How Can I Get Rid of Carpenter Ants?

Up close look at a carpenter ant on a piece of wood. Pioneer Pest Management, serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA talks about how to get rid of carpenter ants.

As one of the most common wood-destroying insects, carpenter ants are well known for their capability for widespread destruction. They can tunnel out support beams, collapse wall supports, and destroy a house from the inside out. Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t eat wood–they remove it from their tunnels. Carpenter ants also nest within these tunnels.

What Do Carpenter Ants Look Like?

 

There are over 1,000 species of carpenter ants. Larger in size than most ants in the Pacific Northwest, queen carpenter ants can range from 16-18 millimeters long, while worker ants range from 6-13 millimeters long. While many carpenter ants are black in appearance, they can also be red or brown in color. Carpenter ants can be highly destructive to structural wood beams and other areas, like woodpiles, furniture, or sheds.

Indications that You Have Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants don’t eat wood like termites, but instead, create tunnels called “galleries”, and the sawdust-like material (called frass) left from their destruction can be a key indicator of carpenter ant activity. Look for these signs to see if you have a carpenter ant problem:

  • Piles of sawdust-like material
  • “Kickout” holes, from where carpenter ants have kicked out sawdust
  • Discarded wings around door frames, window frames, etc.
  • Flying carpenter ants inside the house

If you see any of these signs, call a professional exterminator who has experience with carpenter ants. It’s impossible to tell how far the colony has spread, or where they might be within the walls, without careful inspection. The faster you find the issue, the faster you can eliminate the problem and minimize damage.

Treating for Carpenter Ants

Inspection is the first and major step towards getting rid of carpenter ants. An exterminator who is familiar with carpenter ants is your best bet for getting a thorough and comprehensive investigation. Carpenter ants engage in “budding” behaviors: they will establish a single nest, build it to capacity, and then send out new queens to establish satellite nests. This is a huge problem, because once they begin to spread, it gets more and more difficult to find each and every one of the nests.

After inspection and confirmed carpenter ant nest discovery, there are steps that you should take immediately:

  • Fix all leaks, so they can’t dampen wood
  • Remove all damp wood
  • Seal all potential entrances into the walls or home.
  • Commit to inspecting the exterior of your home four times a year. Professional inspections are a great way to make sure you’re protected.

Complete elimination may be more complicated. Once carpenter ants are within your home’s walls, professionals will need to remove them. Fully removing carpenter ants takes time, as all nests will have to be identified.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

If you’ve taken steps to prevent carpenter ants and you still have them in your home, contact Pioneer Pest Management. We use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to get rid of your pest issues, using our knowledge of their habits and behavior to eliminate them completely. You don’t need to battle carpenter ants alone–give us a call today!

Get Rid of Carpenter Ants Before They Damage Your Home

Pioneer Pest Management provides exceptional carpenter ant control and extermination in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.Carpenter ants are almost as well known as their wood-destroying counterpart, termites. Like termites, carpenter ants can and will remove wood from a building’s wooden structure. But unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t eat the wood they chew through! This is the crucial difference that can help identify a carpenter ant infestation.

Carpenter ants can cause intense amounts of damage.

Why do carpenter ants chew through wood, anyway?

These ants chew smooth tunnels and “rooms” in wood for nesting and shelter. While carpenter ants prefer decaying wood, they will also nest in man-made materials, like foam insulation boards.

Carpenter ants have to travel outside of their tunnels for food sources, which include both protein and sugary substances. Outdoors, they prefer to eat dead and live insects, as well as “honeydew” from aphids (the sugar substances aphids excrete). Indoors, carpenter ants will scavenge for protein sources, including food crumbs and pet food.

If you have a carpenter ant infestation, you may be able to catch them in their hunt for food. Look for trails of ants going outside, especially around utility openings, door frames, windowsills, and any cracks in external walls.

Carpenter Ant Prevention Tips for Homeowners

The best way to avoid having a carpenter ant problem is simple: prevention! We recommend a variety of prevention techniques, and all of them also work to prevent other pests, too!

1. Inspect your home to spot an ant problem before it begins.

By having your home regularly inspected, the potential beginning of a carpenter ant infestation can be stopped before it spirals.

  • Inspect the exterior of your home for any cracks or gaps in walls.
  • Look for decaying wood or sources of leaking water, both inside and outside.
  • Damp wood is the first place carpenter ants will go to begin an infestation.

