If You've Seen One You've Seen 'Em All?

May 29, 2018

carpenter ant in water damaged wood

Most of us have the heard the saying: "If You've Seen One You've Seen 'Em All," at least once in our lives. And we know what it means. For instance, if you have been to one big mall, you have, basically, experienced all big malls, because all big malls are basically the same. But if you were to use this saying in regards to carpenter ants, you would be dead wrong. One big black carpenter ant in your kitchen could mean you have hundreds, or even thousands, living just out of sight inside your walls. So, "You've seen one you seen 'em all," would not only be untrue, it could cause you a whole lot of headache that could have been avoided if you knew the facts about carpenter ants.

Today, we are going to focus on knowing what carpenter ant damage looks like, the signs these little wood-destroyers leave behind, and the difference between carpenter ant damage and termite damage. But first, let's talk about what a carpenter ant looks like.

Carpenter Ant Identification

These ants are the largest ants you will see inside your home. They measure at around ⅜ to ½ an inch in length. They are typically black but can have a reddish tint. And they have a single, pointed, node between their thorax and abdomen.

What Does Carpenter Ant Damage Look Like?

Carpenter ants usually carve tunnels and galleries inside wood but this damage may appear on the outside of wood, especially in moist, shaded areas around a home. These areas can be moistened by leaky gutters that allow water to run down exterior walls, a leaky spigot, a leaky hose, too much vegetation near your home, and similar things.

Other areas where carpenter ant damage may be found include around windows, chimneys, sinks, door frames or bath traps. But even if none of the places you can see have signs of carpenter ant damage, this doesn't mean there isn't any. There may be damage in hidden places, such as spaces protected from bad weather, extreme temperatures, and predators, such as in crawl spaces or inside wall voids.

Warning Signs Of A Carpenter Ant Infestation

Even if you never see carpenter ants crawling around, and never see the tiny holes they leave behind, you may notice some of the following signs.

  • Swarmers. These are large black ants with wings that briefly appear when a colony has matured and new colonies are about to be formed.
  • Shed wings. If a swarm has come and gone, you may see tiny shed wings on patios, on window sills, or perhaps in spider webs.
  • Frass. This sawdust-like substance may look like dust or dirt and can be found coming out of cracks in wood, or beneath tiny "kickout holes."
  • Slopey floors or ceilings. If damage to wooden structures is severe enough, the structure of a home will start to sag, making uneven surfaces and causing doors and windows to stick.

What's Eating Ya?

Sometimes it can be difficult for homeowners to tell what wood-destroying insect is infesting their home. Perhaps you have noticed wood outside that looks like it has been attacked by carving knives, or maybe it just has lots of tiny holes in it. Would that be indicative of carpenter ants, or perhaps termites? And if you are wondering, "What difference does it make?" let us reassure you that it does make a difference. While carpenter ants cost American home and business owners hundreds of millions per year, termite damage rings in at around $5 billion annually. Any time you see evidence of a wood-destroying pest, it is a good idea to contact a pest management professional but, some insects are more destructive than others.

It is important to bear in mind that, even if you determine that you definitely have carpenter ants, this does not rule out a termite infestation as well. It is possible to have both because both of these insects are attracted to similar conditions. The best way to know just exactly "what's eating ya," is to have a thorough inspection done by a certified pest control technician who knows just exactly what to look for, and where to look.

Modern Pest Control has over 60 years of experience helping customers become--and remain--pest free. Reach out to us today and schedule a FREE inspection. We'll determine if you have carpenter ants or termites, and walk you through all the options available to help you protect your property.

Tags: carpenter ants  |  signs of carpenter ants  |  damages caused by carpenter ants

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