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Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are the Pacific Northwests' most destructive insect, causing millions of dollars in damages every year. An active mature colony can remove over 20 pounds of wood in one summer!

There are three types of carpenter ants within a mature colony:

  • Queens (female)
  • Workers (female)
  • Drones (male)

Carpenter ants have an incredibly long life span. Queens under optimal conditions can live up to 20 years, laying thousands and thousands of eggs during her life span. Worker ants can live up to 15 years.


Besides being objectionable by their presence, carpenter ants damage wood by hollowing it out for nesting purposes thus causing an unsafe condition. They do not eat the wood they hollow. They excavate galleries in wood which have a smooth, sandpapered appearance. Shredded fragments of wood (frass), similar in appearance to coarse sawdust, are ejected from the galleries through preexisting cracks or slits made by the ants. When such accumulations are found (typically containing dead ants and bits of insects which the carpenter ants have eaten), it is a good indication that a carpenter ant nest is nearby. Oftentimes however, the excavated sawdust remain hidden behind a wall or in some other concealed area. This makes detecting the colony challenging, a task better suited for a professional.

Carpenter ants prefer nesting in moist wood but will move to dry sound wood to expand their colony. Nests are more likely to be found in wood dampened by water leaks, poorly sealed windows and/or door frames, roof leaks and poorly flashed chimneys. Nests are especially common in crawl spaces between the subfloor and the subfloor's insulation.

Carpenter ants construct two different kinds of nests:

  • Parent Colonies which when mature, contain an egg-laying queen.
  • Satellite Colonies which may have large numbers of worker ants but no queen, eggs or young larvae.

The extent and potential damage to a home depends on how many nests are actually present within the structure, and how long the infestation has been active. Although large carpenter ant colonies are capable of causing structural damage, the damage is not normally as serious as that from termites. In some cases, the damage may be relatively insignificant, but this can only be determined by locating and exposing the nest area.

Carpenter Ant swarming season usually occur sometime between the months of June and July. Occasionally, swarms of winged carpenter ant reproductives will emerge inside a home indicating positive infestation within the structure.

Preventative Treatment & Control

Oftentimes there will be no external signs of damage, thus probing the wood with a screwdriver helps reveal the excavated galleries. Another technique for locating hidden nests is to tap along baseboards and other wood surfaces with the blunt end of a screwdriver while listening for a hollow sound of damaged wood. If a nest is nearby, carpenter ants often will respond by making a rustling sound within the nest, similar to the crinkling of cellophane.

A number of steps can be taken by homeowners to reduce the potential for future carpenter ant problems:

  1. Correct roof leaks, plumbing leaks and other moisture problems which will attract carpenter ants.
  2. Eliminate any earth to wood contact.
  3. Prune tree limbs and vegetation touching the roof or siding of your home. This is especially important if you have pine trees which host aphaids (the carpenter ants' main food source)
  4. Stack firewood away from the foundation of your home. Do not store firewood in the garage or other areas of the home, as firewood is a prime nesting area.

Carpent Ant infestation requires specific procedures and methods which can only be conducted by a professional.

We specialize in carpenter ant control while utilizing environment friendly practices. Call our office for a free onsite estimate at 888 881 7333. We will customize a treatment program that fits your needs.

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