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How to get rid of carpenter ants

Carpenter ants are one of the largest ant species found in the United States. While they are not known to spread disease, carpenter ants can become a major threat to your business through the destruction they cause.

Often confused with termites, carpenter ants do not consume wood, but they do make tunnels through it to build their nests. They can be extremely hard to locate and require professional control methods, as they can quickly damage wood elements and foam insulation in your commercial property.

If you suspect you have a carpenter infestation, call the experts at Rentokil today at 1-855-633-6260 to talk to an expert about ant control or contact us online.

What do carpenter ants look like?

Carpenter ants vary in color but are generally black or dark-bodied and about 12.7 mm in length. Although they’re generally larger than other ants, size can’t always be used as an identifying feature with carpenter ants because they can come in a variety of sizes. Winged carpenter ants (also known as ‘swarmers’) are sometimes mistaken for termites.

There are five classes of ants within a colony each with different job classifications:

  • Queens lay eggs and then take on colony duties once the worker carpenter ants mature into adults.
  • Winged males fertilize the queen to ensure she lays eggs throughout her life. Soon after mating, the females shed their wings and the males die.
  • Majors are the largest worker ants in a colony and protect the colony against predators.
  • Media are mid-sized worker ants.
  • Minors are the smallest size category of worker ants. Media and minor ants do most of the food gathering and colony construction.

Signs of carpenter ants

Carpenter ants can be found in any commercial business that has an interior or exterior made of wood. Identifying the signs of carpenter ants is crucial to successfully eradicating these wood-destroying pests from your property. Carpenter ants require specific ant solutions that differ from other ant species.

There are a number of signs that may indicate a carpenter ant problem on your property including:

  • Winged carpenter ants (swarmers) - These emerge around baseboards, window casings or vents, usually in spring or summer. If you see more than 20, it may indicate the presence of a large colony.

  • Noise - If you hear a crunching sound, it could be the sound of rustling from their nests in the wood of your business. Nests are usually built in wood structures and can also be found in wall or ceiling voids.

  • Sawdust - As nests become established in wood, carpenter ants often leave behind a trail of sawdust, which usually leads back to the nest.

  • Damaged wood - Carpenter ants tunnel through wood to create their nests, creating ‘galleries’ in wood, which have a clean, smooth and sandpapered appearance.

Prevent carpenter ant infestations in your business

Are you worried about carpenter ants invading your business? Carpenter ants often make their way inside in an attempt to find food, and they are particularly attracted to sweet substances. There are a number of steps that you can take to prevent them from entering your property. Most have to do with eliminating the conditions that are attractive to these ants.

  • Always cover food and store food in containers in kitchen areas and break rooms. In addition to the insects they eat, carpenter ants will feed on anything people consume.
  • Clean up food and liquid spills immediately.
  • Ensure all gutter systems work to channel water away from the building.
  • Seal any cracks and crevices in your property that may serve as entryways.
  • Eliminate moisture problems in and around your business – carpenter ants prefer moist places to dry environments.
  • Replace any decayed wood – nests are often found in rotten wood.
  • Move debris and lumber away away from your property and keep it dry and elevated to allow air circulation – firewood is one of the easiest ways to carry these ants indoors, so make sure you check the wood for signs of infestation.
  • Remove nearby rotting or dead trees around the perimeter of your commercial property – these often provide ideal conditions for a carpenter ant nest and a good base from which they can explore the area closer. Carpenter ants are known to travel great distances for food.

Carpenter ant nests

The most effective way to get rid of carpenter ants is to find the nest and destroy it. Common places to find carpenter ant nests include hollow doors, window sills, attic areas, and wall voids. However, it can sometimes be difficult to find the nest for a number of reasons:

  • Carpenter ants are nocturnal, so you will often have to wait for night time to find a trail that leads to the nest. To make this more difficult, carpenter ants do not tend to travel in large numbers, so a trail may be even harder to spot.
  • Carpenter ants don’t usually just set up one nest, but a whole series of ‘satellite’ nests too, which ensures the colony’s survival even if one nest is destroyed.
  • Carpenter ants can do considerable damage to timber in your business – it may be necessary to replace timbers if they have been very badly damaged. You should ensure that all the ants have been completely destroyed before you begin to replace damaged wood in your building.

Rentokil carpenter ant treatment

Rentokil recommends the methods below to remove carpenter ants depending on the specific nature of your infestation.

Dust material application

In many situations, a dust material will be used to find and eliminate nests of carpenter ants in the interior of a property. A pesticidal dust bulb and extension can reach into void areas and when properly applied, the dust will float and thoroughly cover the hidden areas where carpenter ants can hide within a structure. 

Dust material treatments will be applied from the inside and will be followed up by a treatment from the outside. The two-fold approach helps to ensure that no hidden areas where nests may exist are overlooked. 

Perimeter treatments

A treatment using non-repellent materials will be applied to the perimeter, focusing in on trails of carpenter ants that have been identified and problem areas where trails can potentially appear. The treatment can extend from the ground to any parts of the building’s exterior that the insects could use to enter the property.

The Technician will also apply the treatment to any cracks in the property’s foundation, which carpenter ants and many other insects frequently use to enter residences.

Carpenter ant nest treatments

Nest and barrier treatments are another component of Rentokil’s carpenter ant control solutions. It is crucial that all nests are detected and treated in order to rid the property of all ongoing carpenter ant infestations. It can often be very difficult to spot carpenter ant nests without a trained eye and the right equipment. That’s why it is crucial to contact pest control professionals when your property faces a carpenter ant problem.

Call us at 1-855-633-6260 for details on our carpenter ant control services or contact us online.

Multiple species of ants can cause pest problems.

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