Does My Yard Have A Carpenter Ant Problem?
Nests are usually established in soft, moist (not wet), decayed wood, but occasionally they nest in existing wood cavities or void areas in a structure that are perfectly dry. Workers cut galleries in the wood, expanding the nest size for the enlarging colony. Galleries are irregular, usually excavated with the wood grain into softer portions of the wood. The walls of the nest are smooth and clean (appearing as if sandpapered), and shredded sawdust-like wood fragments are carried from the nest and deposited outside. These piles of wood fragments, clues to the presence of carpenter ants, are often found beneath special slit-like openings or nest entrances. The sawdust may contain potions of insects, empty seed coats, and other small particles of debris.
In Trees - Having carpenter ants in a tree generally indicates that there already was decaying wood in that tree for some reason. The Carpenter ants seldom start working in a tree that is sound and healthy. Quite often the ants will make conspicuous trails on the lawn or soil in passing to and from their nest. Some workers will go as far as 100 yards from the nest seeking food.
In Firewood - Carpenter ants can move into a pile of firewood or even be brought on to your property in the firewood when it is delivered. Store firewood away from the house and if possible store it elevated above the ground somehow.
In the Home - If you suspect carpenter ant damage in your home you can distinguish between termite damage and ant damage. Termites leave “mud” or dirt in the galleries or tunnels and avoid hard woods. Carpenter ants keep their galleries clean and attack both soft and hard woods. If you do spot some wood destruction you need to call in a professional pest control company immediately.
Hire A Professional Or Do It Yourself?
Whether you spot a carpenter ant problem in a tree on your property on in some part of your house, it is generally smarter to get professional help. Getting rid of the ants in a tree may be within a homeowner’s ability, but repairing the damage on the tree almost always requires the skills of a professional arborist. Make sure when you hire anybody to work on a tree that he or she is a “certified arborist”; that is the key to reliable and competent service.
In our opinion, if you spot carpenter ants in the house, then we recommend a professional pest control service every time. The stakes are too high in terms of potential expensive damage to a home’s structure. Remember when hiring a professional pest control company that they should be presenting the least toxic and comprehensive program to solve this problem. They need to be able to show you how they will eliminate the access and the source of the problem as well as the ants using the least toxic chemicals that will do an effective job. Avoid companies wanting to do a complete house fumigation and companies wanting to sell you a “monthly maintenance treatment” program – neither approach is needed in most carpenter ant problems. Good companies will offer a 1 to 3 year warranty on their work.