Carpenter ants can cause the same damage to homes as termites, by eating away at any wood they can find. They can cause serious structural damage to your home; therefore, if you suspect your home may have termites or carpenter ants, you should immediately address the problem. Carpenter ants are almost an inch long and are black in color. They differ in appearance from termites by having a narrower waist, a very dark-colored body and bent-looking antennae. Carpenter ants live in rotting trees, logs and any damp areas near wood that they can find. If you have seen carpenter ants in your home then chances are it is due to having some damp wood in your home. Damp wood can be from rotten siding, damaged or rotting roof shingles or leaky plumbing. The best way to prevent carpenter ants from entering your home is to maintain your home in order to prevent leaks and moisture.
How They Work
Carpenter ants don't actually eat wood. They excavate wood to create tunnels and galleries to provide passageways for movement to and from their nest. Carpenter ants build their nests and live in wood, so chewing away at the wood simply makes room for their nests. They swarm mostly in the spring and can frequently be seen outdoors before they make their way indoors. Swarmer carpenter ants have wings and you'll notice them mostly near tree stumps. They can also survive for months without eating, so once they are around your property, they can potentially stay around for a long while.
How to Eliminate Carpenter Ants from Your Home
The best way to prevent carpenter ants is to prevent and eliminate moisture in your home as mentioned above. Additional steps to take to eliminate excessive moisture in your home is to check the humidifier of your furnace and a/c to make sure it is set properly. You could also purchase a dehumidifier to keep in your basement, which will further decrease moisture. Removing dead tree stumps and general lawn maintenance will also help prevent carpenter ants. The less interested they are in your lawn, the less interested they'll be in entering your home. Placing white gravel around your home is another way to prevent carpenter ants. Many homeowners have reported seeing carpenter ants actually crawl away from white gravel. It is hot and dry and they are so uninterested that they look for another source of interest. It's simply too hard and complicated for them to get across the gravel. Find a landscaper to help place white gravel around your home and yard.
How to Detect & Get Rid if Carpenter Ants
You can detect carpenter ants by:
- Looking for piles of sawdust throughout your home. Sawdust trails are a common indicator of a carpenter ant problem in your home.
- Listening for crunching or crinkling noises. Listen closely to the floor or the frame of your house to see if you hear any ants working on the wood. It's best to do this when there is minimal noise, such as at night.
For large-scale carpenter ant problems, contact an exterminator who is trained in carpenter ant extermination. If you have a smaller carpenter ant problem, then there are several ways you can try to get rid of them on your own.
- For extremes case, you may need to replace the foundation of your home. If you have hundreds of winged carpenter ants surfacing from the basement, then there is probably a large nest of them in the foundation of your house. In this case, you have to replace the foundation of your house after exterminating all the ants and having a professional exterminator make an inspection. Carpenter ants can make hundreds of holes in the foundation of your home, making it dangerous and structurally unfit.
- Boric Acid - Placing boric acid around your home will help in that it acts as an insecticide and kills the ants. Mix three tablespoons of boric acid in a cup of warm water, and add half a cup of sugar to attract the ants. Put the solution in a dish and place it near the ants' nest. You can also soak cotton balls in it, and then place them around the nest for the ants to feed on (Source: howtogetridofstuff.com).
- Baiting - Baiting works well for carpenter ant problems on the outside. In the area where you suspect the nest, place a sweet bait. As the ants start coming out, spray them with an insecticide spray. The next step is to pour lots of boiling water over the area. This works well for nests that are not very deep in a tree stump or log.