Is It Possible To Treat For Carpenter Ants Yourself In The Bay Area?

carpenter ant near rocks

The world is filled with ants. We do our best to separate them by species, but there are more than 12,000 species of ants in the world. To make things more complicated, most of them are black, brown, or red. When you see a black ant in your home, you may know that it is bad to have black carpenter ants in your home but you may not know whether or not you're looking at a black carpenter ant. What's worse is you may see a large red ant and not know that it is likely a carpenter ant. The first step is knowing how to identify carpenter ants. But it only gets more complicated from there. We wish that we could say carpenter ant pest control in The Bay Area is easy. Unfortunately, it isn't. The only easy way to deal with carpenter ants is to hire someone who has taken the classes and learned what is required to locate and stop carpenter ants. You can give us a call or contact us through our contact form for assistance. If you want to do it yourself, we would still like to help. We've put together this page to guide you toward an effective solution and give you the best chance of success. We'll discuss where carpenter ants live, the problems they cause that will help you find them, and the challenges you may face along the way.

Carpenter Ant Nests: Where Are They?

carpenter ant on fruit

You'll find carpenter ant nests in many places. They might create a nest in a stump, log, or dying tree in your yard. They may tunnel into a rotted board on your back deck. They may find a gap in your exterior, enter your home, and nest in a wall void. The worst situation is when they nest inside interior, structural wood. Your first step in dealing with carpenter ants is locating them. We recommend inspecting your landscaping at night with a flashlight. If you see large ants crawling around on your bushes and ornamental plants, you may have an opportunity to track the ant trails to where the nest is located. Why do they get into your landscaping? Most carpenter ants in the Bay Area love honeydew and nectar. Honeydew is produced by aphids and other plant-damaging pests, and nectar is found in flowers. Some species eat insects, both alive and dead. No matter what your carpenter ants prefer, they'll likely find it in your landscaping. Step one is to catch them in the act and figure out where they're nesting.   

What Problems Can Carpenter Ants Create In My Home?

Carpenter ants are usually sneaky. It can take years to detect a carpenter ant problem. If you understand what problems they cause, you may stop them early. We'll try to put the problems in order.

A Workers Ant: The first problem carpenter ants cause is they appear in your home and annoy you. When you see a large ant (and by large we mean about ½ of an inch in length), it is likely a carpenter ant. But winged ants of other species that have shed their wings may look like carpenter ant workers. Male and female winged reproductives are typically twice the size of workers. So, an ant species that has workers that are ⅛ of an inch long may have alates that are ¼ of an inch. But it is rare to find any ant that is larger than ½ inch unless it is a carpenter ant. If you find any ant that is black, red with a black abdomen, or entirely red, that is more than ⅝ of an inch in length, you have found a carpenter ant. While annoying, you might want to thank that ant for showing itself. 

Many Worker Ants: When you find lots of large ants in your house, you'll likely take notice. A group of ants is far more annoying than a single ant, and it is a problem you'll likely want to fix quickly. But carpenter ants rarely invade Bay Area homes because they can find all the food they need outside. They also prefer nocturnal activity and will invade your kitchen and pantry while you sleep. So, you can't count on seeing carpenter ants indoors. But if you're fortunate to have that problem, it may help you arrest an infestation before significant damage is done. 

A Winged Ant: When you see a winged ant crawling around in your home, it is a problem. But you may easily suck it up with your vacuum. That is what most people do. However, if you go on with your day thinking that winged ant (or several winged ants) randomly entered your home through an open door, window, or gap, there is something you should know. Winged ants are attracted to light. They're not interested in entering a dim home during the day. Most sightings of individual, winged ants, inside, are an indication that there is a nest in the home. 

Sawdust: A carpenter makes sawdust, so do carpenter ants—only we refer to the material carpenter ants make as frass. Frass is more than sawdust. It also contains insect parts and fecal matter. You may find frass in many places. We recommend inspecting any crawlspace under your home, corners of your garage, underneath your deck, and in dark areas of your home.

Damage: Carpenter ants make tunnels that are similar to termite tunnels, but unlike termites, carpenter ants can cause visible damage. They don't have a problem coming out of hiding and walking around in the dry air, so you may find holes in wood frames, baseboards, and other structural wood. You may also see tiny kickout holes. Carpenter ants create these tiny holes to push frass out of their tunnels. Seeing damage can let you know that you have a carpenter ant problem but not before they cause damage.

Noises: Carpenter ants make noises that you may detect. The noise they make is a slight clicking sound. If they have created a gallery inside a piece of wood that is in a common area of your home, you may hear them, particularly if their gallery is invaded by another ant species or some other predator. When an invasion occurs, the workers move rapidly and their tiny feet click as they scale the walls of their galleries. But by the time you hear clicking, you'll already have galleries in your home. That is not the best time to catch carpenter ants.

Do you see how the problems carpenter ants cause can help you detect them? When you know what to look for, you can zero in on nesting sights and test baits to see what will work, but as you consider baiting those ants, you should understand the pitfalls. 

Why It Is So Difficult To Get Rid Of Carpenter Ants On Your Own

Ant bait is often used by Bay Area residents to address carpenter ant problems. But baits tend to fail. Some professionals don't trust bait and prefer to use targeted applications of undetectable materials. Here are a few reasons why.

  • When a carpenter ant worker discovers a food source, it lays down a pheromone scent for other workers to find. Pheromones are how ants communicate. But carpenter ants don't recruit a large number of workers to collect a food source. Only a small number will gather your bait. So, when that small number of workers are eliminated, the other workers take notice and will start to avoid the food source.
  • Applying too little bait or too much bait in one location is often the way bait fails with carpenter ants because of their ability to become bait averse. Professionals must apply correct amounts in several strategic locations to get results. A professional will also perform inspections, monitor the success of the bait applications, and alter the treatment plan as needed. 
  • Some baits are sweet and some have a protein base. Using the wrong bait will result in no control at all.

There is more to it than this, but you get the idea. Baits and ant control products are best applied by a trained individual. You may attempt to do it yourself, but we strongly recommend detailed inspections to make sure your ant control solutions are actually working. It is disheartening to discover years later that they did not.       

Professional Carpenter Ant Extermination In The Bay Area

If you are in the Bay Area, contact Bay Pest for ant control in your yard and home. Our trained and experienced technicians can give you peace of mind. We use trusted products and field-tested strategies to ensure complete control of these wood-damaging pests. You don't have to wait until you see lots of ants in your home, find damage to the wood of your home, or hear the clicking noise of a thousand carpenter ant feet inside your walls. Reach out to us today for effective pest control in the Bay Area. We're here to help.  

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