Protect Your Home from the Destruction of Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants are the most commonly encountered wood destroying insects in the Northwest. They are responsible for damage to thousands of homes each year. The damage can be limited to a fence post or it can be extensive, costing tens of thousands of dollars to repair one house. Therefore, it is important to protect homes and other structures from these destructive pests and Cascade can help you.
Importantly, carpenter ants only rarely traverse through the interior of a structure. Unfortunately, maybe people think they don’t have a problem because they don’t see the ants inside—but carpenter ants nest in wall voids and other structural framing and forage outdoors for food. This leaves many people with a false sense of security, thinking they have no problem but the carpenter ants continue to thrive within the walls and farming causing destruction over time.
Achieving carpenter ant control requires an understanding of their biology and what to look for. A quick review tells us:
- There can be as many as 70,000 ants in a carpenter ant colony and they divide their population among numerous nest sites that can be located as far as 300 feet apart.
- Carpenter ants are rarely seen indoors so their absence inside a home means nothing about their presence within the structural framing.
An effective carpenter ant management service goes after any nests and sets up an ongoing barrier to keep other nests of the colony—or whole other colonies—from establishing themselves in the structure.
Cascade’s Carpenter Ant Inspect and Protect Program
Cascade’s Inspect and Protect program begins with an initial service which concentrates on the house structure, its perimeter and nearby grounds where carpenter ants may nest or forage for food. This service varies significantly depending upon whether an infestation is already fully present.
When one or more nests of carpenter ants are already in and/or around the home the service includes some combination of injection of certain structural framing voids (such as within walls and between ceilings and floors), treatment of attic spaces, substructure crawlspaces, the exterior perimeter of the house, outside grounds (including nearby trees, stumps, and landscape timbers) and sometimes indoors. The plumbing walls and other key locations of the structure are often important to treat preventatively.
The periodic service is extremely important as a barrier must be maintained between the structure and other nests or whole other carpenter ants colonies. This service is designed to:
- “Contain” any ants which may be, or remain, deep within the structure where initial treatment doesn’t reach. The periodic “follow-up” service creates a barrier that ants cannot safely cross to obtain necessary food and water outside.
- If you already had carpenter ants it protects the structure from re-infestation from “outside” nest sites of the same colony. These ants would otherwise be free to return within a couple of months when the initial service treatment breaks down.
- Provide professional periodic inspection of the premises for carpenter ants (and other pest organisms as well) leaving little to “chance.” Every Cascade technician is experienced, trained and licensed in carpenter ant biology and control.
- Service during the colder months is important and reserved for inspection and treatment of attics, substructure crawlspaces and between floor voids.
- Provide complimentary coverage for other pests, such as:
- Rats & Mice – Spiders – Wasps – Earwigs
- Ground Beetles – Sow Bugs – Millipedes – Centipedes
You can trust Cascade to provide the best protection for your home. Carpenter Ant control and prevention is one of our specialties. Contact us today and give your home the protection it deserves.
Carpenter Ant Damage
Damage from carpenter ants is most often hidden within walls and other framing of a home so it’s difficult to find. And since carpenter ants seldom come indoors into the living space or workspace of a structure, they often go undetected for years.
Close up of damage to house framing.
Carpenter ants have an ability and preference to nest in wood. They don’t ingest or digest the wood like termites, they merely ‘chew’ or tear the wood to excavate nest sites. In forests such nesting is beneficial as it helps return dead wood to soil. Unfortunately, they view a wood framed home as nothing more than a uniquely arranged woodpile.
A colony may number up to 70,000 ants. One aspect of carpenter ants that makes them extremely challenging to control is the fact that they divide their population amongst various nest sites; as many as 12 nest sites have been located for one carpenter ant colony alone! The ants of the colony communicate with one another throughout their network of nests. Since the nests of one colony can be as far as 300 feet apart from one another, some colonies are spread over a sizeable portion of a neighborhood!
One of the nests contains an egg-laying queen that continually repopulates the entire colony. This “parent” nest site is always located in wood with a high moisture content. As a result it is often found in stumps, logs or within old trees.
In contrast, the “satellite” nests do not contain queens and may be located in dry, sound wood. These are typically the nests found infesting homes. One or more nests can be located anywhere within the structural framing including the walls, floors, crawlspaces, and attics, as well as within insulation and roofing materials. Since the “parent” nest is outside, merely “killing a nest” within the house structure seldom solves the problem.
What to Look for in Your Home
Although carpenter ants destroy wood by excavating nests they do not ‘eat’ the wood. ‘Worker ants’ exit their nest and forage on shrubs and trees for their food. They eat other insects and grubs, and ‘milk’ aphids for a sugary liquid known as “honeydew.” Most foraging occurs at night, however, it is their limited daytime activity that is most noticeable to us.
Carpenter ants actually take care of aphids in order to “milk” them for a sugary substance, “honeydew”. Here they are on a fir tree.
An obvious “red alert” is the presence of carpenter ants indoors. But this is very rare. Since carpenter ant workers almost never wander indoors such indoor activity would indicate an infestation somewhere in the house framing. Also, it should be noted that spraying these indoor ants with a consumer bug spray will not control the nest or the damage that’s going on. It will only disrupt the behavior of ants showing up in your living space and may give you a false sense of security.
Carpenter ants on roof eave next to gutter. This shows how easily they can get to homes from trees and shrubs without most of us ever knowing!
However, carpenter ant problems are rarely made obvious by indoor activity and often go unnoticed by homeowners for years. It is best to look for them outside near the home – and better yet, to have Cascade inspect and treat preventatively. The reason we can often find some indication of what’s going on within a structure by carpenter ant activity outside is that they have to leave their nests within the structure to forage for food on trees and shrubs. Such outdoor activity – while often sparse during the day – may be on the ground, decks and patios, fences which touch the house, tree branches which touch the roof, or near tree trunks in the yard. Occasionally they are even found traveling along the wires which run from the roof to a utility pole. As you can see they can sometimes be hard to detect.
Finding the sawdust-like “frass” produced by the ants is dramatic, and an extremely obvious sign of a very close nest. Unfortunately, this is uncommon because they usually deposit the frass within wall voids and other locations where it is hidden from human view.
Carpenter ants frass (wood shavings) from landscape timber.
This exterior nest supported other nests in the home structure.