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Two carpenter ants fighting each other.

Carpenter Ants Pest Control

Every critter has their own story.

The secret of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a proven, cost-effective strategy to combat pest problems without unnecessary pesticide use, is to understand the life-cycle of the pest that is pestering.

Carpenter ant on a piece of tree bark.

What do carpenter ants look like and why are they concerning?

Carpenter ants are members of the genus Camponotus. They have heart-shaped heads with strong mandibles and a rounded thorax. Adults grow to be between 5/8 of an inch and ½ of an inch long, and queens can be up to 1 inch long. After a colony has matured, which takes about two years, winged carpenter ants will appear.

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Carpenter ants can be a variety of colors, including black, brown, red, yellow, or a combination of these colors. In the United States, the black carpenter ant is the most common. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not consume wood. Instead, they chew through it and leave behind a sawdust-like material called frass. Carpenter ants are not dangerous to humans, however their tunnels and nests can cause major structural damage to homes and businesses.

Two carpenter ants fighting each other.

Where do carpenter ants live?

Carpenter Ants build their nests inside wood. They carve out galleries, which are areas they chewed out with their mandibles, and they prefer dead damp wood. They hollow out sections of trees and are known to infest wooden buildings and structures.

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Carpenter ant galleries are different from termite-damaged areas in that they are smooth, whereas termites pack mud into their hollowed-out areas. Once they enter a building, carpenter ants can tunnel through anywhere made of wood, including under floors or behind walls.

Carpenter ant on a wooden surface.

Why do I have a carpenter ant problem?

While they usually nest outside, carpenter ants are often attracted to houses and other buildings due to the fact that they provide easy access to food and shelter. They can enter through any open spaces, such as those around windows and doors.

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They enter living spaces to forage for food and search for water. Most often they find the food they are looking for in kitchens and pantries, and the water they need in bathrooms and basements. They are originally attracted to and tunnel through wood that is damaged by water and mold, but they may go on to build tunnels through wood that is dry and otherwise undamaged.

Carpenter ant on a leaf.

When are carpenter ants active?

On the Eastern side of the United States, carpenter ants are most active between May and August. Unlike many other insects, carpenter ants do not die during the winter. Instead, the colonies become dormant when colder temperatures arrive. If their nests are warm enough, however, colonies will not remain dormant.

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Depending on the location of the nest, this may be caused by mild outdoor temperatures or the use of indoor heating mechanisms such as wood stoves and furnaces. In some cases, a colony might skip the dormant phase completely.

Carpenter ant chewing wood on a wooden surface.

What’s the best way to prevent a carpenter ant infestation?

In order to prevent carpenter ants from entering a home or business, all cracks and crevices that may lead inside should be sealed and all decayed or water damaged wood should be replaced. You can avoid having water damaged wood by ensuring that all gutters are properly directing water away from the building, and by fixing leaky faucets, both indoors and outdoors.

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The use of dehumidifiers in generally moist areas, like basements, can reduce the amount of moisture that affects the wood in your home or business. Keeping trees, shrubs, and firewood piles away from the outside walls of buildings will eliminate easy access points for carpenter ants. To get rid of carpenter ants on your property call EXCEL today and have one of our carpenter ant control experts visit you.

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