2. Modify your landscaping to discourage carpenter ants.

  • While carpenter ants won’t typically choose to live in mulch, it can conceal activity or hide a temporary nest.
    • Choose inorganic mulch if possible, or choose large chunks of wood–not fine.
    • Keep mulch away from the house, and limit it to three inches thick.
  • Trim back any shrubs or vegetation from the foundation to allow airflow.
    • Sometimes plants can conceal or even encourage damp conditions, especially along the foundation walls, the siding of your home, or near crawlspaces.
  • Examine your deck or porch for damp wood.
    • If a nest is established, this colony may expand into your home.
    • Keep any stacked wood or old logs away from your home.

3. Water sources need to be carefully controlled to prevent carpenter ants.

  • Outside:
    • Limit or eliminate water collecting plants.
    • Remove all standing water sources, like old tires, tarps, or flower pots.
    • Limit items like old stumps and old railroad ties in your yard, but especially in shady areas, where they might not dry out entirely.
    • Eliminating any decaying wood from your yard is a great way to cut down on carpenter ant risk.
  • Inside:
    • Fix leaks immediately, whether in the plumbing or in a roof, and properly dry any wood affected by the leak.
    • Eliminate dampness in bathrooms and kitchens by controlling humidity.
    • If your basement floods, install a sump pump and a de-humidifier to eliminate any lingering water.

4. Use exclusion practices to further prevent pest issues.

  • Your home should be properly sealed against water damage and weather–and against pests.
  • Seal any foundation cracks.
  • Continually restore caulking, especially around doors, windows, and siding. Use weatherstripping around doors and windows.
  • Seal or close off utility pipes and entrances.

Use professional pest control resources to further eliminate carpenter ants.

If you see piles of sawdust, small holes in your walls or window sills, trails of larger black ants, or flying ants inside your home, you should call a professional immediately. You may have a carpenter ant or other pest infestation, and the sooner you treat the problem, the less damage you’ll have as a result. Pioneer Pest Management uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to get rid of carpenter ants, using our knowledge of their habits and behavior to eliminate them completely. You don’t need to fight carpenter ants alone–give us a call today!

Why Do I Have Carpenter Ants in My Home?

Why Do I Have Carpenter Ants in My Home? Pioneer Pest Management answers common questions about carpenter ants, and how to prevent them in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.Carpenter ants are known for the damage they can inflict on wooden structure. Like termites, carpenter ants can destroy a house from the inside out. But unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t actually ingest the wood they are removing from a structure! So what attracts carpenter ants, if it’s not food?\

Carpenter ants seek wood as shelter. They will nest in anything that is made of dead wood, including old tree trunks or living trees with patches of decay. The decay is key: carpenter ants almost always start with damp or dead wood, working their way inward from there.

Carpenter ants will also nest in certain man-made materials, including the foam insulation boards that are sometimes used in crawlspaces and attics.

Warnings Signs of a Carpenter Ant Infestation

Carpenter ants can be tricky to spot, but there are some tell-tale signs:

  • Sawdust piles beneath wooden structures.
  • Small holes in wooden structures, known as “kickout” holes, where carpenter ants have kicked out sawdust produced by their tunneling.
  • Discarded wings.
  • A rustling behind walls.
  • Flying carpenter ants inside the house.
  • More than ten carpenter ants seen inside your home at one time.

If you see any of these signs, look for the other indications that carpenter ants are tunneling through your home. The faster you find the issue, the faster you can eliminate the problem and minimize damage.

Preventing Carpenter Ants

The best way to avoid having a carpenter ant problem is simple: prevention! We recommend a variety of prevention techniques, but here are the basic considerations:

  • Inspection:
    • This is the first step in any prevention plan.
    • By having your home regularly inspected, the potential beginning of a carpenter ant infestation can be stopped before it spirals.
    • Inspect your home for the presence of ants, but also inspect the exterior for any situations that could encourage carpenter ants, like damp or decaying wood.
  • Mulch:
    • Keep mulch away from the house.
    • Lay mulch less than 3 inches thick.
    • Choose a mulch with large chunks, not fine particles that could trap moisture or conceal ant activity.
    • Choose inorganic mulch (rocks, shells, etc) if possible.
    • While carpenter ants won’t typically choose to live in mulch, it can conceal activity or hide a temporary nest.
  • Water:
    • Limit or eliminate water collecting plants.
    • Remove all standing water sources.
    • Be strategic with shade, so your landscape can dry out and not collect water.
    • Make sure your home doesn’t have any leaks, either within the roof, the walls, or within the plumbing system.
  • Exclusion:
    • Your home should be properly sealed against the elements–and against pests.
    • Make sure any foundation cracks are sealed. Make sure caulking around doors, windows, and siding is intact, and that your doors and windows have weatherstripping properly installed as well.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants Professionally

