By Chris Williams on February 24, 2017.

I read in one of your blogs that if you see carpenter ants inside in the winter it means they are nesting inside your house. I just found a few black ants yesterday and it’s still winter here, so does that mean we have carpenter ants? P. W., Marblehead, MA

It probably means that you have some kind of ants nesting in, or directly under, your house but you need a professional to determine if they are carpenter ants. Save some ants for identification.

In our colder Northeast winters, outdoor ants hunker down. They move deeper into the soil or wood for warmth and become relatively inactive, waiting for warmer weather. However, ants that are lucky enough to be nesting in a warm, sheltered place in a building or crawlspace can become somewhat active on warmer winter days.

During warm weather, when we find any type of ants inside it’s always a question as to whether they are just foraging in from their outside nests looking for food, or whether they actually have a nest (or nests) inside the structure. In winter, foraging in from outside doesn’t usually happen so we start by looking for an indoor source for winter ants. Sometimes we discover that the ants were simply carried in on firewood and everyone can breathe a sigh of relief.


If they are carpenter ants, an inspection may find damaged wood (carpenter ants prefer to nest in softer, water-damaged wood so that’s the first place to look), or sawdust-like dump piles that the ants push out of their galleries. (see Sawdust Piles Could Mean Carpenter Ants). Carpenter ants don’t eat wood like termites do but they do hollow it out for their galleries and can do some damage (see Why Are Carpenter Ants a Concern?).

Call us at Colonial Pest. A professional inspection can answer your questions. Our trained pest control technicians will look for carpenter ant damage and can usually follow trailing ants to their nest site. If you do have carpenter ants, we will design an ant management program that will eliminate the ants and their nests. If they’re not carpenter ants, we will still get them out of your home – guaranteed!

Photo Credit : By Volker Borovsky –, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link



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