Spring is here, and those unwanted pests that we haven’t given much thought to during winter are once again beginning to pop up in all the wrong places. Carpenter ants are no exception.
They are among the largest and most problematic ants in Eastern Massachusetts. And even though carpenter ants are valuable to the Earth’s ecosystem (they chew wood and turn it into fine sawdust that easily decomposes, providing compost for new environmental growth), once they enter your home or business, this destructive and common pest becomes quite a different story.
Understanding Carpenter Ant Nests
Carpenter ants typically have two types of nests: parent colonies and satellite colonies. Parent colonies are usually outdoors, found in wood that is moist or rotted places such as tree stumps, logs, old boards, rotting trees or tree roots. Carpenter ants also nest in wood that is decaying or moist inside of dwellings, such as in bathrooms or under sinks and dishwashers
Stacked-stone foundations prevalent in eastern Massachusetts neighborhoods like Beacon Hill and Bay Village provide the perfect target for carpenter ant activity. Moisture easily penetrates through the stone foundations and becomes trapped between the stone and wood studs, providing a desirable environment for carpenter ants to nest.
Satellite nests are composed mostly of worker ants and usually have less moisture, so eggs would typically not be present due to the possible potential of drying out. But even more interesting is the fact that a homeowner or tenant may never even see any sign of a nest but may still have an infestation.
“The biggest difference between a parent colony and a satellite colony is the size,” Catseye Pest Control Vice President Joe Dingwall said. “It’s likely a homeowner never even sees a nest, but it may very well be present.”
How do Carpenter Ants Get Inside of Homes?
Carpenter ants can enter homes and businesses via wet or damaged wood, but they will also enter by way of cracks around windows and doors, creating paths through healthy wood if necessary.
Since a satellite nest doesn’t need to support the lifecycle, carpenter ant satellite nests can be found in fairly dry locations compared to that of parent nests. Dry locations that host satellite nests can consist of spaces such as wall voids, inside of insulation in attics, or inside hollow doors.
Satellite carpenter ant workers move between parent nests to transport food, pupae, and, if the moisture level of the satellite net is suitable, eggs.
“A fully evolved carpenter ant colony can contain up to 10,000 individuals, with only about 10 to 15 percent of ants working outside the nest, foraging for food,” Dingwall said. “Carpenter ants are can travel up to 100 yards away from their nest in search of food, so if you see one in your home or business, it’s not necessarily conclusive evidence of an in-home infestation.”
Carpenter Ant Infestations
On the other hand, carpenter ant infestations often go unnoticed until it’s too late, becoming a cost-ridden situation that is not easily corrected. The damage caused by carpenter ants is often confused with termite damage, as are the insects themselves. Termites actually eat and digest the cellulose found in the wood, carpenter ants simply hollow out galleries to use as nests in wood.
While both are invasive pests, carpenter ants take longer to cause extensive structural damage. It is important to take note of the signs typically associated with carpenter ant infestations to help thwart the extensiveness of the havoc they wreak on your structure, as well as taking preventative measures to make your home or business less desirable for carpenter ants in the first place.
Signs of carpenter ants:
Piles of wood shavings (think sawdust) can usually be found beneath wooden areas like baseboards, door jams and window sills
Rustling noises coming from inside walls or hollow doors
Winged ants creeping out from ceilings, walls, or other hidden crevices
Shed wings of swarmer carpenter ants near window sills, baseboards, and vents
Tips to prevent carpenter ant infestations:
Store firewood away from the home and trim back bushes and trees from the edge of the house.
Fix water leaks and adjust the grading around your house so there is no standing water.
Install proper screening in windows and door sweeps on entry doors.
Seal cracks in the foundation with caulk.
Regularly wipe down counters and vacuum floors to remove crumbs that could attract ants.
Use airtight containers to store food in the pantry.
Catseye Pest Control has a tried and true Carpenter Ant Eradication Program to evict these unwanted house guests. If you are concerned about carpenter ants in your home, contact us to schedule your free inspection.