If you’ve taken steps to prevent carpenter ants and you still have them in your home, contact Pioneer Pest Management. We use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to get rid of your pest issues, using our knowledge of their habits and behavior to eliminate them completely. You don’t need to battle carpenter ants alone–give us a call today!

Signs of a Carpenter Ant Infestation

Signs You May Have a Carpenter Ant Infestationcarpenter ants exterminators pest control portland oregon vancouver washington

Because of their habit of nesting in houses, carpenter ants are a concern to homeowners and like termites, carpenter ant infestations can be especially dangerous for a homeowner. One nest can cause extensive damage before you even realize you have a problem. Spotting the signs early and receiving a proper carpenter ant treatment can help minimize the damage and keep recovery costs to a minimum.

Spotting Medium to Large Ants

Live carpenter ants are often the first sign of infestation. They’re typically larger than other ants, but carpenter ants can be small. They range in size from 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch long. They’ll travel quite a ways from their original nest in search of food. During spring, you may spot winged adults looking for mates. They never fly too far from their nest, so pay attention to where you spot them.

Carpenter Ant Frass

signs you have a carpenter ant infestation
Carpenter Ant Frass

Contrary to popular belief, carpenter ants don’t eat wood, they nest in wood. When a major infestation sets in, you may start seeing little piles of what looks like sawdust coming from wood items and structures. This sawdust is called “frass” and is a good indicator you are dealing with carpenter ants and not termites. Frass is created when carpenter ants use their mandibles to excavate tunnels in wood to nest in. The most common places to spot frass are near windows, skylights, doors, and baseboards of walls and in the corners of rooms.

Ant Trails

They follow foraging trails along corners, wires, pipes and logs to food sources beloved by all ants. You may spot them following set trails in your kitchen to unsealed sweets, pet food containers and spills of sweet syrups like honey and jam.

Rustling Noises

Colonies moving inside their nests produce a distinct sound. Some people describe it as a vague “rustling” while others think it sounds like crinkling cellophane. It may come from walls voids, ceilings or other hollows within your home. Tap sharply on any area you think may have a carpenter ant infestation and listen for the sound with your ear to the wall.

Carpenter Ant Nests

Carpenter ant infestations begin with one nest but can quickly spread. During the carpenter ant removal process, it may be necessary to hunt for satellite nests both inside and outside. Look for nests in hollow areas, like inside walls and doors.

The ants are partial to water damaged and decaying wood. Windowsills and the areas beneath them are good candidates, as are neglected exterior wood piles and buildings like sheds. Ivy-covered chimneys are another common nesting ground.

Professional carpenter ant elimination utilizes identifying nest location and specialized treatments using baits and specialized residual materials to take care of your unwelcome house guests. Schedule an inspection at the first hints of infestation to protect your home and family.

Pictures of Carpenter Ant Damage

Ants are out and about in Portland & Vancouver

Ants coming out in homes across Portland & Vancouver

If you’re like many homeowners in Portland and Vancouver you’ve noticed that the warmer weather is bringing the ants out of hibernation and has them in search for food.  We here at Pioneer Pest Management have been fielding a lot of phone calls about these nuisance pests and thought we would post this article to help our customers understand what type of ants they’re dealing with, as well as what our ant extermination services consist of.

What type of ants are in your home?

This is probably the single most asked question we get.  Right now it seems the Odorous House Ant and Carpenter Ants are the most common.  However, here is in the Portland Oregon and Vancouver Washington areas we have several different species of ants that are active.  Below we have listed out the common ones we are seeing now, with pictures to help you identify what you’re up against.

Odorous House Ants

Color: Brown or blackOdorous House Ant Removal and Exterminators - Vancouver Camas Longview Portland OR WA
Size: 1/16-1/8-inch long
Feed on: Drawn primarily to sweets, especially melon
Nests: make their homes in exposed soil and wall cracks.
Identifying Characteristic: a strong, rotten coconut or licorice like smell when crushed.

