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What are carpenter ants?

If you’re like most folks, learning that you have a carpenter ant infestation is cause for alarm. However, while your concern is justified and you need to rid yourself of the infestation, we do want to remove any confusion from the situation that you might have. 

What do we mean? Well, it’s not unusual for carpenter ants to be confused with termites. These two creatures are entirely different insects, and though they do appear similar, the manner in which they live and the damage they cause are quite different. 

One important difference is that termites consume wood for nourishment, whereas carpenter ants burrow through wood in an effort to make a nest or a series of nests for their colonies. 

Once a termite colony has found a source of food, it will continue to consume that wood for as long as it is getting what it needs to survive and thrive. Carpenter ants aren’t capable of digesting cellulose, a primary component of wood and other plant fibers. In fact, the diet of carpenter ants primarily consists of small insects, juice from fruit and plants, as well as an aphid-derived secretion known as “honeydew.” Luckily for residents of Ridgefield, termites are actually not common to the area.

What type of carpenter ants are in Ridgefield?

Out of the approximately twenty four different types of carpenter ant species that are found in the United States, the most common in Ridgefield and the Pacific Northwest region is the black carpenter ant. 

Though they look like most other ants you’ll see, there are a few defining characteristics that can help you identify them as carpenter ants. They are black with a slight reddish hue, and will most commonly measure to about a half-inch in length, with their size varying depending on their role in the colony. Some may have wings but not all. 

Like many other social insects, their colonies include a few specific types of ants with equally specific roles. In a carpenter ant colony, you’ll find queens, males, workers (females), and ant larvae. Queens, of course, are in charge of the colony, and are primarily responsible for laying eggs, but also provide direction to the workers and males. Carpenter ant colonies can consist of several queens, with one primary queen overseeing the direction of the entire colony via pheromone-driven chemical signals. 

These creatures can be very territorial, so a carpenter ant colony often consists of several smaller colonies connected by a series of tunnels. The areas in which the ants reside are called galleries.

Worker ants are responsible for creating these tunnels and galleries, in addition to other responsibilities such as gathering and distributing food to the rest of the colony. 

Males, as is the case with many other social insects, mate with the queen and then die shortly after fulfilling their sole duty as members of the colony. 

How do I identify a carpenter ant infestation?

Dead or decaying wood, fallen trees, water damaged areas of the home, and areas like unmanaged wood piles are the most common and desirable places for carpenter ants to establish a colony. 

If you suspect that you might have a carpenter ant infestation, take a close look in order to identify the areas where the infestation is happening. When looking at the wood of the assumed infestation site, do you see a series of small holes that have what looks like a very fine sawdust outside of them? If so, then you might have a carpenter ant infestation on your hands. You should call for professional assistance to be sure you’re correctly identifying the issue and that it’s being dealt with properly.

Should you wait, then the colony will continue to grow. Though these creatures don’t typically do the same level of structural damage as a termite colony would, they still possess the potential to cause damage if left unchecked.

Can carpenter ants enter my home?

As we mentioned earlier, carpenter ants prefer wood that is dead or rotting, as it possesses the conditions that are more friendly to their colony growth. Usually — usually — this means that carpenter ants are found outside of the home vs. inside. However, if you have an already established colony outside and your home contains water damage, wood rot, and other ant-appealing conditions, then it is very possible that ants will make their way inside. 

Take a look around your home at areas where water drainage commonly occurs. Pay close attention to the gutters, eaves, the foundation outside the house, as well as areas inside the house like under sinks, bathrooms, kitchens, and utility rooms, or other places where moisture is present or water damage may have accumulated. Sometimes, even without water damage, the ants can make their way inside in search of food, water and shelter.

Should I seek professional assistance for carpenter ants?

If you want the most thorough examination of your home and property possible, then we recommend seeking professional assistance. While there are DIY or off-the-shelf methods for managing carpenter ant infestations, they simply cannot match the effectiveness of an Aspen Pest Control technician’s ability to examine, recommend, and apply treatment. 

What’s the difference? Well, besides having pest control experts who are committed to providing you the results you’re really looking for, we also administer a more effective product. Consumer grade products are simply no match for commercial grade extermination services. 

Most spray repellents can help you rid your property of the ants you can see, but what about the ones you can’t? What about the heart of the colony? Aspen uses child- and pet-friendly baits and products that exterminate the pests you can see, and, more importantly, the ones you can’t.  

If you’re concerned about a potential carpenter ant infestation, then we invite you to consider Aspen Pest Control. Our team of carpenter ant technicians are licensed, bonded, insured, local, and thoroughly trained to listen to your concerns, examine and identify your trouble areas, and all while providing you with hassle-free recommendations designed to give you the peace of mind you deserve. 

Contact Aspen Pest Control TODAY to rid your life of carpenter ants!