Usually when you see a few ants, you put out a few ant traps, clean up the food that may be attracting them, and go on with your day. But this approach may not be sufficient if the ants you're dealing with are carpenter ants. This particular variety of ant can be quite destructive, building nests inside your home's wooden structures and eventually leading to serious damage.
So, how do you know if the ants you're seeing are carpenter ants, and what should you do about them? Read on to find out.
Identifying Carpenter Ants
Luckily, distinguishing between carpenter ants and other common types of ants like pavement and Argentine ants is pretty easy. Carpenter ants are about 5/8 inch long, whereas other ants are much smaller. Their bodies have three segments, and the color varies between species. Many species are black or dark brown, but occasionally you may see a red carpenter ant.
Dealing With Carpenter Ants
If you see a single or few carpenter ants in your home, especially if they are in the kitchen or another area where food is to be found, do not panic. The presence of a few ants does not mean they have built a nest in your home yet. Outside, carpenter ants build nests in decaying trees and logs. There could simply be a nearby outdoor nest, and the ants you're seeing could be "scouts" sent out in search of food.
For the best luck dealing with carpenter ants, follow these steps. Step 1: Trap and Kill the Possible Scout Ants
Start by operating under the assumption that the ants are just scouts from a nearby colony. Take the precautions you would with any ant. Purchase a few ant traps, and follow the instructions on the package to set them up safely. Then, do the best you can to keep your kitchen clean of food scraps, and place all of your food in tightly sealed containers.
Step 2: Look for Signs of a Nest
Next, you need to look over the wooden structures in your home to check whether or not the ants are coming from indoors. Focus especially on any wood that may be moist, such as exposed beams in the basement, window frames, and door frames. If you see circular galleries on the wood's surface, this is a sign of carpenter ant infestation.
You'll also see sawdust on the ground near the area where the nest has been built. (Carpenter ants don't eat the wood; they just burrow into it to build nests.)
Step 3: Treat the Nest, If Needed
With any luck, you'll follow step 1, eliminate the scout ants, and see no evidence of a carpenter ant nest in your house. But if you do find signs of a nest, you'll need to take further action immediately before the ants compromise the strength and integrity of your wood structure.
Call a pest control company to eliminate the nest. They can safely apply pesticides to the affected areas and use special equipment to apply these treatments behind walls and in crevices, helping to eradicate the ants completely.
Step 4: Make Repairs
Once your pest control company is confident they have gotten rid of the ants, you can work on repairing the wood damage. If you caught the infestation early, the damage may be so mild that you can just sand and paint the damaged area, camouflaging the marks. After larger infestations, you may have to have the affected pieces of wood replaced.
If you are seeing carpenter ant scouts but are confident there is not a nest in your home, make sure you take steps to keep the ants from building a
nest inside. Keep your wooden structures dry by using a dehumidifier, repairing leaks, and closing the windows when it starts to rain. If you notice an increasing number of carpenter ants, there is a chance you have a nest inside and just have not found it. Contact Bio-Lab Pest & Termite Control to come take a look.