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Have you ever wondered why the “Carpenter ant” name was created? They’ve got their name because of the way they damage the wood that makes up the home and furniture. But is their damage truly dangerous or is it just a nuisance? 

prevent carpenter ants

There are more than 700 species of ants in the United States. Ants are the number one nuisance pest in the country. They are large black ants crawling around in and near your home.  

How damaging can they actually be? You won’t see this pest actually damaging your home but they chew on the inside of the wood instead of the outside and that is why it is tricky to detect them. 

Let’s find out how much damage can they cause and how to get rid of them.

Carpenter ants are dangerous 

Carpenter ants seem to look as if they are harmless insects, but if you had experienced a Carpenter ant bite, then you would know how painful it would be. They have been known to bite humans occasionally and have extremely powerful jaws for their size. 

When they bite, you will feel a pinch and then some minor irritation in the place. They are dangerous but not in the way you think. They are dangerous when it comes to structural damage.

Their life revolves around biting and chewing moist and softwood. They don’t consume wood the way termites do, instead would chew and excrete to make pathways for themselves and their other ant members. 

This can cause thousands of dollars in damages to the home or business, also it could cause bodily harm if the structural damage is not taken care of and there are chances for the building to collapse. 

What do they do? 

get rid of Carpenter ants

First, carpenter ants make initial contact with wet wood or wood that has been damaged by mold. They burrow into wood and create comprehensive tunnel systems within them. These tunnel systems become the homes for colonies and queens and over the years, they can become comprehensive networks of colonies “satellite colonies”. 

Carpenters make their initial contact with wood because they find them weakened by water damage or rot and then begin to build their colony so it will easily penetrate. Over time, even dry and undamaged wood will become a target of a growing colony. 

Where are carpenter ants found?

In the United States, there are nine types of carpenter ants. You can find them in cool, damp climates in the northern regions of the country.

They build their nests in various wood sources like tree stumps, fence posts, firewood, or landscaping. They attack the wood that has been wet or damaged as a result of leaks. Damaged windows, damaged doorframes, crawlspaces under chimneys, bathtubs, roofs, and sinks. 

More than 10,000 workers would be there in a mature carpenter ant colony. They will have multiple nests inside structures as well as outdoors in large colonies. 

How do Carpenter ants come inside the home? 

You might think that Carpenter ants always get into your home by chewing their way through the wood. But no. They can enter your home through any crack or tiny opening, even if it is high above the ground. 

It is through cracks around doors and windows, holes for wires, or straight through wet, damaged wood, they usually gain access to buildings. They will crawl along overhead wires, shrubs, or tree limbs touching the building far above the ground. 

Carpenter ants like to set up their homes near water sources and the areas near air-conditioning units, dishwashers, sinks, and bathtubs are all popular places for carpenter ants.

Carpenter ants signs

They are larger than most other ant species ranging in size from one-quarter inch for a worker ant to up to three-quarters of an inch. You can identify a carpenter ant from other types by its size. They are big about 1/2″ to 5/8″. They can either be black or red, sometimes a combination of both colors.

 You may notice wood fragments and sawdust that fall through the cracks the ants have created. Also, badly damaged wood will have small openings, like little windows. You may also start seeing random piles of particles that look like wood shavings. 

Carpenter ants vs termites

Sometimes you may see carpenter ants in the house and carpenter ants damage. But then confuse it with termites. Sometimes, most of the damage they create will be in places you can’t see. 

Carpenter ants and termites are both insects that cause damage to buildings and structures of wood. But there are a few differences between them. Carpenter ants are larger with a narrow waist. But termites have broad waists. Carpenter ants nest in wood but do not consume. They excavate galleries in wood, but termites consume wood as a main source of food. They have small mandibles and consume wood by ingesting and breaking it down. 

Termites are known to feed up to the paint on a wall and stop. So if you see bubbling paint on the wall, it may be a warning sign of termites. You won’t see carpenter ant damage in your home. But over time, you may begin to notice windows beginning to stick or open and close freely. The doors, and ceiling, will stick. 

The floors will feel spongy to walk on and the walls will start to bulge out. 

Importance of Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants is important in their ecosystem. It is because they help to break down dead wood and other plant material, which helps to recycle nutrients back into the soil. Carpenter ants are also a food source for many other animals, including birds and mammals.

