Carpenter Ants and How to Control Them

Ants are a familiar pest for many homeowners when they sneak into your pantry, build bothersome anthills in your yard or bite unwary pets and children. One particular breed of ants stands out by presenting a different kind of threat, though. Carpenter ants, if left unchecked, can wreak havoc in the wooden supports of your home and threaten its structural integrity. Catching an infestation early on, though, can save you from costly repairs.

Identifying Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are noticeably larger than other species, anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length, and are usually black or reddish-orange in color. They nest in dead, damp wood—this usually means old trees in their native forests, but buildings may be vulnerable. When nesting indoors, carpenter ants prefer attics and crawlspaces, but any wooden structure can work, especially if there is plenty of moisture. Look for telltale signs like wood fragments or sawdust excavated from the nest, as well as dead ants or insects nearby. You can tell carpenter ant nests apart from termite nests by a smooth, sanded appearance with external “windows” and a lack of mud and dirt that termites like.

What To Do

Your home can be vulnerable to carpenter ants if it’s within or near a wooded area. Keep about a foot of open space between any structures and surrounding plant matter, including mulch, and inspect regularly for possible entry sites. Also, address any moisture issues you find in the house, such as leaky or “sweating” pipes; this is a good idea for keeping out most other pests, too.

If you find a nest, you can apply boric acid or insecticides to treat the wood and exterminate ants. However, because these nests are usually in hard-to-reach areas and colonies may build satellite nests, a DIY operation can be difficult. When you suspect your home is infested, look for local contractors that specialize in handling carpenter ants Dallas OR.