Could your home be falling prey to a carpenter ant outbreak? Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t actually eat wood, instead chewing through it to create nests big enough to house thousands of insects. You’ll only see the occasional forager on the surface or flying around nearby, a sign that they’ve been building their own dangerous home deep inside yours.
The warm spring and summer months form the most common period for carpenter ant infestations, and these pests make frequent appearances in the Pacific Northwest and Northeast, as well as along the East Coast all the way down to Florida.
They nest in both moist and dry wood, but the former is their preference. As a result, you’ll find that they make most of their visits to damp areas, such as spaces around sinks, tubs, poorly sealed door and window frames, roof leak locations, poorly flushed chimneys, behind dishwashers, and even inside hollow porch columns.
Carpenter ants tend to do most of their work at night, so if you see only a few hanging around during daylight hours, don’t assume the problem is minimal. After they’ve started digging in, they’ll leave piles of sawdust on nearby surfaces such as windowsills and countertops, and at that point, you’ll have no doubt that you have a carpenter ant problem.
Over-the-counter treatments don’t do nearly enough to abate a carpenter ant infestation, so call in the professionals. Like termites, carpenter ants can be treated using a new category of pest control products called undetectable liquids, which are able to take best advantage of ants’ social natures through application where the ants are getting to work. The ants then unwittingly carry the chemical around with them, sharing the substance with their nestmates until the whole colony is wiped out.
To prevent a carpenter ant work site from being established anywhere near your home, here are a few things you can do:
- Trim Landscape: Outdoors, keep bushes and any creeping ivy vines well-trimmed and away from exterior surfaces. Ivy may look charming but those lush leaves often hide a carpenter ant fantasyland.
- Seal Cracks: Reduce the risk of moisture buildup by sealing any cracks and leaks in pipes and faucets. Ensure that doors and windows have secure screens, and seal all cracks and crevices around these openings.
- Seal Food: Keep pet food and people foods such as cereal, pasta and flour in resealable containers with tight lids.
- Tidy Up: Keep dining areas and kitchens clean and crumb-free. Sweep and vacuum eating areas often to help eliminate possible food sources.
- Seal Trash: Store garbage in sealed containers, and keep the area around them clean.
By taking preventative measures to avoid attracting carpenter ants, being alert to signs of a carpenter ant infestation, and calling in professionals who can apply the most effective treatments, you’ll be able to protect your home and minimize any damage.