How To: Protect Your Home from Carpenter Ants

Know the signs of carpenter ants and prevent an infestation.

Carpenter Ants

Photo: Flickr

Carpenter ants damage wood by hollowing it out for nesting. Unlike termites, wood damaged by carpenter ants does not contain mud-like debris. Instead, carpenter ant nests have a smooth, sandpapered appearance. Carpenter ants typically establish colonies in a moist environment, but will nest in dry wood. Moist areas around windows, leaky roofs and chimneys, bathtubs and sinks, and exterior areas that are in contact with soil are a prime breeding ground.

Control carpenter ants by destroying their nests, and eliminating conditions that encourage colonies to nest. Often, ants found inside the home may actually nest outdoors. Old stumps, untreated landscaping timber, and dead or dying trees are common nesting grounds. Before the ants move indoors as colonies expand, remove potential nesting areas near the house.

Routine household maintenance will go a long way in preventing carpenter ant infestation. Follow these tips to reduce the likelihood of infestation:

• Ants are attracted to moist wood. Repair roof and plumbing leaks, leaky chimney flashing, overflowing gutters, and all other water infiltration problems to avoid creating a tempting nesting area.

• Trim trees and bushes that touch a home’s roofing and siding. Ants nesting in dead branches use the limbs as a bridge to the house.

• Examine your foundation for cracks, and tightly seal openings where pipes and wires enter the house.

• Eliminate wood-to-soil contact, especially where landscaping comes in contact with the house. Use a non-organic if you suspect the area where you live has an infestation problem.

• Don’t store firewood directly on the ground. Instead, elevate it with a non-organic material (bricks work well). Don’t store firewood indoors, and always examine it before bringing it inside.