We typically associate ants with warm weather; crawling along the picnic table at the barbecue, or scrounging for crumbs along your kitchen counter. However, carpenter ants can remain active through the winter months, possibly damaging your home!

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What Are Carpenter Ants?

Carpenter ants are a species of ant that excavates wood in order to build nests, resulting in smooth tunnels inside the wood. They prefer damp, damaged, or decayed wood, and produce a crackling sound that can usually be heard close to large nets. Carpenter ants are often large, ranging in size from one quarter to three quarters of an inch, and can be black, red, or a combination of both.

Unlike termites, who are actually nourished by the wood they consume, carpenter ants simply bore through wood in order to build nests. This leaves behind piles of sawdust, or frass. Like termites, however, carpenter ants can cause serious structural damage to your home.

What Happens to Carpenter Ants in Winter?

Like many other pests, these ants don’t die off in the winter, but usually go dormant when temperatures drop. Outdoors, they establish colonies in damp, rotting wood, and this provides enough insulation for them to survive the winter in their dormant state.

If carpenter ants have gotten indoors, however, your heated home might be providing the perfect conditions for them to remain active all year.

How Can I Tell If I Have Carpenter Ants?

A common way to identify a carpenter ant problem in the winter is by finding the frass they leave behind. This will look like pieces of sawdust, or pencil shavings, but if you look closely you’ll see fragments of dead ants. You also might hear a faint rustling sound within the walls of infested wood, and the wood will sound hollow when tapped upon.

Winter can be a popular time for indoor projects at home. What you think is ant frass might just be regular old sawdust. Don’t forget to look for parts of dead ants.

How Can I Prevent Carpenter Ants?

  • Eliminate sources of moisture, such as standing water and leaky pipes
  • Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house, and thoroughly check any firewood you bring inside– they might hitch a ride!
  • Keep gutters clear so water doesn’t run down the sides of the house.
  • Make sure there are no cracks or small openings along the foundation of your house.

I Think I Have Carpenter Ants? What Can I Do?

Your best bet might be to give your pest control professional a call. It is not enough to simply dispose of any ants you see, as the nests will continue to grow, even creating satellite nests! The only sure way is to locate and destroy all of the nests.

If you think you have carpenter ants, don’t hesitate to give Graduate a call.

Got an urgent pest problem? Email Sheena.