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Carpenter Ants Might Be Damaging Your Wood…or Not

By Chris Williams on May 31, 2016.

My friend says that if you see big black ants in your house, you’ve got carpenter ants eating your wood somewhere. Is that true? N., Jamaica Plain, MA

There are at least three things wrong with that assumption.

  1. Big, black ants could be carpenter ants. Carpenter ants are certainly the largest of the common household ant pests. However, some other ants also have large members. For example, the winged swarmers of the pavement ant are fairly large. Size is relative though, what’s a big ant to you might not be a big ant to me.
  2. Even if the ants are carpenter ants, they might not be nesting in your house. They might be nesting outside and just foraging into your house looking for crumbs and other easy pickings. Finding the location of the ant colony, either indoors or outdoors and treating it, is the key to carpenter ant control. See Why Do I Have Carpenter Ants in My House?
  3. Finally, it seems I’m always pointing out that carpenter ants don’t eat wood. Termites eat wood but carpenter ants excavate wood to make their nest sites. They use their jaws to tear out pieces of wood that are then dumped out of the nest site, along with other debris. Small sawdust piles on the floor or other surface are often the first indication of a carpenter ant nest somewhere above (see Sawdust Piles Could Mean Carpenter Ants). Whether they are eating wood or excavating it is a moot point; carpenter ants still damage wood.

If you’ve got “big, black ants” in your house, you should contact a professional for an identification and inspection. Whatever the ants, I’m sure you would rather they weren’t in your house. We can take care of that. Give Colonial a call today!

For more general information on carpenter ants in homes, see the following:

Credit : Camponotus ligniperda | CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

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