In terms of human impact, they can be considered pests when they infest buildings and cause structural damage. 

The diet of Carpenter ants

Actually, Carpenter ants are opportunistic feeders. Their diet will vary depending on the availability of food sources and it is diverse. Primarily they feed on sugary substances like nectar, honeydew, and fruit juice. 

They also eat other insects, including other ants, and are known to rummage on dead animals. In addition to these natural food sources, they may also feed on food scraps and other materials found in human-made structures, such as grease, oil, and meat. Carpenter ants can also feed on wood, which is the primary cause of structural damage to buildings when they infest them.

Carpenter ants need a constant water source to survive

How to get rid of Carpenter ants? 

Carpenter ants can be destructive. The problem is that they can cause severe damage that can end up in expensive repairs. So it is important to get rid of Carpenter ants damage. Preventing them before they ever find a way into your home is the best way to treat this pest.

As carpenter ants need constant water to survive, it is better to eliminate moisture or the standing water in your place, especially the places that are prone to dampness. Use a  dehumidifier in crawl spaces, basements, and attics. 

If you find tree branches and shrubs near the house, you can trim tree branches and shrubs away from the home. Because these are the ones that provide highways for ants and other pests. Fill any gaps or cracks on the outside of the home with silicone caulk. Make sure to store Firewood and other wood-building materials at least 20 feet from your home and five inches off the ground. 

Other ways to get rid of Carpenter ants

Replace wood

carpenter ants damage wood

Replacing bad wood is a sure way to get rid of carpenter ants damage.  Remove the soft decaying wood because it is what they use for nesting. This cannot be that easy because the affected wood is often hidden inside walls behind siding or wallboard. 

Check for the walls where plumbing pipes are located because this is where moisture condensing on cold water pipes often introduces rot into walls. Frame members and sill around windows and doors are the primary locations. 

As soon as you find carpenter ants around your home it is better to suspect moisture and find them. Insulate water pipes to correct condensation issues and make sure that the flashings around windows and patio doors are in good shape. 

Use cinnamon

Do you know that carpenter ants hate cinnamon?  This is because the cinnamon blocks the scent trail that they used to find food and get back to the nest.  The cinnamon act as a natural repellent for the ants. They have a strong smell that ants hate.  While you get rid of the carpenter ants,  you can also leave your home smelling nice. 

You can add essential oil to Cinnamon powder for more effective results so it gives a bust with a stronger smell and keeps the ants away.

Baking Soda

Baking soda actually prevents carpenter ants damage. There is a mixture made using baking soda and powdered sugar, which naturally attracts the ants while the baking soda naturally kills the ants. 

You can create a mixture of baking soda and powdered sugar as an ant bait. You can also use a small dish or lid to contain the mixture. After creating, sprinkle this mix near the locations that attract the highest traffic of ants. Place it in the path of the carpenter ants or near the carpenter ant colony.

Turmeric

Many people use Turmeric to keep ants at bay. Ants that are looking to invade your home will be deterred by the strong scent of turmeric. This solution act as an effective repellent, and also comes with all-natural and cost-friendly results. 

Boiling water

This is effective if the carpenter’s ant nest is outside.  If it is so you can use this natural method to attack the ant colony directly. Boil a few liters of water and once it is boiled pour it carefully and directly into the nest.

And essential oils, water-soluble insecticides, or soap help to make the water more effective. Repeat the process a few times to make sure the colony is completely eliminated.

How to prevent carpenter ants damage? 

Carpenter ants tree

Calling a professional 

Sometimes it will be difficult or impossible to locate and destroy.  And it would be hard to prevent the carpenter ants damage. If this is the case you are facing, then you need to call a professional pest control operator.

They are pest control companies that approach Carpenter ant problems differently.  Some will try to locate the next and selectively treat only the specific areas, while some companies take more of an approach, Drilling, and dusting many potential wall voids and nesting sites. 

Some companies apply a perimeter spray treatment around the outside foundation of the home to temporarily prevent re-invasion.  This is simply spraying each month where carpenter ants are seen but is not a good approach.  Because if the location of the nest is not found the problem will most likely continue.

You also have to reconsider the price because it depends on the company and the number of efforts.  Carpenter ants and problems are not always solved on the first attempt and so the guarantee and the reputation of the company should be considered in purchasing decision. 

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