Learn How to Identify Carpenter Ant Swarmers & Females in Your House or Business
Ants are typically thought to be relatively harmless.
But that’s not always the case.
Carpenter ants are the largest ant species that invade homes, and these ones are known for the damage they can cause homeowners by chewing through wood.
These larger-sized ants can range in color, but are typically dull black, red, or muddy brown. They can also grow to be more than a centimeter in length.
Though there are many different species of ants within the United States, a typical way to distinguish carpenter ants from other species of ants is by observing their bodily composition. Unlike most ant species whose bodies have two nodes and a rough thorax, carpenter ants have a single node and a smooth thorax.
Another identifying factor of carpenter ants is the presence of wings. During the carpenter ants’ mating season, swarmers — which are winged carpenter ants responsible for reproduction — surface to mate.
Male swarmers are smaller than female ants and die soon after impregnating the female. She, however, will move on to begin another colony.
“Mature colonies that produce swarmers have typically been around for 6 to10 years,” lead Catseye Pest Control technician Paul Dube, A.C.E., said. “These nests are larger than the satellite nests and hold all stages of ants: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult worker carpenter ants. Satellite colonies being smaller sometimes will house larvae and mature pupa.”
Carpenter ant infestations are often mistaken for a termite infestation because of their large size, wings, and the damage that they do to wood. However, termite bodily structure and color differ from that of the carpenter ant as well as wood damage.
Carpenter Ant Damage & Frass
A carpenter ant infestation can lead to serious damage to your home or business if left unchecked.
Carpenter ant damage often begins when a colony outside your home or business finds an attractive piece of moist or decaying wood. These ants are most likely to go after wooden structures, or enter through worn, damp, or damaged wood at the base of the foundation.
“The standard criteria for nesting carpenter ants is wood that has been effected by moisture,” Dube, A.C.E. explained. “Once inside, these ants will excavate smooth galleries and discard the wood shavings out of the nest creating piles of frass, which will also contain body parts of dead carpenter ants.”
It is rare that carpenter ants will go after dry wood, as the prefer to make nests in wood that contains moisture. They’ll chew tunnels into the wood where they will build their nests, leaving the weakened wood hollowed and vulnerable to collapse.
While damage may sometimes be visible from the outside, it is most often on the inside of the wood and therefore much more difficult to detect.
“If the frass is visible, it’s a sure indication a carpenter ant colony is in the area,” Dube, A.C.E. said. “Sometimes this frass is hidden behind walls, so locating areas of moisture will help lead you to the carpenter ants.”
Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat wood, but instead discard the wood as the tunnels are created.
The discarded wood chips create small mounds of sawdust in the areas where the worker ants are active — this is frass. If you spot any of these sawdust mounds around your home or business, you could potentially have a carpenter ant infestation.
Other Signs of Carpenter Ant Infestation
Wings Around Entry Point
Another sign of carpenter ant activity is the presence of double-set wings.
Once mating is over, the female swarmer lands and sheds her wings as she is no longer in need of them.
If you are finding discarded wings near vents, window sills, door frames, it is best to contact a pest management professional to inspect your home further as you may be dealing with a carpenter ant problem.
If There’s One Ant, There’s Probably More
Identifying the type of ant that you are seeing, along with pinpointing other signs, is important when determining whether seeing a single ant equals an infestation.
Ants will travel a great distance to forage for food, so seeing one ant may not always be a telltale sign of an invasion, however, it should not be ignored.
“Foragers can be seen on every level of a building as they will forage up to 300 feet from their nest,” Dube, A.C.E. said. “Most common places to find foraging carpenter ants is in the bathroom and kitchen locations due to moisture (water source) and food.”
If you do see an ant (or multiple ants) resembling a carpenter ant, try to determine where the entry point is. If you can track it to a source of damp or moist wood, contact a pest professional immediately for a thorough inspection and treatment.
Noises Made by Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ant infestations can sometimes be detected by faint rustling noises inside woodwork and walls. These sounds are caused by active carpenter ants who are busy working and chewing through wood.
Contact a Pest Control Professional
Carpenter ant infestations can be tricky and even difficult to eradicate on your own as this species of ant is known for building satellite nests in various places.
Because of the level of difficulty eliminating a carpenter ant colony and preventing damage, Catseye has created a carpenter ant treatment and control program.
Our goal is to protect your property and investments by providing award-winning customer service and ultimate level of protection from carpenter ants.
The time-tested process from Catseye includes:
- Cost-free inspection
- Custom-tailored carpenter ant eradication program
- Integrated Pest Management elimination methods
If you suspect your home or commercial business is suffering from carpenter ant damage, learn about our cost and pricing for carpenter ant pest control.