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Inspecting For

Carpenter Ants


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Some Common Signs of Carpenter Ant Infestations

  • Frass, which is made up of wood shavings, bits of soil, dead ants and parts of insects.  This material is often piled up outside of nest openings and found in spider webs and window sills.

  • Small windows or slit-like openings that carpenter ants cut into infested wood.   These windows are actually "garbage chutes" which are used to dispose of frass or unwanted materials.

  • Swarmers are the winged reproductives that take flight in the spring.  Look for them trapped in spider webs, on window ledges or in light fixtures.

  • Worker carpenter ants are active mostly at night, so you may not see any activity during normal working hours.  Even if you do, it does not mean that the nest is nearby.  Worker ants can travel up to the length of a football field booking food.

  • Clicking or rustling sounds can sometimes be heard coming from carpenter ant nests.  If you identify a potential nest site, try tapping against it with a screwdriver.  You may hear a response -- the clicking of alarmed ants.  The use of a stethoscope makes listening easy.

  • Wood damaged by carpenter ants contains galleries that are very clean and smooth.


    The first sign of a carpenter ant infestation is usually the sighting of numerous workers throughout the home.  However, the presence of workers alone is not conclusive evidence that a colony is established within a structure.  Carpenter ant workers tend to roam far and wide looking for food, and some transient workers are sure to enter any home located in a wooded area.  Signs of an active infestation include the presence of fibrous sawdust beneath slit-like openings in wood members and faint, rustling noises in walls and woodwork.  A positive indication that an active, mature infestation is present is the emergence of large winged ants from walls, ceilings, or crawl spaces.
    Carpenter ant galleries in wood have smooth surfaces and can be differentiated from subterranean termite damage by the absence of "mud" in the galleries.  Ants normally excavate wood that has been softened by decay or other insects, however, they will tunnel into sound wood when conditions are favorable.   Nests and galleries may be located a considerable distance from the point or points of entry.  In addition to structural lumber, sites such as hollow-core doors, window headers, wall voids, and foam panels are particularly attractive to carpenter ants.
    Carpenter ants often enter homes through openings such as foundation or attic vents, cracks, plumbing holes, entrances for telephone and electric wires, etc.  One thing to look for during an inspection are tree branches that may be just above or in contact with the roof.  Firewood piles are prime nesting sites and should be treated with an appropriately labeled pesticide such as Advance Carpenter Ant Bait, Niban-FG bait,   Demon WP or Cynoff.  Niban and Advance are baits that are scattered around piles of wood, Demon WP and Cynoff  are excellent pesticides used for immediate kill and long term control of carpenter ants and many other insect pests. If damage to fire wood is extensive, simply dispose of the wood.

For more information about carpenter ants and their control, go to our Carpenter Ant Article.

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