In nature, carpenter ants nest in the logs and stumps of decaying trees. Their job is to help decompose those trees as part of the cycle of life. It's no surprise then that they are attracted to other forms of wet and rotting wood, such as wood on your deck that's damp from a damaged gutter.
Although they prefer moist wood, carpenter ants don’t just attack rotten wood. They can attack any part of a wooden structure, such as porch pillars, wall studs, door casings, and window sills.
According to Penn State, carpenter ants can be active all year long, especially if their nest is in a heated building; however, summer is their busiest time. The ants emerge in the spring or early summer when the queen mates and looks for a nesting place. She's most likely to pick a moist, soft piece of wood as the ideal place to lay her eggs.
As the colony grows, it’s not unusual for carpenter ants to spread out and create satellite colonies, putting other wood in danger. Often, it’s the satellite colonies that invade the wooden structures built by humans.
Some factors help attract carpenter ants including:
Damp, moist areas of wood, such as wood parts of the house, located near leaky gutters or spigots, or wood that has been damaged and exposed to rain
Sources of food, such as crumbs that aren’t cleaned up
Piles of firewood or brush
To decrease the chance of a carpenter ant infestation you take these precautions:
Repair any leaks and the damaged wood they caused. Use pressure-treated wood where possible.
Move firewood away from your house and clean up any brush or yard waste to reduce carpenter ant nesting places.
Remove sources of food, including crumbs, and remove pet food bowls when your dog has finished eating.
Find and seal any gaps in the foundation and around areas where pipes enter the house. These are all areas where ants could enter
Trim back bushes and trees, so they don't touch the house and provide a highway for ants.
Signs of Infestation
Check around your home for signs of carpenter ants. Look for piles of stringy bits of wood and dead insect parts in locations such as under your porch, or around cracks in the siding. Carpenter ants don't eat the wood they excavate, so you may be able to spot the wood they've deposited outside of their tunnel. If your home is hosting carpenter ants, you might be able to detect a rustling sound in the walls and ceilings, if you listen through a water glass held to the wall.
Because carpenter ants are active at night during the summer, you can use a flashlight to look for worker ants and track them back to their nest, or to see where they are entering your home.
If you even think you have a carpenter ant infestation, your first step should be a call to Witt Pest Management. We have a variety of treatment plans to meet your needs. Our trained professionals will examine your property, determine where the problem is, and devise the right solution to control carpenter ants in or around your Pittsburgh home.