength and beauty of your home, as well as making it less energy efficient.