Warm weather in North Carolina brings so many pests – wasps, termites, mosquitoes, just to name a few – that you may think ants are the least of your concerns (with the exception of fire ants). Carpenter ants shouldn’t be ignored, though. These havoc-wreaking pests are often underestimated until damage is discovered.

Not sure if your home is in danger of carpenter ants? Our Raleigh ant control company is sharing everything you need to know.

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What Are Carpenter Ants?

Carpenter ants are some of the largest ants in the Triangle area, often black in color, but sometimes reddish-brown. Their name comes from how they create their nests, chewing out galleries in moist, soft wood and wooden structures in order to build sprawling tunnels from one central nesting spot to food sources and satellite nests.

Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t rely on wood for food, instead using it solely as a habitat. As they chew through wood, they leave behind a sawdust-like substance along with smooth, hollow tunnels, rather than the mud-packed tunnels termites have. That doesn’t make them less destructive, though. In fact, if left unchecked, carpenter ants can cause thousands of dollars in structural damage to your home.

Identifying Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are large, often as long as three-quarters of an inch in length, and while they are usually black, they may be red or brown in color. The qualities that really separate them from other ants – a circle of hair at the base of their bodies, heart-shaped head, and long, protruding mandibles (jaw bones), are best seen under a microscope.

If you see a carpenter ant, most likely you’ll see a worker or a swarming ant. Swarming carpenter ants have wings and are looking to start a satellite nest with a mate to build a satellite colony. If you see carpenter ants with wings, chances are, you’ve got a well-established colony either in your house or nearby as swarmers don’t usually come out until the colony is well-established – usually about a year or two after beginning.

How Do Carpenter Ants Differ from Termites?

They create complex tunnels through wood, swarm around in warm spring and summer months, and can create thousands of dollars in damage? Am I talking about carpenter ants or termites? At this point, you probably guessed, “both,” and either problem requires the help of a qualified exterminator who can eradicate the pests and prevent them from coming back.

That being said, there are a few, key differences:

  • Carpenter ants are larger and have well defined “waists” whereas termites are small and shaped like a grain of rice.
  • Carpenter ants have bent antennae that look like they have “elbows.”
  • Termites are usually light colored, white, or even transparent.
  • Ants often leave the colony to forage for food, whereas termites rarely leave the nest.
  • Termite galleries are rough and ragged, filled with mud and dirt, and carpenter ants’ galleries are smooth and clearly defined.

Signs You Have Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are drawn to wood, particular moist, damaged wood that is easy for them to tunnel through. If you have seen large black or brown ants around your home, you may have an infestation. Consider looking for these signs:

  • Visible signs of multiple ants and swarming ants;
  • Wood that sounds hollow when you tap on it;
  • Shed wings on window sills and around baseboards;
  • Sawdust trails;
  • Brittle, crumbling wood

If you do see signs of carpenter ants, or you’re not sure if it’s ants or termites, call an extermination company immediately. If caught quickly, you can save thousands of dollars in repair costs. If you find swarming ants inside your home, you should be prepared for the extermination company to find an infestation within your walls.

Contact Us for Ant Extermination in Raleigh

Carpenter ants are often overlooked due to termites, but they can be just as damaging. At Stomp Pest Control, we offer our clients a comprehensive, Six-Step Process to get rid of pests and with our affordable monthly packages, we’ll help you keep them gone. To learn more, reach out to us today at 919-231-3292 or fill out the form below to get started.