It is estimated that there are around a hundred ant species in the Bay area. None of them are considered a serious medical threat to humans. They can, however, make us ill by carrying harmful bacteria from a trash bin to a stored food product, or something similar. Ants crawl in many dirty places. This makes them a mechanical vector for microscopic organisms. But, as threats go, the danger is fairly low. Only a select number of ant species will get into your home. When they do, you're likely to take action to get rid of them because they're annoying guests. But we have one type of ant in the Bay area that can get into your home without making itself an annoyance. It's called a carpenter ant. These ants could make you sick without you realizing it. They can also lead to structural damage. Here are a few things every Bay Area property owner should know about carpenter ants.

ants eating plants
carpenter ant eating wood

What do carpenter ants look like?

Carpenter ants vary in appearance. What they look like depends on the species. Some are black. Some are black and red. Some are yellow and black. Some species are ¼ to ½ an inch in length. Some range from ⅛ to 5/16 of an inch in length. Male and female alates are twice the size of workers. Some are around an inch long. Alates are the winged reproductives that are produced by mature colonies. When you see winged carpenter ants, it is fairly easy to tell them apart from other ants because they are the largest of all winged ants in our area. But you might have some trouble telling a carpenter ant worker from an odorous house ant, which is another very common ant species in the Bay Area. Here are a few facts to help with identification:

  • Odorous house ants are 1/16 to ⅛ of an inch long. Only the smallest of carpenter ants come close to being as small as one of these ants.
  • Carpenter ant workers are polymorphic. This is to say that they vary in size within the colony. If you see a bunch of ants crawling around, and they are all the same size, you're probably not looking at carpenter ants.
  • Carpenter ants prefer darkness and are most active at night. You're likely to see these ants crawling around just after sundown.

Should you be worried about carpenter ants?

If left untreated, carpenter ants have the potential to be very destructive. It is wise to have these ants treated when you see signs of activity. A carpenter ant colony can damage your home for years without ever raiding your kitchen or pantry. They can find many sources of food outside, such as honeydew left by insects on the plants in your landscaping.

What are the signs of carpenter ants?

  • These ants push frass out of their tunnels. This is a mixture of sawdust and feces. Look for frass coming out of gaps, cracks, and holes. It may be attached to a surface or piled on the ground below.

  • Carpenter ants will target wood that has been softened by moisture. This might be a window or door frame. It might be the sole plates on your home. It could be the wood of a deck. If you see holes forming, or wood beginning to splinter, you could have a carpenter ant infestation.

  • If you see large ants with wings crawling around inside your home, take notice. That is a warning sign of a serious infestation.

What do I do about carpenter ants?

Carpenter ants can be difficult to eliminate. If you attempt to control these ants on your own, you may not realize that the infestation still exists. We strongly recommend professional ant control. Reach out to us here at Bay Pest. We can walk you through the process and make sure your ant infestation is properly dealt with. 


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