If you understand the structural damage to a home that carpenter ants can cause, you may be wondering “Do I have carpenter ants?” It’s a wise question to ask because treating carpenter ants early in an infestation can lessen damage, while untreated colonies of carpenter ants can inflict serious damage.
To answer “Do I have carpenter ants?” look for these six signs.
1. Piles of sawdust-like material under wood. Carpenter ants don’t digest wood as termites do. Rather, they burrow into it because they like to nest in it, and they are attracted to the soft, moist wood of homes. As they tunnel their way through the wood, they leave behind a substance known as frass, which looks like sawdust.
2. Carpenter ants you can see. Visible carpenter ants are obviously a sign of possible infestation, and you may think the “Do I have carpenter ants?” question is answered if you spot them. However, carpenter ants travel far from their nests as they forage for food, so the ones you see could be from nests outside the home.
3. Crackling noises. If you’re near a nest, you can sometimes hear a crackling sound from the ants’ activities. (A typical colony has thousands of ants.)
4. Rustling noises inside woodwork or walls. This sound is from the ants moving about in their burrowed nests. A stethoscope or empty glass can help you hear these faint noises.
5. Wood that sounds hollow. With a opposite end of a screw deive (the soft part), gently tap on walls, joists, rafters, and other wood to check for this sound.
6. Winged carpenter ants. This is a sure sign of a colony—and likely satellite colonies. The winged ants are the colony members that reproduce. If you see these “swarmers,” you have a problem.
If You See the Signs, Take Action
If caught early and treated by professional pest-control specialists, carpenter ants can usually be eliminated before your home suffers significant damage. And even if the ants have done some harm, immediate eradication will stop the destruction. It’s definitely not a situation to ignore.