Throughout the Southern states, Formosan subterranean termites and Asian subterranean termites are incredibly destructive to properties. Those voracious creatures can completely wipe out the saving of a homeowner when they eat a home from the inside out. In New York, Connecticut, and even Massachusetts, the Eastern subterranean termite is a common property-damaging pest. This species of termite even does a little damage to homes in Southern Maine. But, for the most part, termites aren't a serious problem for Mainers. However, we have a pest that can give those termites a run for their money. It is called the carpenter ant; the North's version of termites.
Carpenter Ants Share Many Traits with Termites
Here are a few to take note of:
- Are you familiar with termite swarmers? They are termite alates that take to the air in spring and establish new nests. Carpenter ants do the same thing. While carpenter ants don't have wings, they do produce winged carpenter ants for the purpose of establishing new colonies.
- Are you aware that termites prefer soft or rotting wood? Carpenter ants do as well. When carpenter ants explore the foundation perimeter of a home, they will chew their way into old, rotting wood first. But, unlike termites, they won't stop at eating softwood. Carpenter ants are known to chew on harder wood as they expand their galleries.
- Do you know that termites are drawn to moisture? So are carpenter ants. Damp ground and moist wood will lure both of these pests to a home. If you have a gutter system that has debris in it, you could have a very damp foundation perimeter that is attractive to wood-damaging pests.
- Do you know that termites eat wood? While carpenter ants don't, that doesn't mean they aren't as destructive. The larger a colony is the more need there is for galleries. But, you may wonder, "Won't those carpenter ants need food and won't I see them when they start to get into my pantry or kitchen food packages?" Sadly, carpenter ants can find more food options outside of your home. One food source that is usually plentiful is honeydew created by aphids, scales, and other insects. If you have vegetation in your landscaping, it is likely that you have a food source for carpenter ants. They don't have to eat the food inside your home and alert you to their presence.
- Do you know that termites can damage the structures of a home? As termites feed on wood, it weakens the wood. This can put stress on other timbers and cause bending and warping to occur. Carpenter ants can do the same. The galleries created by carpenter ants are hard to distinguish from termites'. They look similar in appearance and are nearly as extensive.
- Do you see the picture? Carpenter ants are an important wood-destroying organism in Southern Maine. The only reason they don't do as much damage as Eastern subterranean termites do in more southern states is that they push sawdust out of their tunnels. When sawdust is seen, many homeowners realize that they have a problem and get it quickly addressed. Fast response to wood-destroying pests is the secret to preventing catastrophic damage. But carpenter ants don't always push sawdust out where you can see it. They may push it into a cellar or basement. They may push it into a room where you store firewood. They may push it into a room that is used for carpenter projects. Often, it is pushed into wall voids because carpenter ants prefer to be active in darkness. If you fail to see this sawdust, you could be in trouble.
Another sign carpenter ants give is often misunderstood. If you see carpenter ant swarmers crawling around on the outside of your Southern Maine home, this is not likely a sign of an impending infestation. It is more likely a sign of a current, active and mature infestation. This infestation may already be inside your home or it could be in an exterior structure, stump, log, tree, etc.
If you see signs of carpenter ants, reach out to Big Blue Bug Solutions immediately. We know how to track these destructive insects down and, more importantly, what is necessary to eliminate them.