Why are carpenter ants important to know about?
Carpenter ants are the only wood destroying ant in the great US of A.
Their name is a misnomer because when you hear carpenter ant you kinda expect them to build you a bird house, but in fact they hollow out damp dead wood to build their nests in. This means dead logs and dying trees, but also beams in our homes.
They’re important decomposers in the environment, and help break down wood in the forest.
How do I identify them?
Carpenter ants are easy to identify since they’re the largest ant you’ll probably ever see.
The queen ants are massive at around an inch, and the most common carpenter ants are all uniformly black.
They’re primarily nocturnal, so they’re most active at night. If you go outside with a flashlight at night (if you’re a big geek like a I am) you can see them trailing and foraging.
What’s the difference between carpenter ants and termites?
There are many differences, but the most practical difference is that termites eat wood, while carpenter ants hollow wood out (creating “galleries”) and remove the small wood pieces from the nest. This is why if you’re seeing sawdust appear in an area of your house (or at the base of your favorite tree) it’s an indication of carpenter ants and not termites.
The other important difference to be aware of (especially in the spring) is the difference between termite swarmers and carpenter ant swarmers.
Carpenter ant swarmers have a pinched waist and one set of wings is noticeably larger than the other.
Termite swarmers do not have a pinched waist and have two pairs of equal wings which are roughly twice the length of their bodies.
How do I get rid of carpenter ants myself?
This is a tricky one.
If carpenter ants are nesting in your house, it’s an indication that there is a moisture issue somewhere which the carpenter ants found and are likely nesting in.
Very often it’s improperly flashed decks, perhaps a gutter that overflowed into a soffit, a leaky window, etc.
This can be difficult at time’s to pinpoint, but if you’re looking for reasons to replace rotted wood in your house this could be the time.
Replacing damaged wood can help solve carpenter ant issues and make these areas less attractive to carpenter ants in the future.
And of course, we can solve even the toughest carpenter ant issues.
Jeremiah Smith, Owner