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Carpenter Ants: A Four-Season Pest

mom and daughter on couch in front of window

Some pests stop plaguing us during the winter months. Some die off. Some go into a dormant state. But, if carpenter ants get into the walls of a heated structure and establish themselves, they will not slow down too much, even if the weather outside is bitter cold. 

Although carpenter ants are generally most active during spring and summer months, they continue to be active in fall and winter inside homes. In nature, these ants will establish their nests inside decaying wood, in places such as rotting stumps, logs, or trees. And when the temperatures begin to drop, they will seal off their colony and go into a state of dormancy called diapause. They are not hibernating but only slowed down. The difference is that they will become active again as soon as the weather warms up. This usually happens in spring but it can also happen if there are warm spells in the middle of the winter. But, since their colonies are sealed off during this time, it is unlikely they will be seen during a winter warm spell in nature. In our homes, this is not the case. Warm weather could have them appearing in your pantry or food storage areas.

Inside the wood of a home, carpenter ants will remain active all winter long. The heat that radiates through walls is enough to keep those insects digging galleries inside our walls. But carpenter ants do not eat wood, the way termites do. Carpenter ants eat a wide variety of foods that can be found in homes. Because of this, they will forage inside and outside of our homes for food. In warmer months, they will be happy to find food outside, but in winter they will be more likely to forage inside where it is warm. But you will not typically see them in large numbers, or at all since these insects are nocturnal. They send out scouts to find a source of food, then come out to collect that food in the dead of night when it is unlikely anyone will see them.


While carpenter ants are hiding in your walls, they can do a lot of damage and remain undetected for years. They chew holes into wood and then carve out galleries and tunnels. If left untreated, rodents may chew those holes even larger. So, in this indirect way, carpenter ants can lead to a rodent infestation. And rodents can bring with them lice, mites, ticks, and fleas.

If carpenter ant activity goes on long enough, home repairs will have to be made. Wood will need to be replaced. And they don't only chew on softwood, they can chew on sound wood as well. As time goes on, this chewing of holes will lead to windows and doors not working properly. Windows will become hard to open, or impossible to close once they have been open a while. And doors can start to stick as well, as the structure of the home begins to warp.

The damage caused by carpenter ant activity is sometimes mistaken for damage created by water. Walls may begin to bulge, ceilings may sink, and floors may begin to dip. And the more holes these insects chew, the more likely it will be for rainwater to find its way in and for actual water damage to take place.

Carpenter ants can also cause damage to the people living inside a home. Although they don't sting or bite, they can cause enough damage to a balcony or exterior staircase to the point where a foot may slip or go through wood, causing an injury.


If you see a few large black ants crawling around inside your home, it is very likely that there are hundreds more chewing away at the insides of your walls. Don't allow that damage to become permanent. Reach out to the professionals here at Witt Pest Management and we will take care of that carpenter ant problem for you. Help is just a few clicks away.

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