Carpenter Ants In Connecticut


Often you won’t even know you have an issue with carpenter ants, as they typically stay unseen. Largely, carpenter ants choose nesting sites outdoors, in old tree trunks and rooted wood fences. In mid-summer satellite nests are formed, and these are the typical ones that find a nest indoor, while the outdoor parent nest still thrives. Indoors the carpenter ants look for soft wood damaged by rot or water, this makes the wood easier for them to chew through. You may think that the carpenter ants eat the wood, but that is incorrect. Carpenter ants do not posses the proper microbes in their intestines to break down the cellulosic material, rather they like to build a nest or gallery in the wood. The keep these galleries clean of all debris by creating a “window” in the wood to push it out, keeping the entire gallery free from obstructions.

One of the most alarming sites may be a large male winged carpenter ants coming out to test the temperature to see if it is swarming time yet. This could be your first clue you have an indoor nest, other clues could be rustling sounds in the walls, wood debris called frass looking similar to “pencil shavings”, ant body parts pilled in the frass, or caught in spider webs. The primary food for carpenter ants is insect honeydew, plant and fruit extracts, as well as other arthropods. If food is scarce they will often eat their own weak. This helps with identifying the species, as they clear their gallery of debris, the frass and body parts fall and get caught in spider webs. I use spider webs for signs of infestation on every inspection, you can learn so much from the contents of a web.

Carpenter ants also nest inside of insulation, quite often I have found nests in basements between the box plate and insulation. They nest in this the same way as they would nest in wood, but the insulation is easier to chew, it’s like butter for them. Just last month I did an inspection on a home that was just built 1 year ago, the owner said I can’t have carpenter ants already, can I? The answer was yes, and they were in the foam blown insulation. He called me because one day he went into his basement and saw a pile of insulation bits in the corner. He thought maybe a mouse had gotten to it. I got there and immediately noticed that corner of the house had a tree limb touching the corner of the house, and that corner of the house was also pitched to be more water prone. I inspected the pile and the above insulation and immediately knew we had carpenter ants. There were bits of undigestible exoskeletal parts mixed in with the insulation frass, and the insulation had 3 circular “windows” in different areas over a 4ft linear area. I tapped on it and listened and sure enough you hear them all running around. Treatment was easy, dust the holes, get a vacuum and as the ants pored out by the dozens suck them up.

But how can you prevent carpenter ants from nesting inside in the first place?

Remove decaying wood from around buildings, and store firewood outdoors well away from the house, bringing indoors only that which is free of ant infestations and that which can be burned immediately. Ensure good ventilation and drainage around the building so the wooden parts stay dry. Repair or replace leaky water and drainage pipes. Carpenter ants generally locate their nests in moist wood near a water source, such as a leaking roof, leaking or sweating pipes or a dishwasher. Prune all trees and shrubs that touch the house to prevent ants from using branches to travel to the building. Permanent solutions to Carpenter ant infestations require correcting structural problems that allow moisture to dampen wood.