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What Every Homeowner Needs To Know About Carpenter Ants

Steps To Protect Your Investment

There are many exciting things about owning your own home. But with ownership comes responsibility, and if you are not vigilant, certain things could be damaging your Tennessee home without anyone even noticing!

There are numerous things that need to be kept up with in order to protect and preserve a home. Grass needs to be mowed, bushes kept trimmed, appliances repaired as needed. The list goes on and on for things that are visible and need to be maintained. But what about things that are not visible? Sometimes a clogged gutter causes wood rot on your home. Sometimes mice squeeze through a hole and begin chewing on wires. And sometimes carpenter ants are chewing away at the wood of your home, just out of sight.

What Are Carpenter Ants?

These ants are the largest ants you are likely to see inside your home. Worker carpenter ants in Tennessee can be as large as 13 mm long. That is pretty big as far as ants go! So they are unlikely to be mistaken for other types of ants. These large ants have elbowed antennae, are typically shiny black to brown in color, and have a single, pointed node between their thorax and evenly-rounded abdomen. Winged reproductives of the carpenter ant (also called swarmers or alates) resemble workers in color and shape but are up to 19 mm long with front wings longer than back wings.

In the wild, these large ants aid in the decomposition of decaying trees. They nest in logs, stumps, and hollow trees. But they often find their way into homes, especially if the wood is wet or rotting. They seldom tunnel into dry, sound wood. Homes built in heavily wooded areas are at the most risk of infestation.

an infestation of carpenter ants inside a nashville home

Carpenter Ant Damage

It is rare to see carpenter ant damage on the outside of wood, but it does happen. This external damage will look like shallow trenches running along the surface of the wood. You may also notice damage around nails that stick out. The damage will look smooth, as though sandpaper was used on it. This damage is most likely to be found on wood that has been in the moist ground or in a moist, shaded location above the ground.

Before seeing any kind of carpenter ant damage, you will likely see frass. This is a soft, powder-like substance that is pushed out of carpenter ant tunnels. This is often referred to as sawdust, though it is much finer than sawdust. This frass will usually be found below tiny kick out holes.

Carpenter ant damage may appear at the bottom of door or window frames, looking like wood has been chipped away. They may make paint chip or crack. And, if left long enough, carpenter ant damage can cause structures to warp which can keep windows and doors from opening and closing properly.

Ants are drawn to moisture. When you reduce the moisture levels around your foundation perimeter, you'll reduce ant populations. To accomplish this, repair leaky hoses, spigots, and downspouts, clean out obstructed gutters and trim back tree branches and overgrown foliage to allow the sun to dry out the shaded areas around the exterior of your home.
Once things are sealed up as much as possible, inspect the potted plants inside your home. If you find any that have ants crawling around in them, move those plants outside to gain more control over the infestation.

Search for any hidden food sources that may have accumulated underneath or behind couches and chairs in your living room.
Check your cabinets, food storage rooms, and pantry and make sure that all food sources, especially sweet foods, are in sealed containers and that those containers are clean. Also, inspect your shelves for any crumbs or food particles and clean them up. It may seem like a lot, but prevention is very important when it comes to these ants.

Carpenter Ant Prevention Tips

  • Make sure all of your gutters are free of obstructions or damage. Keep rainwater channeled well away from your exterior walls so wood rot does not occur.
  • Examine the outside of your home for any areas that are moist and make repairs as needed. Search for gaps, cracks or holes and seal those holes so that no insect or rodent pests can squeeze through.
  • Trim back vegetation from your foundation and walls so air and sunshine can get in and dry your walls. This also removes hiding places for other pests such as mice.
  • Eliminate food sources for ants that may be drawing them close to your home. Don't leave pet food outside, clean up after parties or grilling outside, and make sure all trash is in tightly sealed containers.

How All-American Can Help

If you are concerned about your home being eaten by carpenter ants, All-American Pest Control can help. We have been serving Middle Tennessee families since 1961 and would be happy to serve your family. We offer advanced, environmentally-friendly pest control, with the highest quality service, and we deliver it on time and with a smile. You don't have to let your home be damaged by out-of-sight pests when you invest in Perimeter Plus or All-For-One pest control. Reach out to us today to get started and to learn more about our residential and commercial pest control services in Tennessee, along with how these cost-effective programs work to stop destructive pests.


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