What Does Carpenter Ant Damage Look Like?

This is a hard topic to cover. The biggest problem with this subject is that most carpenter ant damage can't be seen. Most of the time, carpenter ants damage wood inside walls and ceiling voids where carved trenches and the sawdust-like frass produced can't be seen. This hidden damage, which can be extensive, is usually uncovered when external changes warrant a deeper inspection such as a floor beginning to sink and a large gap beginning to appear between a baseboard and the floor. But, when these external changes are seen, it is usually too late to stop a carpenter ant infestation from harming your equity.

However, if you're fortunate, you may see carpenter ant damage in a location that is visible. Some of the best places to look are out in your yard. Here are a few of them:

  • Examine the bottom of your fence posts, especially posts that are old, untreated, and unpainted. Carpenter ants are going to target softened wood first, and nothing softens wood like moisture. So the damage is likely to be seen near the soil. If you see carpenter ant damage, it will look like someone has taken a carving knife to the wood and the carved-out trenches will be smooth.

  • If you have stumps in your yard or chunks of wood you use for seats around a fire pit, you may be able to see carpenter ant damage. Look on the edges of the wood for smooth trenches. These trenches can look radial because carpenter ants sometimes feed along the grain, in the same way subterranean termites do. To tell the difference between carpenter ant damage and termite damage, look to see if the tunnels are smooth or gritty. Termite tunnels have soil on the tunnel walls, so they will be visibly gritty. It is important to recognize these damages on stumps and other chopped wood because those carpenter ants can then be addressed before they target your home.

  • You may also be able to see visible carpenter ant damage in the damp locations around your home. Look in the areas around your home that receive a lot of shade as well as in the areas behind plants and in spots where standing water is present. In damp, shaded locations, you might find wood that looks like it has been chewed on. Wooden door and window frames are a common spot for these damages to occur. You may also see carpenter ant damage to the sill of your home, just above the foundation wall. This depends on whether or not you have vinyl siding. Some signs of these damages include trenching and gapping, wood that appears chewed or shredded, and frass coming out of cracks and gaps. Carpenter ant damage doesn't have a consistent appearance, beyond the fact that tunnels and trenches will always appear smooth, so be sure to check for all of the types of carpenter ant damage listed above, not just one.

Most of the time, you're not going to see carpenter ant damage. That is why it is so important to recognize the warning signs of a carpenter ant infestation. But even the warning signs associated with carpenter ant damage can be hard to see.

As we talked about already, you might see the frass that carpenter ants produce. But if that frass is deposited in a wall void, crawl space, or attic space rather than in your common areas, it can easily go undetected.

You might see winged ants. As a carpenter ant nest matures, it will begin to release male and female winged ants. The job of these ants is to mate and establish new nests. But these swarms typically don't last for more than thirty minutes, so they are easy to miss.

However, the most prominent sign that carpenter ants are infesting your home will be the occasional appearance of a scout ant inside your home. It is important to understand that just because you’re only seeing an ant every once in a while doesn’t mean you don’t have a large problem. In fact, it is often quite the opposite. Carpenter ants are mostly nocturnal and they prefer to find their food outdoors rather than inside our homes, so one or two scouts a week may be all you see to alert you to the growing infestation in your home.

The best solution for carpenter ant detection is to hire a professional to perform a thorough inspection of your property. A licensed and certified pest control technician will know where carpenter ants are most likely to be active and what conditions are conducive to habitation. They also know how to implement ongoing monitoring for carpenter ant activity, which is vital in many circumstances as carpenter ants can hide in places people can't get to without pulling up boards or taking off sheetrock.

If you need a carpenter ant inspection or treatment for your home, and you are in our Texas service area, reach out to us at Innovative Pest Control today! We can help you assess the threat and get you the protection you need.

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