When you see an ant in your home, you may be inclined to sweep it away and forget about it. But is that one little ant a sign of a much bigger problem? Are you ignoring some serious damage going on to the very foundation of your home?
If you’ve found one, you’re probably wondering are carpenter ants dangerous to my home and family. Unfortunately, the answer is yes. But there’s no need to panic when you see one. A professional will always know how to safely and effectively get rid of a carpenter ant infestation.
They’re big and scary looking, but carpenter ants dealt with quickly and in the correct way won’t amount to a larger problem.
Before you decide to pick up the phone and call an exterminator, you should learn a bit more about carpenter ants. Keep reading to find out what carpenter ants look like, are ant bites dangerous, how to recognize an infestation, and what to do about them.
What Is a Carpenter Ant
Carpenter ants are the largest species of common household ants. They can be as large as 1/2 an inch long. They range in color from black to red, with most falling into a category between those two.
A carpenter ant queen can be as long as one inch and will start out with wings.
To adequately handle a carpenter ant infestation, they have to be properly identified. Some people confuse them with termites because they both infest wood. The easiest way to tell them apart is by color. Termite workers are milky white, while carpenter ants are always those dark red or black colors.
Another difference between ants and termites is what they do to wood. While termites actually eat wood, carpenter ants only remove it to build their nests inside.
Are Carpenter Ants Dangerous to Your Home
A colony of carpenter ants will cause serious damage to the structural integrity of your home. Even if you think your home is safe because it’s made of brick, you likely have some wooden components that you hadn’t thought about. Support beams, frames, and even foundations are often made of wood that can be destroyed by ants.
Carpenter ants prefer to make their nests in wood that has already experienced some water damage. That’s why it’s important to keep your plumbing up to date and get regular inspections. A small leak can cause wood to rot, which invites pesky ants to make their home there.
You may not notice the carpenter ant problem until it’s too late. They spend so much of their lives in the wood of your home that you may not recognize the signs. Then, all of a sudden, you’ll have damage to your home that can cost up to thousands of dollars.
When threatened, carpenter ants can bite. Are ant bites dangerous? In this case, not particularly.
They look different from a lot of bug bites because they don’t administer venom. Most carpenter ant bites will appear as slightly irritated red skin with a slight burning sensation. However, some carpenter ants have mandibles big enough to break the skin.
After receiving a bite, clean the area with soap and water. You can relieve the burning with a cool, wet cloth. If you experience any lasting or worsening symptoms, seek help. You could be having an allergic reaction or misidentified what bit you.
Signs of Infestation
How do you know if you just saw one carpenter ant or if you have an infestation in your home? Generally speaking, if you see one, there are others hiding. But let’s take a look at some other common signs. You could have an infestation without ever seeing any at all.
When carpenter ants burrow into the wood of your house, they need to leave the excess wood somewhere. Carpenter ants will leave little trails and piles of sawdust as a tell-tale sign that they’re there.
Check for sawdust near the wooden components of your home. Look by windowsills and door frames. Peek in crawl spaces and attics where there may be exposed wood.
Take extra notice around wood that may have water damage, such as wood that’s exposed to the elements or near your pipes.
Rustling in the Walls
Sometimes you can hear ants before you see them. Ant colonies have many different kinds of workers who work hard at their jobs day and night. Try pressing your ear up to a wall.
If you hear a faint rustling, it’s not good. Whether it’s carpenter ants or not, something is getting to work, tearing apart your home, and you should call pest control about it.
You can determine if you have an ant problem and where they’re coming from with a simple ant trail test. Ants release a pheromone signal to other ants when they find a food source. And you can use this to your advantage by setting a little trap.
Place honey and peanut butter in a jar on the floor. Remember, carpenter ants don’t eat wood, so they’ll still be interested in this snack. Wait a while, and son, you’ll have a trail of ants. Follow the trail to discover exactly where they’re coming into your kitchen from.
You’ll likely find a little crack that they’re using as an entrance, and behind that crack, you’re sure to find an ant colony.
When to Call the Exterminator
As soon as you suspect an ant infestation, you should call a professional. DIY efforts are not recommended. By trying to deal with an ant infestation on your own, you could end up poisoning your pets and children. You can also end up splitting up colonies and creating a bigger ant problem for yourself.
Don’t assume that ants will go away with time, either. A single ant queen can live for 15 years.
An experienced exterminator will know how to get rid of your ants quickly, safely, and effectively.
A House Safe From Ants
With this guide, you should know the answer to are carpenter ants dangerous, how to recognize them, signs of infestation, and when to call the professionals in. As long as they’re dealt with quickly, your home is safe from their destruction.
Do you think your house has an ant problem? Contact us today for a consultation or inspection.