The warm temperatures and beautiful sunshine have many Missouri residents excited and ready to go out and enjoy the summer. While many families are headed outside, one particular pest may be marching inside. June is peak season for carpenter ants, and while these pests may be small, they can cause extreme damage to your home. These insects are unique from other species of ants in appearance and behavior. Some telling characteristics will help homeowners determine whether or not they have a carpenter ant problem. These ants can be elusive and not easily detected, or be confused with other bugs.
Carpenter Ant Appearance
Carpenter Ants are one of the largest of all known species of ants. Male swarmers and queens will measure even larger. Colors range in black, brown, red, yellow, or orange. If you have black ants and judge from the black color alone, you may believe that you just have extra large black pavement ants. However, a major difference between carpenter and pavement ants is that carpenter ants tend to be 5 times the length of pavement ants. Carpenter ants also have a single node between their thorax and abdomen. Other important characteristics to look for are:
- Elbowed antennae
- Six legs
- Pinched waist
- Front pair of wings longer than the back pair
Carpenter Ant Behavior
Carpenter Ants do things a little differently than other invasive species. Reproduction and building nests are what Carpenter Ants do best, but how they accomplish this is what turns out to be their key identifiers. When carpenter ants come into the home in the early damage stage, you may not notice them right away. It’s usually when they start building a nest that their presence starts to become more noticeable. Carpenter ants prefer soft, moist wood to burrow their nests in. This is why homes with water damage tend to be most vulnerable to these ants. Unlike termites, a bug commonly confused with Carpenter Ants, carpenter ants don’t actually eat the wood, they chew through it to create tunnels for themselves to burrow through and build a nest for their colony. The damage caused by carpenter ants also tends to take place over a longer period of time, in comparison to termites.
Signs of Carpenter Ants
Unfortunately, it is difficult to identify a carpenter ant infestation in the early stages of damage before they have started to build a nest. It isn’t until they have started to nest that they begin to leave telltale signs that the homeowner does have a carpenter ant problem. One of the earliest signs you can identify is worker carpenter ants searching for food inside your home once the nest has been built. Another well-known sign of carpenter ants is the presence of a substance called “frass,” if you see little piles of sawdust-like wood shavings in your home, carpenter ants are likely to be the culprit.
Hearing rustling inside of your walls or other hollow structures can also be a sign of nesting carpenter ants. If the wood sounds hollow when you tap it, this could also indicate a carpenter ant problem. Because the swarmer ants shed their wings after they mate, another sign you may see are the shed wings around your house. Common places worth checking are window sills, baseboards, and air vents.
What to do After Ant Removal
Once the carpenter ants have been removed, it is important that homeowners seal cracks, remove tree stumps, and fix water damage or moisture problems to prevent more infestations. However, even with these preventative measures taken, homeowners should still be on the lookout for any familiar signs that may happen later on.
If you suspect your home may be invaded by carpenter ants, you can contact us by filling out the contact form on our website.