Ants around the house are generally just a nuisance pest. They can get into some of your food and freak you out, but they generally do not post a structural hazard to your home. That changes a bit with carpenter ants.
So What Do You Need to Know About Carpenter Ants?
- Carpenter ants often get confused with termites because they have the similar behavior of chewing up wood. Unlike the termites, carpenter ants do not eat the wood for food. Carpenter ants will sprout wings as well and will look similar to a termite swarm.
- Carpenter ants chew up wood into ‘galleries’ in order to create places for them to lay eggs. Unlike the termites whose wood chewing develops ‘mud’ like tunnels, the carpenter ants chewing is dry. If you notice small piles of saw dust around a woodpile or under roof eaves then the likely hood of carpenter ants being the problem goes up. Carpenter bees will create similar piles of saw dust when creating their galleries to build nests.
- Carpenter ants ideally chew on rotted and/or moist wood. This allows them protection and easier ability to create their galleries for laying eggs. They will chew on dry wood if that is the only source for nesting that they can find.
- The most common carpenter ant we find in the United Stats is the black carpenter ant. The Black Carpenter Ant is also the largest of the species found in the United States. We have approximately 10 different species of carpenter ants in Tennessee. The Black Field Ant is often confused with the Black Carpenter Ant. This is a problem when someone tries to sell a homeowner an expensive carpenter ant treatment, when, in actuality they only had black field ants (for the record, we are not one of those pest control companies).
- Carpenter ants do not pose a threat to a humans health. They can damage a home structurally if allowed to feed on your home unchecked. But the most they can do to a human is bite them, which feels like a slight pinch. They do look pretty formidable a bug with their front pinchers and comparable size to other ants.
- Many times is worth your time and money to call on a pest control professional to get rid of carpenter ants. Since their nesting source can be tricky to find and eliminate with household pesticides save your energy on this pest. This will also help you from damaging your own home in trying to eliminate the carpenter ant colony.
- If you do not have carpenter ants to get rid of you can help prevent them from getting into your house by; correcting roof or drainage leaks that create moisture issues, keep firewood away from the home, trimming back tree branches that touch the house, and seal any cracks in the foundation that might give access to the house.
Carpenter ants are most active starting around March in this area and can go into October. If you see them in your home do not assume that they are feeding on your home (remember they don’t actually feed on wood) but are looking for food just like any other ant does. If you want to know even more about carpenter ants you can download this white paper from University of Tennessee’s Extension program on carpenter ants.