Carpenter ants require a water source to survive. To prevent brown, red or black carpenter ants in the house, eliminate sources of moisture or standing water. Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home. Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of doors or around windows. Seal all openings with a silicone-based caulk. Also, keep firewood and building materials stored away from the home. Carpenter ants like to build nests in stacks of wood.
If an infestation is suspected and you need to know how to get rid of carpenter ants, it’s always best to contact a licensed pest control professional who can assess the situation and recommend a method of carpenter ant extermination.
Carpenter ants get their name from their nest building, where they will excavate the wood and form smooth tunnels inside of the wood. Carpenter ants do not eat wood, they only tunnel and chew through wood to create nests.
The western black carpenter ant colony, when mature, contains about 10-20,000 workers, with large colonies of more than 50,000 individuals. There is usually only one functional, wingless queen per colony. Swarmers are not produced until the colony is more than two years old. They are produced in the previous year and held over the winter in the nest for release the following year. Swarmers appear from May until August in the eastern United States and from February through June in the west.
Carpenter ants vary in size and can be anywhere from ½” to ⅝” long. While black carpenter ants are common, these pests may be a combination of black and red, or completely black, red or brown.
The only external sign of a carpenter ant infestation other than the presence of workers and/or swarmers is the appearance of small openings on the surface of wood. Through these, the ants expel debris, which consists of sawdust-like shavings and/or fragments of insulation and insect body parts. The accumulation of this debris below the holes is a good indication of an active infestation. The gallery walls that carpenter ants create are smooth, with a sand-papered appearance. Active galleries are kept clean of debris.
Carpenter ants prefer to attack wood softened by fungus and are often associated with moisture problems, so homeowners should keep an eye out for excess moisture and soft, rotting wood around the home.