What do you think of when you hear the term, carpenter ant? If you have an imagination, you might picture a little cartoon ant guy wearing steel-toed boots and a utility belt, carrying a tiny little tool box. And if these large black ants were actually the Mr.-Fix-It type, that went throughout your home making repairs, then you would be happy to see them coming and going. But the truth of the matter is, carpenter ants destroy things. They don't build. They weaken structures and don't fix anything at all. Because of these facts, it is important to know what a carpenter ant looks like, and the signs they leave, so you can stop the damage they are doing before it becomes irreparable.
What do carpenter ants really look like?
If you see a single large ant, it may be a carpenter ant scout. These ants are usually black, but some have a dark red coloring. They are the largest type of ant you will see crawling around inside your home, and typically measure anywhere between 7 and 12 mm long. If you look closely, and it is a carpenter ant, you should see a single node between its thorax and its abdomen.
What are signs of a carpenter ant infestation?
A single ant: If you see one, lone carpenter ant wandering around inside your home, there are probably more within your walls. A lot more in fact. Carpenter ant colonies send out scout ants to search for food. But sometimes, these ants can invade a structure for months, or even years, doing damage, while only venturing outside for food. In this way they can go undetected for very long periods of time.
Carpenter ant swarmers: If you find winged ants crawling around on the outside of your walls or windows, you should take note. Swarmers don't last very long or go very far. If you are seeing these flying ants outside your home, you can be certain that there is a mature colony on your property, or very nearby.
If you find these winged ants on the inside of your windows, it is highly likely that you already have a mature colony established within the walls of your home. If you do not recognize this fact, and simply vacuum up the offensive creatures, the nest they came from will just keep on thriving, digging away at the inside of your support beams and other wood inside your home. And the next time there are winged swarmers, you may miss them since swarms don't last long before disappearing inside walls again, where they establish new colonies.
Damaged wood: If left to mature and multiply, carpenter ants will eat galleries inside wood. This causes support structures to weaken and, when this happens, doors and windows may become more difficult to open and close. Other signs of a possible carpenter ant infestation are floors that sink, walls that bulge, and ceilings that sag. But before things get this bad, you will see carpenter ants being more active outside your walls. Unlike termites, that work exclusively inside wood, carpenter ants are more likely to come out of hiding when populations grow large enough.
Sawdust: Unlike termites, carpenter ants don't consume wood, they simply tunnel through it. For this reason you may see the "sawdust" that these insects kick out of their tunnels. This sawdust is likely to be found in crawl spaces, in basements, and under external structures such as decks or outside stairways.
Many large black ants: If a scout finds a food source inside your home, you may then notice a large number of these large black ants crawling around inside your home. But before you get out the vacuum, take note that this would be the ideal time to call in a professional to do an inspection and find out where those little wood-destroyers are coming from.
If you are seeing these large black ants inside your home, or if you are seeing any of the signs they leave, reach out to us here at Chemtec today for immediate assistance. Don't wait until severe damage has been done. Protect your equity today.