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It is bad to find evidence of carpenter ants in your home. It is even worse to discover black carpenter ants in your home; they are the most destructive carpenter ants in South Portland. But how bad is it to find carpenter ants in your yard? Do you know how to identify these ants in your yard? Join us today as we look at the most important facts every resident should know about these wood-damaging pests. We'll tell you how to identify carpenter ants and their warning signs, why these ants cause more trouble than other ant pests, and what works best to prevent problems with carpenter ants. You may find that you don't have to worry quite so much about finding carpenter ants on your property if you understand why they're on your property in the first place. If you've found these ants indoors, jump to our contact page for carpenter ant pest control in South Portland. We can help you sort things out and protect your property. 

How To Tell If It's Carpenter Ants In Your Home

Step one is to figure out if you actually have carpenter ants. Whether inside or outdoors, it is good to know how to identify ants. All ants are not created equal, and carpenter ants are a particular issue in South Portland where long winters and damp spring weather create the perfect conditions for these ants to thrive. Here are a few facts to help you identify black carpenter ants and rule out other ant species.

  • Black carpenter ants are entirely black. If you see ant workers that are some other color, including dark brown, you're not looking at black carpenter ants.

  • Black carpenter ants are big. Workers range from ¼ to ½ an inch long. It is rare to see any black ant that is this large unless you're looking at a reproductive ant that has shed its wings. Reproductive ants from other South Portland ant species approach ¼ of an inch in length. But keep in mind that reproductive ants don't stay topside for long. They want to get busy starting new nests.

  • Black carpenter ants have major and minor workers. If you see worker ants and there are two distinct sizes of ants, they're probably carpenter ants.

  • Black carpenter ants have one node between the thorax and abdomen. While they're not the only ants with one node, you can use this fact to rule out ants with two nodes. 

  • Black carpenter ants are mostly nocturnal. When you see ants crawling around during the day, they're not likely carpenter ants. But some colonies are active during the day if daytime activity is essential. Keep this in mind. They can fool you.

  • Carpenter ants often create kickout holes. These are tiny holes the size of a pencil tip. They use these holes to push material out of their tunnels. Look for these holes in window and door frames, baseboards, and exterior wood materials. 

There are two more ways you can tell carpenter ants from other ant species. We'll cover them in the next section as we look at how these wood-damaging pests are more problematic than other pest ants in our area.       

Why Carpenter Ants Are More Problematic Than Other Ants

If you don't know, carpenter ants got their name because (like a carpenter) they produce sawdust. But unlike a carpenter, they won't repair your back deck; they'll destroy it. While other ants can get into your trash, pick up harmful microorganisms, and spread them around, carpenter ants can do this and damage your home as well, making them more problematic than other ants. The good news is that you can use frass to help you track carpenter ant activity and to tell if your home has been damaged. You can also look for wood damage and evaluate the damage to determine if carpenter ants are to blame.

Frass: When you see frass, it is evidence that you have carpenter ants in your home. While certainly a helpful warning sign, it isn't a great way to find out that you have a carpenter ant problem because frass is an indication that these ants have excavated wood from your home. The good news is that they don't work quickly. It takes years for carpenter ants to do significant damage. Routine inspections around your home, particularly in crawl spaces and underneath exterior structures, can help you detect trouble early and stop these ants. 

Damage: Many things can damage wood. How can you know that carpenter ants are causing the damage you're finding on your home? Sometimes you can't. But, if you closely examine damaged areas and see smooth tunnels just under the surface of the wood, you have yourself some carpenter ant damage. You can use this damage to track where carpenters are targeting your home. But even if you don't see noticeable damage, you'll likely uncover carpenter ant damage if you examine areas where wood touches the soil; for example, a wood skirt around your home, wood fencing, or the posts of your back deck. Clear soil away near the base of these structures and you may find carpenter ants crawling around or exposed tunnels that look like trenches. If you see mud structures, or exposed tunnels feel gritty, that is termite damage, not carpenter ant damage.

Detection is the first piece in the ant pest control puzzle. It helps to know where ants are active on your property so that you can target the areas or apply exclusions to prevent ants from gaining access to your home. Moisture points are common access points for all ants. They're drawn to damp or humid environments and often get into homes through gaps around pipes. Your utilities are a good place to check first for carpenter ant activity. Seal gaps to keep those ants out.    

What Attracts Carpenter Ants To A Yard?

It is often a challenge to detect carpenter ant activity because they hide in darkness, are active at night, and hide inside wood. Plus, the frass they produce is sometimes kicked out inside structural voids where it is hidden from view. So, along with inspecting your property and detecting ant activity and carpenter ant damage, it is critical to know how to deter ants even when you don't see them. The secret is understanding what attracts carpenter ants to your yard. Let's break it down.

Sweets: Most carpenter ants have a sweet tooth. They feed on nectar and honeydew primarily. They'll also joyfully collect the sweet liquid from a hummingbird feeder. You can deter carpenter ants from targeting your home if you control sweet food sources. Manage lawn weeds, deter aphids, and move hummingbird feeders away from your exterior walls.

Wood: Since carpenter ants like to tunnel in wood and create nests inside, wood sources in your yard can attract them. Before they enter your home, they may infest a stump, log, or firewood pile. Prevent carpenter ant activity by removing these potential sources of harborage.

Moisture: When you have a moisture problem, wood rot can result. Maintaining clear gutters and repairing gutter breaks are your first line of defense. Working gutters prevent the oversaturation of soil next to your home. When your perimeter soil isn't oversaturated, rainwater can soak into the ground after it rains, leaving your perimeter dry. A damp perimeter is unhealthy for the wood of your home and promotes wood-damaging pest activity.

When you find carpenter ants in your yard, but your home is healthy and free of rotted areas, you may have little to fear from carpenter ants. Trouble often starts when wood rot begins, or when conditions promote carpenter ant problems. What conditions? Storing wood next to your home or inside your home can invite a carpenter ant problem. We recommend keeping wood on an elevated platform away from your exterior and burning wood soon after it is brought into the house.    

Contact The Professionals For Total Carpenter Ant Elimination

It may make you nervous when you find carpenter ant activity on your property, and even more nervous if you find carpenter ants inside your home. We understand. Even though they damage property slowly, over time, and there are ways to detect carpenter ant activity around your home, it is disturbing to think that they can damage your home right under your nose. If you'd like to have a licensed and experienced pest control technician evaluate your ant problem and offer suggestions for an ant control solution, reach out to Big Blue Bug Solutions. When you need ant pest control services near you, we're the right company to call. Big Blue Bug Solutions has been providing pest control solutions since 1935. For over 80 years, we've strived to learn and grow and we've earned a reputation for providing effective pest control solutions that are sustainable, eco-friendly, and proactive. Would you like to learn more or schedule a service visit? We'd love the opportunity to speak with you. 

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