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Carpenter ants may be small, but they sure do create quite a racket—their burrowing noises are described to sound a lot like crinkling cellophane. That’s only one of the signs that these houseguests are present and compromising the structure of your home. 

If you’re wondering if you have an infestation, keep reading to learn more about what carpenter ants look like, what kind of wood they find tastiest, how to get rid of them, and when it’s time to call in a professional pest control service.

Get help with your carpenter ants problems by calling the carpenter ants control pros at Hawx Pest Control! Dial (704) 659-3200 today.

What are carpenter ants?

Carpenter ants are large ants, around ½ to ⅝ of an inch, that burrow inside wood to build their tunnels and nests for their colonies. A distinct characteristic of carpenter ants is the sound they make when burrowing into wood—a crinkly-crunchy sound as well as a telltale sawdust trail. They live throughout the U.S., but are most commonly found in the north.

Throughout the course of their lifetime, carpenter ants can be found in any cool, damp region involving wood. While they love the protection of structural wood in houses, they’ll also opt for tree trunks, rotting fence posts, loose lumber, or under stones as well. The main colony and nest with the queen can usually be found outside.

Carpenter ants are bigger ants with heart-shaped heads. They’re typically any combination of red, brown, or black in color. They have bent antennae, making them easily identifiable from termites that have straight antennae. Most are wingless, except for the swarmers, who hatch during spring and summer months and are known as flying carpenter ants.

What do carpenter ants eat?

Surprisingly, they don’t actually eat wood, they just burrow into wood and move any pieces aside to make room for their tunnels and nests. 

Their diet actually consists of sugary foods left behind by humans as well as eggs, meats, and grease. Outside, they typically feed on arthropods or other small insects and plant and fruit juices.

Are carpenter ants dangerous?

Although you might experience some mild irritation if a carpenter ant bites you, these ants really only cause danger to your home. By extension, your family and you could be at risk of injury from structural damage due to compromised stability in your home. 

Carpenter ants also rarely bite pets, but if they do, you should check your furry friend for irritation or discomfort and use hydrocortisone cream to calm any reactions.

What are the signs of carpenter ants?

The signs of a carpenter ant infestation can vary, but you can look out for some of most common ones below:

  • Slit-shaped holes in wood around your house
  • Crinkle or rustling noises behind walls (often more noticeable at night)
  • Dry wood chips, sawdust, or wood clippings on the floor
  • An excess of winged ants in your space which may mean a colony is nearby because the winged males typically don’t hatch until 2 years after the creation of a nest

Carpenter ants are attracted to rotting, moldy wood with excess moisture. Keep an eye out around your home for any signs of rotting wood in addition to the carpenter ant signs above.

How can I stop carpenter ants from getting into my home?

Carpenter ants typically enter a home through any openings or cracks in the floors, walls, or doors. They can also get in through firewood or other wood you bring in and out of your house. Air conditioners and heating ducts also pose an infestation risk, but since we all need these things, it’s better to be vigilant and try some of the tips below than to avoid using your air and heat out of fear of spreading an infestation.

Here are some things you can do to stop an infestation:

  • Weatherproof your home with caulking or weatherstrips
  • Dry out any damp or wet places
  • Turn off any leaking hoses or other water access points
  • Add finish on any wooden structures (the chemicals keep the bugs out)
  • Keep waste receptacles away from your structure
  • Clean up any wooden debris around your yard so they can’t make nests

How do I get rid of a carpenter ant infestation?

If the steps above aren’t working because the carpenter ants have already established a nest and colony inside your home, a professional pest control service is your next step.

At Hawx, we use a procedure that consists of a two-part treatment that first assesses the leftover scraps of the ants while planting bait and traps and then treats the inside and outside of your home if needed. This process usually addresses existing carpenter ant colonies within 7-10 days.

What other insects destroy wood?

There are multiple other insects that pose significant risks to your home’s structure. These include:

  • powderpost beetles
  • wood borers
  • bark beetles
  • termites

All of these insects put your family at risk by harming the stability of your home. While knowing the difference between these insects might help you win Jeopardy, the habits and risks of each one are similar and may require professional pest control assessment and services to address the full problem.

What is the difference between carpenter ants and termites?

Although both carpenter ants and termites can be black in color and small, they can be distinguished by their antennae—termites have straight antennae and carpenter ants have bent antennae. 

Another major difference involves the appearance of their tunnels in the wood. Think of carpenter ants like master craftsmen who carefully carve smooth, clean tunnels in your crawl spaces. On the other end of the spectrum, termites are less careful; their tunnels have a lot more soil, mud, and rough surfaces left behind. 

Both carpenter ants and termites do pose a significant risk to your home as they both burrow into wood and can damage and eventually destroy its structural integrity. If you think you have an infestation from either insect, it’s important to call a professional pest service to assess the situation, to protect your home and keep down repair costs, and to ultimately give you peace of mind.

Need help with your carpenter ants problem in Charlotte, Rock Hill, Gastonia, Concord, Statesville, Hickory and Shelby or beyond? Contact Hawx Pest Control today!


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