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live carpenter ant

Big as they are, carpenter ants are sneaky and rarely seen up close. Unfortunately, you can’t simply ignore these pests and cross your fingers that they’ll eventually go away. Rather, the opposite is true. If given the proper time, space, and materials, these ants can cause a big amount of damage. Indeed, carpenter ants boast the title of some of the largest ants in the United States. Typically they range from 3.4 to 13mm long and are black in color, but sometimes we see red or yellow color variations. Then again, it can be hard to notice these ants at all! Here’s why:


If given enough time, these pests can create extensive damage. But, contrary to popular belief, these ants do not eat wood. Rather, as they create tunnels and space for their nests inside wood, they remove wood as they go. The wood they remove with their strong jaws is called frass and is dropped into piles that are often described as “looking like sawdust.” A long-standing carpenter ant colony can easily weaken your structural foundation by hollowing out building lumber and window frame and sill wood. It has been reported by some insurance companies that carpenter ants do as much structural damage each year as natural disasters. Out in nature, carpenter ants tend to take up residence in stumps and rotting logs. However, when inside, they prefer to create their nests in spaces where the wood has been exposed to high levels of moisture. At times, the nests they construct can house several thousand ants and can consist of an extensive network of galleries and tunnels that go largely unseen.


What, then, are signs of a carpenter ant infestation in your home? Because of their behavior, the excavation process is typically a dead giveaway of a carpenter ant infestation.  According to University of Minnesota Extension Entomologists Jeffrey Hahn and Stephen Kells, other signs that indicate an active nest is nearby include small piles of coarse sawdust or wood shavings, or consistent indoor sightings of large numbers of worker ants, i.e. 20 or more. Also, large numbers of winged ants indoors is evidence of an indoor nest; carpenter ants swarm from late winter through spring.


Any and all preventative measures ought to be taken to curb the impact these pests can have on your home. The first method of resistance is the elimination of high moisture conditions — replace any and all moisture-damaged or water-logged wood. Second, minimize the carpenter ants’ means of attack. Keep firewood piles far away from your home and trim branches and shrubs that are close to or touching your home. Then, seal off locations for potential entry, such as where utility lines enter your home. Execute these preventative measures and you will reduce the potential for a carpenter ant infestation. Unfortunately, eliminating a carpenter ant colony that has already developed is no easy task—not to mention a frustrating way to spend your Saturday afternoon. If you are unable to locate the nest or are struggling to eliminate the pests, call in an expert like your friends at Plunkett’s Pest Control. Do-it-yourself carpenter ant treatments are not usually effective and may only eradicate carpenter ants that are foraging on your property—not the entire nest. Contact Plunkett’s Pest Control as soon as you spot them to prevent a larger carpenter ant infestation. Don’t let these pests ruin your summer plans! Call us today to request a quote or talk to one of our employees and schedule an appointment.


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