Carpenter ants are important decomposers of forest trees, burrowing within it to nest and feeding on insects, plants and fruit juices. However, they do move from their native woods to the structures of homes looking for water and human or pet food. |
Although they are slow to cause harm, carpenter ants can do serious damage to a home if they are not adequately controlled.
Let's begin this page by clearing up a few common misconceptions about carpenter ants.
First of all, carpenter ants don't "eat" wood. They damage wood by excavating galleries in which to lay their eggs and tend their young. Unlike termites and some wood-destroying beetles, carpenter ants derive no nutritional benefit from the wood itself. (They may, however, raise fungi within the galleries, which they then consume as food.)
Secondly, it's pretty unusual for carpenter ants to attack a piece of sound, dry wood; so news stories about families whose homes were destroyed overnight by carpenter ants are nonsense. Carpenter ants prefer wood that has already been moisture damaged. When assessing the damage caused by carpenter ants to homes and other structures, we have to consider that the wood, in all likelihood, already had a longstanding moisture problem before the carpenter ants arrived.
Finally, carpenter ants don't always damage wood at all. What carpenter ants need is a secluded void with adequate warmth and humidity, and which is well protected from predators. If they come across a place that already meets their needs, then they may not do any excavating at all. In fact, the place they live need not even be made of wood. Carpenter ants often live in non-wooden items such as curtain rods, metal frames of backyard swing sets, metal fence posts, and even garden hoses that have been unused for long periods of time. Where Will I Find Them?
Frame houses without basements and any building near a forest are likely locations for a carpenter ant nest. These nomadic ants love areas of high moisture so inspect bathrooms and kitchens and anywhere water leaks are occurring, for wood dust or shavings.
Outdoors, tap on evergreen trees and hollow stumps within 300 feet of your home. Use a stethoscope or empty glass to listen for rustling sounds. Gently tap joists and rafters with a hammer, listening for rustling or for the hollow sound of excavated wood. Insert a pocketknife blade into wood to confirm your suspicions. How Do I Keep Them Away?
Borate treated lumber must be used in any home construction or remodeling. All siding and foundation holes must be sealed and rotted wood replaced, especially next to drains and gutters. Cap with metal any wood that contacts soil and store firewood outdoors.
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