Odorous house ants are very common here in Portland and Vancouver.  Often these ants make their nests outdoors under bark dust, under wood piles, or under large stones.  Body characteristics: small smooth body with very few hairs.  These type of ants are attracted to sweets such as sugar and soda pop, hence their nickname Sugar Ants.  Odorous ants typically are found outside, but can move into homes where they are attracted to wall voids, under cabinets or carpeting or other interior locations.

Pioneer Pest Management uses a two step process when sealing with odorous house ants.  Interior baiting as well as exterior spraying.  Our method of odorous ant extermination is safe for children and pets and we guarantee this service for 45 days.

Carpenter Ants

odorous house ant sugar ant exterminators Portland WA Vancouver Longview Washington

Color: Varies depending on species, from red to black, but the most common in the Washington / Oregon areas are black.
Size: one of the largest ants, adults can be up to 1 inch long. some species are as small as 3/8 inch, and are often confused with other small ants
Feed on: a wide variety of foods, primarily sweets and proteins, including honeydew, honey, bread, meats, nuts, tuna, as well as other insects. Preference can vary by season and the needs of the colony.
Nests: in wet, decayed, or damaged wood of outdoor tree stumps, logs, firewood, or landscaping wood. They will also tunnel through the wood of structures for their nests.
Identifying Characteristic: winged swarmers; small piles of coarse sawdust or wood shavings around openings where ants have been excavating their nests; and/or sound – active colonies often making a dry, rustling sound that gets louder if disturbed.

Need help deciding if you have moisture ants or carpenter ants?  Read this article on Moisture Ants or Carpenter Ants

The number one important step in eliminating a carpenter ant infestation is locating all nesting areas inside your home. Don’t make the mistake of thinking there is only one nest as many times there can be several nests, even in the same general area. A thorough check of your home inside and out, paying particular attention to any wood that is moisture damaged or decaying can help in finding the starting point of an infestation. Tapping wood suspected of being compromised by carpenter ants and listening for rustling noises is another way to identify nesting areas. The use of a stethoscope or a glass cup up to your ear can help in listening for movement in the wood. Hollow sounding wood is another give away of potential issues.

Completing a search around your homes yard can point to original nesting sites in dead or decaying trees, wood piles or outdoor structures. Treating these nests can help prevent re-infestation.  Most homeowners will seek the help of an experienced carpenter ant specialist like Pioneer Pest Management to ensure these wood destroying ants are completely removed from their home.

Moisture Ants

Color: yellow to dark browncarpenter ant exterminators in Portland Longview and Vancouver WA Washington
Size: about 1/8 inch long
Feed on: sweets, often entering homes to feed on sugary foods
Nests: make nests in water damaged, decaying wood, where they can accelerate decay and weaken structures
Identifying Characteristic: notched back on the ant and nesting signs of cardboard-like tunneling in moist wood and sawdust under entry/exit points

These ants are ecological indicators of a moisture problem. To eliminate them only requires changing the environment (eliminating moisture). Chemical control is rarely advised unless they are nesting near or under the house and begin to be a nuisance. If this is the case, then chemical control may become necessary. There are a number of products on the market that homeowners can obtain to treat the nest site.

If you cannot find the nest or if it is located in an inaccessible place (such as a narrow crawl space), you may wish to consult with a pest management professional. Finally, once the moisture ants have been safely removed, the rotted wood must be replaced to ensure there is no re-infestation in the future.

These ants are ecological indicators of a moisture problem. To eliminate them only requires changing the environment (eliminating moisture). Chemical control is rarely advised unless they are nesting near or under the house and begin to be a nuisance. If this is the case, then chemical control may become necessary. There are a number of products on the market that homeowners can obtain to treat the nest site.

If you cannot find the nest or if it is located in an inaccessible place (such as a narrow crawl space), you may wish to consult with a pest management professional.

Finally, once the moisture ants have been safely removed, the rotted wood must be replaced to ensure there is no re-infestation in the future.

– See more at: https://pioneerpest.com/moisture-ants-identify-removal/#sthash.3USiXWrG.dpuf

These ants are ecological indicators of a moisture problem. To eliminate them only requires changing the environment (eliminating moisture). Chemical control is rarely advised unless they are nesting near or under the house and begin to be a nuisance. If this is the case, then chemical control may become necessary. There are a number of products on the market that homeowners can obtain to treat the nest site.

