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Carpenter Ant Questions Need Professional Answers

By Chris Williams on April 27, 2016.

What does carpenter ant damage look like? Just in the last few days, we’ve been seeing large black ants in our house that we’re worried might be carpenter ants. Then my son found a piece of wood trim in the basement wall that was kind of dark and mushy and just fell apart when he tried to remove it. M. S., Topsfield, MA

There are a lot of questions here that need answers. The ants might or might not be carpenter ants (you need a professional identification). Even if they are carpenter ants, they might or might not be nesting in your home (you need a professional inspection). See Carpenter Ants Might Be Damaging Your Wood…or Not.

Carpenter Ants or Wood Rot?

The black ants, whether carpenter ants or other ants, could just be wandering in from outside looking for food. The wood damage that you’ve found doesn’t sound like carpenter ant damage. Mushy wood that falls apart sounds like wood rot. That might be good news in that the damage isn’t from carpenter ants but it might be bad news because it means you have damp wood conditions in your home that attract carpenter ants (see Carpenter Ants Prefer Damp Wood). Again, a pest control professional could tell for sure and a pest control professional should inspect your home for moisture problems and wood damage.

Carpenter Ant Damage is Not Obvious

To answer your initial question, carpenter ant damage is often not visible at all on the outside surface of the wood, at least in early stages. You might see some rippling of the wood surface. If you break into damaged wood, you would see wide, hollowed-out galleries that may contain ant eggs or larvae. The galleries are clean and smooth since the ants dump sawdust and debris out of their galleries through tiny slits. Small sawdust piles on the floor are often the first indication of a carpenter ant nest but the piles could be hidden inside a wall void.

For your peace of mind, give Colonial Pest a call today. If you do have carpenter ants in your home, we can offer a control program designed just for your situation. For more, see Why Are Carpenter Ants a Concern?

Photo Credit : “Holzschaden” |  CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

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