Carpenter Ants Can Be Costly
Carpenter ant damage can be extensive.


Carpenter ants are among the most destructive pests in Philadelphia. Every year, infestations cause thousands of dollars' worth of damage to homes and businesses. The damage caused by these pests rarely is obvious until it reaches a devastating level, highlighting the importance of regular inspections by pest control professionals.

Through the identification of risk factors for an infestation, routine inspections and treatments when they are required, it is possible for anyone to protect their property from carpenter ants.


With a pair of antennae and six legs, carpenter ants are identified as insects. Most species are black, though it is not unusual to see red carpenter ants, and some individuals display more than one color. Carpenter ants are among the largest ants in the region, with typical adults measuring between six and 18 millimeters. The queen of the carpenter ant colony is larger than other individuals, sometimes reaching 20 millimeters.


Many people mistakenly think that carpenter ants eat wood, but this is not the case. Like many other ant species, carpenter ants subsist on a diet of sugar and protein. The honeydew that is secreted by scale insects and aphids is a favorite food, and carpenter ants do perform natural pest control thanks to their appetite for other insects, both living and dead.

Because people also eat sugar and protein, kitchens are highly attractive to carpenter ants. Fruit, vegetables, bread, meat, pasta, jam, honey, syrup and other foods all may be contaminated by these pests. Additionally, the species is known to infest pet food as it contains their basic nutritional requirements.


Carpenter ants prefer to nest in damaged or otherwise rotting wood. In the wild, this means that a colony may be located in a fallen tree or a rotting stump. The colony alternatively may live closer to human habitations, looking for likely nests in wooden fencing, woodpiles, decks and wooden furniture.

While nesting close to a human habitation can signal destruction, the worst damage typically occurs when a colony elects to nest within the structure of a home or other building.

A successful carpenter ant colony may include thousands of individuals. Accordingly, it is essential for the workers to construct nests that are increasingly large and complex. A variety of tunnels and chambers may almost hollow out a large tree or support beam.

Within buildings, nests are likely to be found in attics, basements and crawlspaces. Places where moisture gathers, like the subfloor beneath a kitchen or bathroom, are other likely nesting sites. Window and door frames also may become part of the ants' nest.


Even having a carpenter ant colony established in a woodpile, fence or fallen tree on the property can represent a huge headache for homeowners. This is because carpenter ants possess a particularly keen sense of smell. Their noses unerringly lead them to distant kitchens and pantries in search of food. Accordingly, all of the food that carpenter ants contact is contaminated and must be thrown away. Tables, counters and floors on which carpenter ants walk similarly are contaminated and require disinfecting.

A carpenter ant colony in close proximity to a structure presents other problems as well. Should the colony require a larger or better nesting site, they may move into the home or other structures on the property. Now, the homeowner must worry not only about contamination in the kitchen but also damage to the structure of their residence.

Nests may be established within attics, basements, floors, ceilings or elsewhere. As the colony grows, so does the nest, and this can translate to wholesale destruction behind walls, beneath floors and above ceilings. Because this damage occurs behind the scenes, people may be unaware of it until it is widespread are requires significant repairs.


Carpenter ants spend most of their life cycle either underground, in fallen logs or hidden with the structure of buildings. This means that they rarely are seen by people who are not trained to look for the telltale signs of an infestation.

Because of their sheltered habits, it is possible for carpenter ants to be active throughout the year. This means that there may be no respite from carpenter ant activity even during the coldest of winter.

Carpenter ants may be most visible at some point in the spring as temperatures rise. This is the season when the "swarmers," which are winged, reproductive members of the colony, rise up out of the nest to mate and establish new colonies. Frequently, a swarm is the first indication that homeowners have of a carpenter ant infestation.


Carpenter ants are not prone to biting or stinging people, but they still can cause health concerns. Perhaps the most frequent problem arises from the pests' habit of walking through streets, sewers, garbage cans, animal carcasses and other unsavory places before entering a kitchen or pantry. This means that the carpenter ants track a large amount of dirt, germs and bacteria into the places where people eat as well as the food that they consume. Food poisoning is a relatively common occurrence in homes that are infested by carpenter ants.

Additionally, any people who have respiratory ailments may find that their symptoms increase anytime an infestation is underway. As carpenter ants tunnel into wood inside the structure, they leave behind piles and trails of sawdust. This sawdust may work its way into heating, cooling and ventilation systems, and these impurities have a detrimental effect on people with asthma and allergies.


Carpenter ant control may be required based on these signs:

• Discovering damaged wood on the property
• Flying ants appearing in a springtime swarm
• Piles of sawdust accumulating in and around structures


It may be possible to keep carpenter ants away using these tips:

Attend to water leaks as soon as they are discovered
Replace all rotting or damaged wood around the property
Place woodpiles at least 20 feet from buildings
Paint or stain all wood on the property
Remove clutter from attics, basements and around foundations
Look for and cover up any holes or cracks in building exteriors


An inspection by a licensed exterminator is the only means to accurately determine the extent of a carpenter infestation.

Every year, home and business owners across Philadelphia are forced to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs for damage that caused by carpenter ants.

If you suspect you may have a problem with carpenter ants contact SafeGuard Pest Control LLC. Our trained technicians will provide accurate species identification, identify entry points, and implement the best treatment methods for complete eradication, including drilling, sealing, and use of specialized dusts and sprays.
SafeGuard Pest Control, LLC.
A Division Of Newtown Termite & Pest Control, Inc.
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