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Your Quick Guide to Carpenter Ants & the Damage They Cause

If you live in the northeastern United States, you undoubtedly know about the hazards of having a subterranean termite infestation on your property. However, these termites have a lesser-known rival that can also damage your home: carpenter ants.

Keep reading to learn essential information about these wood-destroying ants, including:

  • what attracts carpenter ants to homes
  • how to know if carpenter ants have damaged your home

Carpenter Ant Behavior

Carpenter ants are known as wood-destroying insects—however, they don’t actually consume wood. Whereas termites gain nutrients from the cellulose in wood, carpenter ants tunnel into wood to make their nests. The ants’ tunnels are so smooth and neat that you might mistake the damage for some erratic drillwork.

Like other types of ants, carpenter ants look for food sources that will provide them with sugar or protein. They’ll eat a number of different indoor and outdoor substances, such as:

  • Plant honeydew
  • Living and dead insects
  • Pet food
  • Meats
  • Sweets

When it comes to nest-building, carpenter ants typically will seek out wood that’s soft or rotting. However, once the ants start tunneling, they can move on to firmer timbers in a home, including its framework and support beams.

Carpenter Ant Physical Characteristics

Carpenter ants look somewhat like a larger version of a standard black ant you might find in your kitchen or backyard. They have two antennae and six legs, and they measure about ½ to ⅝ of an inch in length. They tend to be dark red, brown, or black and may also be a combination of black and red.

What Attracts Carpenter Ants to Homes

Numerous factors can attract carpenter ants to your home. If you have a lush garden, this will provide a lot of aphids and scale bugs for the ants to eat. Carpenter ants might also invade your home if you leave food unsealed or dirty dishes in the sink.

Areas for nesting will also be very attractive to carpenter ants. They’ll be drawn to damp, rotting wood because it will be easy to burrow inside. You can avoid water-damaged wood by keeping your gutters clean and ensuring that your home is free of any drainage issues around its foundation.

Signs of Carpenter Ant Damage

Carpenter ant damage can be easily missed if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Because the damage occurs inside wood, you’ll need to look for tiny holes on the outside that might be entrances to carpenter ant tunnels.

Below these holes, you might also see accumulations of material the ants have discarded from the tunnels. These little piles might contain insect remains and chewed-up pieces of wood and insulation that will look like sawdust.

If you see signs of a carpenter ant infestation, don’t wait to contact our pest professionals at Hoffman's Exterminating Co., Inc. to prevent significant damage to your property: (800) 615-3920.