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Avoid a Late-Winter Carpenter Ant Infestation

20120527 carpenter ant (shadowed)

When the little sugar ants retreat in the fall, you may face a new pest battle just before spring: a carpenter ant infestation. Carpenter ants don’t live underground like their smaller counterparts. Instead, they build their nests in above-ground cavities. When it comes to ant control, Seattle residents often find these big black bugs within walls, ceilings and floors. Without the right ant treatment, carpenter ants can cause thousands of dollars in structural damage.

Carpenter Ant Identification

There are many different species of carpenter ants, which can vary in size and color – making identification tricky in many cases. These wood-destroying pests are often mistaken for termites, particularly when they swarm. That’s why it’s best to consult a pest control expert to properly identify the pest.

Ant control professionals typically distinguish carpenter ants by their jointed antennae, pinched waist, evenly rounded thorax and the single node between the thorax and abdomen. Here in the Northwest, the most commonly found carpenter ants will feature the following characteristics.

  • Color: Black
  • Size: ¼ inch to 5/8 inch
  • Special features: Wings that the ants can shed

Preventing a Carpenter Ant Infestation

Carpenter ants can enter your home anywhere there’s an opening, which means you can prevent an infestation by sealing your home properly. This means filling cracks and holes on the exterior of your home and fixing or replacing broken window screens. This is best done before the weather turns cold, as the ants will seek a warm nesting site for winter.

Carpenter ants destroy wood, insulation, sheathing and other materials as they nest. However, they don’t typically nest within dry wood, as they prefer lumber affected by water or decay. Keeping your home moisture-free by fixing leaks immediately, keeping your roof in good repair and so on, you can make your home less attractive to carpenter ants.

Like other pests, carpenter ants are foragers that seek food and water outdoors. By eliminating sources of standing water, yard debris and food from around your home, you’ll be less likely to experience a carpenter ant infestation.

The best type of ant treatment is prevention. Whenever there are issues surrounding ant control, Seattle residents shouldn’t hesitate to call a green pest control expert.

[ Photo by: schizoform, on Flickr, via CC License ]

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