If you cannot find the nest or if it is located in an inaccessible place (such as a narrow crawl space), you may wish to consult with a pest management professional.

Finally, once the moisture ants have been safely removed, the rotted wood must be replaced to ensure there is no re-infestation in the future.

– See more at: https://pioneerpest.com/moisture-ants-identify-removal/#sthash.3USiXWrG.dpuf

Guaranteed Ant Extermination

Portland OR and Vancouver WA

Pioneer Pest Management has served the ant extermination needs of our customers in Portland and Vancouver for 13 years.  We are thoroughly experienced when it comes to dealing with ant infestations and can recommend a course of action to deal with your ant problem quickly and efficiently.  Pioneer Pest Management is recognized by the EPA as a Gold Level Integrated Pest Management recognized company, so you can rest assured that our methods are safe for the environment, children and pets.

Call us today for a free estimate on ridding you of your ant problem.

Identifying a Carpenter Ant Infestation

carpenter ant removal extermination infestations ortland oregon vancouver washingtonTell-Tale Signs of a Carpenter Ant Infestation – Signs and What to Do

Carpenter ants are large black or brown ants that can cause serious damage to a home’s wooden structure if allowed to thrive. Often the winged carpenter ant is mistaken for termites, which is also a serious problem here in the northwest.

The Warning Signs of a Carpenter Ant Infestation – What to look for

Carpenter ants love to nest in dead or decaying wood. Wood that has been damaged by water is a special favorite here in Oregon and Washington for these ants. Sometimes carpenter ants will move into the structural wood of a home from a nearby nest. It’s a given that carpenter ants can cause serious damage to a home’s structure, but if you know what to look for there’s plenty of time to control the infestation in a proper manner and save your home from expensive problems.

Winged carpenter ants generally emerge from their nesting sites in the spring or early summer months. They can often be seen outside homes and in yards searching for new nesting sites. Seeing winged carpenter ants outside your home is no reason for alarm, if you begin finding them inside your homes during these months, you may have a carpenter ant infestation and should seek professional help quickly as this can be a sign of a 3 to 4 year old (or longer) infestation.

Another tell-tale sign of a carpenter ant infestation is the year around presence of wingless carpenter ants. They can often be found searching for food as they prefer animal and vegetable food sources. If you only find these ants at specific times of the year, the nest is probably located outdoors, near your home. It is important to trace these ants back to their nest, remove the dead or rotting wood and treat the nesting area to prevent them from moving into your home. Here in Oregon and Washington our abundance of trees and our generally wet climate make for a great combination for plentiful nesting sites for these ants.

Other warning signs that you may have a carpenter ant infestation include small piles of sawdust looking material in random areas of your home. Crawl spaces, corners, and dark areas are common places to find these piles of dust. In heavy infestations, you may even hear faint rustling noises in your walls.

Controlling and Eliminating a Carpenter Ant Infestation

The number one important step in eliminating a carpenter ant infestation is locating all nesting areas inside your home. Don’t make the mistake of thinking there is only one nest as many times there can be several nests, even in the same general area. A thorough check of your home inside and out, paying particular attention to any wood that is moisture damaged or decaying can help in finding the starting point of an infestation. Tapping wood suspected of being compromised by carpenter ants and listening for rustling noises is another way to identify nesting areas. The use of a stethoscope or a glass cup up to your ear can help in listening for movement in the wood. Hollow sounding wood is another give away of potential issues.

Completing a search around your homes yard can point to original nesting sites in dead or decaying trees, wood piles or outdoor structures. Treating these nests can help prevent re-infestation.

Preventing Carpenter Ant Infestations

Preventing carpenter ant infestations is the best defense in making sure your home doesn’t become victim to these common pests. Below we have listed a few common home fixes to prevent these ants from taking up residence in your home.

  • Trim plants, trees and shrubs away from your home.
  • If your home has water damaged or decaying wood, get it replaced.
  • Fix any moisture problems in and outside of your home. Leaky roofs, gaps in siding, clogged or damaged gutters and plumbing problems are common areas to check.
  • Remove any dead, or diseased trees from around your home. It’s usually a good idea to have a 60 foot radius of dead free trees and branches.
  • Firewood and other wood piles should be stored away from your home.
  • Maintain continuous protection around your home through our Home Defense Program.