It can be tricky trying to figure out whether or not your property is being damaged by carpenter ants. These ants have a tendency toward nocturnal activity, and most of the damage they do is on the inside of wood. What's worse is this: the warning signs carpenter ants provide can be hidden or confusing. Today, we're going to break down what you need to know and how you can prevent carpenter ants from damaging your Bay Area property right underneath your nose.

carpenter ant eating wood
carpenter ant on a leaf

Is It A Carpenter Ant?

If you see ants crawling around on your property, it can be difficult to tell that you're looking at a carpenter ant species. Here are a few facts you should know:

  • Carpenter ants can be all black or black and dark red, but they are far from the only ants that have this coloration.

  • Carpenter ants are the largest ants that will get into your home, but not all carpenter ants are large. There are major and minor workers in a colony. If you see a small worker, you might confuse it with another ant species.

  • Carpenter ants have one node between the thorax and abdomen. You may have to use magnification to see this. Also, keep in mind that they aren't the only ants with one node.

Is It Carpenter Ant Damage?

When carpenter ants get into the wood of your home, you may start to see splintering holes develop, or some other evidence of damage. This should be a clear sign that your home is being damaged by carpenter ants. Unfortunately, there are many pests that can damage the wood of your Bay Area home. Here are a few facts to consider:

  • You'll probably see ants crawling around if the damage is caused by carpenter ants.

  • If you expose tunnels and they feel gritting to the touch, those are termite tunnels. Carpenter ant tunnels are smooth.

  • If you find holes that are perfectly round and about the size of a dime, those are carpenter bee tunnels. Carpenter ants create holes but they're only about the size of a pen tip.

Is Sawdust Natural?

Your home does not produce sawdust naturally. If you find material that looks like sawdust, it could be frass created by carpenter ants. This is a warning sign that will leave little doubt that you have a carpenter ant infestation. But, as you've probably noticed, there's always a downside. Carpenter ants can push frass out into wall, ceiling, or floor voids. When they do, you're not going to be able to see it.

Is This A Winged Ant?

The most noticeable warning sign carpenter ants will provide is the appearance of winged ants inside, or on the outside, of your home. Carpenter ant alates are twice the size of workers. A winged carpenter ant can be over an inch long. Sounds great. What's the downside? Here are a few things to consider.

  • Winged carpenter ants don't swarm together for long. A typical swarm will break apart in less than 30 minutes.

  • Winged carpenter ants are often released outside of a home. This allows them to easily go undetected.

  • When winged carpenter ants appear on the inside of a home, homeowners sometimes suck them up with a vacuum and assume the winged ants came in from the outside. We hope you never do this. A winged carpenter ant has no interest in getting inside a structure until after it has mated.

  • Winged carpenter ants are produced by a mature nest. When you start to see them, it is likely that your home has been damaged by these pests for years.

Is That Carpenter Ants I Hear?

It is possible to hear carpenter ants inside your walls. Homeowners describe the sound as a rustling noise. This is a helpful warning sign, as long as carpenter ants are chewing on wood that is within earshot. The problem with hearing carpenter ants is that they attack softened wood first. They will typically target wood that is near moist soil. Don't expect them to be in your living room walls at first. They're likely to start with structural support beams. What this means is that you're likely to see your floors start sinking before you hear carpenter ants inside the wood of your home.

Do You See The Problem?

While it can be easy to detect carpenter ants, it is also possible for your home to be significantly damaged without noticing any warning signs. The facts given above can help you catch these ants early, but there is an even better way. When you invest in a residential pest control plan for your Bay Area home, you'll get routine inspections from a licensed pest control technician who has the training, education, and experience to detect carpenter ant activity and conducive conditions. Reach out to Bay Pest to learn what options are available. No Bay Area home should ever be without a pest control plan. Let our team help you get your plan in place today.  


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