While carpenter ants do not eat wood for food, they do nest in wood. They build galleries by cutting tunnels through soft wood, attracted by rotting or decaying wood. As their colony grows, they must cut through more wood to make room for a larger population. Because of this, they are classified as wood destroying insects and considered a major threat to homes and businesses.
You should hopefully all know by now that inbreeding in the animal kingdom often yields less than desirable results in offspring. Well, the same rule applies to insects. When it comes time to mate and reproduce, even insects must leave their homes in search of a suitable partner. Each kind of insect does this in their own way and here we'd like to show you how carpenter ants accomplish this feat, what to look for, and how to protect yourself and your property.
Swarming Carpenter Ants
- Once a colony reaches a certain size, they begin to produce “winged” males and females capable of reproduction. You can see one with wings in this picture.
- When conditions are right and typically after a rain storm, usually February to March in Texas, these winged ants will take a coordinated flight in search of a mate.
If a mate is found, the new queen carpenter ant will search out a proper place for a new colony, remove her wings, and begin laying her first round of eggs.
Signs of Infestation
- Live Carpenter Ants
- Carpenter ants are some of the largest ants, and have a variety of species and colors.
- Workers can be 1/2 inch and the queens can be up to 3/4 inch long.
- Go to our Pest Identification page for examples of carpenter ants and how to spot them.
- Carpenter Ant Evidence
- Piles of sawdust or “frass” will appear under openings into their nest where they remove any loose particles and also dispose of their dead bodies and other waste.
- It’s pretty gross to come across a huge pile of ant carcasses and other bug parts in a dark corner of a room you don’t go into very often!
- Conducive Conditions
- Moisture damaged wood or limbs touching your house make it easier for carpenter ants to get started.
How to Protect Yourself
- Trim back all tree limbs and shrubs touching your home, and closely monitor power lines that are contacting your structure.
- Replace any rotten or decaying wood.
- Eliminate sources of high moisture.
- Have your house inspected for wood destroying insects (i.e. carpenter ants & termites) by a pest management professional at least once per year.
If an infestation is present, a carpenter ant control treatment may be necessary to eliminate the colony and prevent future outbreaks. Correcting a few simple problems could make the difference in keeping them out of your home or business.