Would you know a carpenter ant if you saw one? We hope so. Carpenter ants are a destructive type of ant that can damage the wood of your home. They start by infested rotting wood in your yard, such as stumps, logs, fallen trees, and trees with wood rot. They move from these to old fences, decks, and construction materials left near your home. The closer they get, the more likely you are to get an infestation in the walls of your home. But even if carpenter ants never get inside your home, the damage they can do to external structures can add up to a lot of money. That is why it is so important to be able to identify carpenter ants and the warning signs these ants may give you.

1. Seeing Carpenter Ants

While carpenter ants are nocturnal by nature, and most worker ants will come out at night, you may see a carpenter ant in the day time. There are several species of carpenter ants. The two most common species are entirely black or black and dark red. Carpenter ant workers are polymorphic, so they may be as small as ½ an inch long, or as large as ⅝ inches. If you see several of these ants together, you may be able to notice the variation in size. This is another helpful way to identify carpenter ants. If you're able to capture an ant and examine it under magnification, look to see if it has one node between the thorax and abdomen. While carpenter ants aren't the only ants that have one node, they are, by far, the largest.

Carpenter ants feed on honeydew, which can be found in your landscaping. If you have carpenter ants, you may be able to see them at night with a flashlight by inspecting the branches of bushes and shrubs.

Carpenter ants may get into your pantry, but this is actually rare. If they do, you'll see them from dusk till dawn.

2. Seeing Winged Ants

Carpenter ant workers are big. They can be the largest worker ants you'll find on your property. The alates are even larger, sometimes as much as two times larger. If you see winged carpenter ants, you're likely to know it.

Here are a few things you should know about these large, winged ants.

  • Winged carpenter ants are drawn to light. If they emerge inside your home, you'll find them on window sills, attempting to get out to the light. Those ants didn't come into your home from the outside. You have an infestation.

  • Winged carpenter ants swarm during mating. If you see lots of carpenter ants all together, it is a warning sign of an infestation, even when you find them outside. Carpenter ants swarm during mating. After this, they separate and look for appropriate locations to establish nests.

  • Winged carpenter ants shed their wings after mating. You may not see a swarm of carpenter ants or a single winged ant before an infestation takes root in your home. The only sign you may get is the presence of shed wings. A carpenter ant swarm doesn't last for more than thirty minutes.

3. Seeing Damage

There are many pests that can damage the wood of your Pittsburgh property. It is important that you do routine inspections of your exterior wood and look for changes. When holes appear, you need to determine if carpenter ants are responsible for the holes. Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • The presence of carpenter ants crawling around is an obvious indication. Look for polymorphic workers that are larger than ½ inch.

  • The presence of frass can be a subtle but clear indication. Frass is a material that carpenter ants push out of their tunnels. This material is made of sawdust, feces, and insect parts.

  • Trenches in wood. When carpenter ant tunnels are exposed, they will look like trenches dug into the wood. These trenches will be smooth to the touch. If they feel gritty, you've uncovered termite tunnels.

  • Splintered wood can be an indication that there are carpenter ant tunnels within. Tap on the wood and listen for a hollow sound.

When You See Carpenter Ants Or Warning Signs

Contact Witt Pest Management at the first sign of carpenter ants. You should not allow these ants to continue damaging your Pittsburgh home. The damage they do can be difficult or impossible to fix. Take fast action to effectively eliminate them as soon as you see signs.