How Concerned Should I Be About Carpenter Ants?

carpenter ants chewing tunnels in wood in south carolina

Most of us know what a carpenter ant is. We understand that they can chew tunnels in our walls and that they are not nearly as much of a threat as termites. While this is correct, it is not nearly complete. There is a lot that most people don't know about carpenter ants. We hope to lay the facts out for you in this article. It is up to you to decide how concerned you should be.

Some people shrug when they see a carpenter ant here and there. No big deal, right? If there were a lot of ants in your walls, eating away at the structure of your home, you'd know it, right? They'd be in your cabinets eating your food. They'd be on your counters searching for crumbs. They'd be climbing all over your dirty dishes, searching for morsels to bring back to their nest. 

 

Actually, none of this is true. The number of ants you see walking around your house does not correlate to how big your infestation is.

  • Carpenter ants can find food outside. They don't need to raid your home to find a bite to eat.
  • Usually, the ants we see walking around our homes are scout ants. Only a small portion of ants scout for food. Those scouts are often squished before they return to tell their coworkers that a suitable food source is available.
  • Carpenter ants are mostly nocturnal in nature. So, you are not likely to see a large group of carpenter ants feeding on a food source.

Some people shrug when they see a carpenter ant walking around because they don't think carpenter ants do much damage. After all, they don't eat wood, they just tunnel through it. This leads to a perception that there are a few isolated tunnels running through sound pieces of wood, when nothing could be further from the truth. Carpenter ants dig tunnel upon tunnel upon tunnel, and are able to do as much damage as termites when left to their work. They also carve out galleries in wood. These are pockets of space where nests are established.

Some people shrug when they see a carpenter ant because they assume they will see lots of sawdust if there is a large infestation. While it is true that carpenter ants must push sawdust out of kickout holes, these exit holes are often established in hard-to-see places such as crawl spaces under a home, underneath a porch, deck, or patio, or behind a stairwell. Kickout holes could also push sawdust into an area that has sawdust, like a wall behind a wood pile or a room where construction or carpentry is done. Carpenter ant sawdust (also called frass) is sometimes mistaken for dirt, dust, or sand.

Some people think carpenter ants only damage wood that is rotting. While they are certainly attracted to rotting wood, they are not limited to only damaging wood that has been softened by water damage. They can damage any wood they establish a nest in. It is, however, important to note that softened wood can be damaged faster than sound wood.

Termites cost U.S. property owners billions of dollars in repairs every single year. The damage caused by carpenter ants is in the hundreds of millions. But, there are cases where carpenter ants have done more damage than termites on a house to house basis. Just because termites do more damage on a national scale, doesn't mean they do less damage in each individual case.

So, there you have it. Those are the facts. It is up to you to decide whether or not carpenter ants are cause for concern. If you decide that you'd rather not let these wood-destroying pests live inside your walls, we'd be happy to help you make your property ant-free.

Spencer Pest Services is a QualityPro and GreenPro certified pest company and an Angie's List Super Service Award winner. Find out why more and more home and business owners in Upstate South Carolina are turning to Spencer Pest Services for protection from destructive wood-destroying pests, illness-spreading pests, and general nuisance pests. Reach out to us today for immediate assistance.