Carpenter Ants - More Common Than You Think

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ants are the number one nuisance pest in the U.S., but none are more damaging and costly than the carpenter ant. With its penchant for nesting inside homes and compromising structural stability, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) advises homeowners to be on the lookout for these summer visitors.

Carpenter ants are most common in cool, damp climates found in the northern U.S. They damage wood by creating tunnels to build nests. Carpenter ants primarily attack wood that is or has been wet and damaged by mold, but will also nest inside dry, undamaged wood. There are nine types of carpenter ants throughout the U.S., usually measuring ¼ to ½ inch in length and are red, black or red and black in color.

"The extent of damage caused by carpenter ants depends on the number of nests inside the structure and how long they've been active. Once homeowners confirm the presence of carpenter ants, it's important to find and eliminate nests immediately," said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA.

Carpenter ant nests are usually found in wood that has been damaged as a result of leaks, such as window and doorframes, crawlspaces under roofs, chimneys, sinks and bathtubs. Typically, there are no external signs of damage, but homeowners may notice wood fragments and sawdust that fall through cracks the ants have created.

NPMA advises homeowners to practice these steps to help prevent infestations:

  • Eliminate sources of moisture, as carpenter ants require water to survive.
  • Seal cracks and crevices around the house.
  • Trim tree branches and plants back from the house.
  • Avoid having mulch up against the foundation, but rather nine inches back from the house with a stone barrier in between.
  • Keep firewood stacked away from structures.
  • Schedule regular inspections with a qualified pest professional if prone to ants.

For more information on carpenter ants or to find a pest professional, visit: www.pestworld.org.

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.

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