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Detecting Invaders: 5 Signs of Carpenter Ants in House

April 05, 2024

By Rachel Maldonado

Detecting Invaders: 5 Signs of Carpenter Ants in House

Your home is your sanctuary, a place of comfort and safety. But sometimes, unwanted guests can turn tranquility into a battleground. 

Of the many pests that can quietly invade your living space, carpenter ants are among the most insidious, slowly but surely causing damage to your home. 

Understanding the signs of a carpenter ant infestation is integral if you want to keep your home safe and free from ants. 

Appearance and Behavior of Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants, unlike other ants, excavate wood to create elaborate galleries. 

Ranging in size from about ¼ to ½ an inch, these ants come in various shades of red, black, brown, tan or a combination of colors, and are distinguished by their pinpoint waistline and bent antennae.

The worker ants, which you are most likely to encounter, are tasked with the laborious duties of foraging for food and expanding the nest. They consume primarily other insects or honeydew, a sticky byproduct of plant-excreting insects such as aphids.

Carpenter ants prefer to make their homes in old or weakened wood, and are often found in moist conditions where fungi thrive. 

They do not consume wood as termites do; instead, they meticulously hollow out tunnels for their colonies, which over time can lead to structural instability in isolated wood pieces.

Signs of Carpenter Ant Infestation

Carpenter ants leave behind a trail of evidence that, when pieced together, tells a tale of their invasion. Here are the five most common signs of these pests making residence in your abode.

1. Piles of Sawdust

One of the most telltale signs of a carpenter ant infestation is the presence of frass, which is the coarse sawdust created by the ants as they tunnel through the wood. This sawdust is often a mixture of wood fragments and ant parts, and can commonly be found near the entrances to their nests.

2. Faint Rustling Sounds in Walls

In relatively quiet settings, you may be able to hear a rustling noise, particularly at night. This is the sound of carpenter ants at work inside the wood, an auditory cue that a nest is nearby and the structure of your home may be under siege.

3. Visible Ants

Spotting a single carpenter ant within your home is cause for concern, as it’s likely a scout for a much larger number of ants.

Worker ants are often seen traveling along established trails, which you can observe at crevices or corners. If you see one, there are almost certainly more hiding just below the surface.

4. Swarmers

During certain times of the year, typically spring and summer, carpenter ant colonies produce winged members known as ‘swarmers’ or reproductives. If you see these ants, that’s a good sign you have a problem, and that the problem is growing: these members of the colony are tasked with starting new colonies.

5. Hollow-Sounding Wood

Take some time to tap on different surfaces around your home. This will give you an idea of the health of the wood. If a section sounds hollow or papery, it likely means that carpenter ants have been there and the interior structure has been compromised.

Damage Caused by Carpenter Ants

While not as destructive as termites, carpenter ants nonetheless pose a significant threat to the integrity of your home. Here’s what to look for in terms of damage.

Structural Harm

Carpenter ants can weaken structures by hollowing out beams, joists, and other wooden components. Over time, this can lead to serious safety concerns, especially in load-bearing areas. 

Wood Debris

The presence of sawdust is not just a nuisance; it’s an indication that your home is suffering from damage. The longer an infestation goes unnoticed or unaddressed, the more extensive the sawdust buildup can become.

Weakened Surfaces

Wood that has been hollowed out by carpenter ants loses much of its strength and can become compromised, leading to an increased risk of collapse or failure. 

Prevention and Control Measures

The best offense against carpenter ants is a good defense. Here are some tips to make your home less hospitable to these pests.

Moisture Control

Since carpenter ants prefer damp environments, reducing moisture in and around your home is a critical first step in prevention. Fix leaks promptly and make sure everything is properly ventilated in high-humidity areas. Keep gutters and downspouts clean and functioning properly.

Remove Attractive Food Sources

Carpenter ants are attracted to sugary and protein-rich foods. To discourage their presence, store food in airtight containers, clean up spills immediately, and remove food and water sources that may attract them.

Sealing Entry Points

Carpenter ants can exploit tiny cracks and crevices to enter your home. Regularly inspect the exterior for potential entry points, and seal them with caulk or another appropriate material.

Trim Vegetation

Trees and shrubs that come into contact with your home can serve as a bridge for carpenter ants and other pests. Keep vegetation trimmed and away from the structure to prevent ants from gaining easy access.

Consider Professional Pest Control

Carpenter ants may be silent invaders, but they can have a loud and lasting impact on the structure and safety of your home. By familiarizing yourself with the signs and taking proactive measures, you can defend your residence from these pests.

If you suspect that carpenter ants have found their way into your dwelling, don’t wait for the problem to escalate. 

Contact Hawx Pest Control for a thorough inspection and targeted treatment, and take back control of your home. 

Remember, a vigilant defense is the strongest safeguard against these tenacious ants. Join our satisfied family of customers today – and prevent damage from carpenter ants tomorrow. 


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