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Preventing Carpenter Ant Infestations: Best Practices and Tips

The key to preventing carpenter ant infestation lies in early detection and taking proactive measures to prevent their infestation. Whether you’re tackling an infestation or looking to safeguard your home against future threats, this blog should help answer some questions and offer advice on spotting the early signs of carpenter ant infestation.

What are Carpenter Ants?

Carpenter ants are a species that gets its name from how it builds nests. They excavate wood and form smooth tunnels inside it. They do not eat wood; they only tunnel and chew through it to create nests. Piles of fine sawdust are a clear sign of carpenter ants in the house and a likely need for carpenter ant extermination. (

The black carpenter ant is a common invader of homes in the northeastern United States. In their natural habitat, carpenter ants aid in the decomposition of dead, decaying trees. They normally nest in logs, stumps, and hollow trees. However, the large, dark-colored workers often invade homes in search of food. These ants seldom tunnel into dry, sound wood, but they may excavate moist, rotting wood and other soft materials (such as foamed plastic insulation board) to make satellite nests. Rarely will the expansion of a nest into a building’s wooden timbers cause structural damage. Homes built in wooded areas are especially subject to infestation. (Penn State. College of Agricultural Science)

What do carpenter ants look like?

Most carpenter ants are black, although some may be brown or black/red, and they can be anywhere from ½” to ⅝” long.

Do carpenter ants bite?

According to, Carpenter ants can bite you, but it’s not common. They will likely do it in self-defense. These bites aren’t dangerous to your health. Carpenter ant bites aren’t severe and don’t appear as a distinct bug bite or sting. You may notice a bite if you’ve been outside and near a colony. There is a chance your skin could be a bit red from the bite, but it shouldn’t be severe. You could feel a burning sensation after the bite. These symptoms won’t linger.

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience swelling, long-lasting pain, a fever, or the bite site worsens. This may be the sign of an infection or allergic reaction. While carpenter ant bites should be harmless, there is a chance that what bit you was something more dangerous than a carpenter ant.

Identifying Carpenter Ant Infestations

Piles of sawdust are the easiest to spot and a telltale sign of a carpenter’s ant infestation. These ants do not eat the wood; they tunnel through it, building their nests and leaving the sawdust behind.

Large (1/2 inch), wingless, dark-colored ants inside a home are usually the first signs of an infestation. However, this does not necessarily mean that a nest is present indoors. The nest may actually be located outside, near the building. Thus, foraging workers from the nest may be entering the structure in search of food and water. These worker ants, which usually emerge at night, feed on meats and foods containing sugar and fat.

During the summer, homeowners can use a flashlight to look for foraging workers at night. Check basement, attic, garage, and building exterior from May through July between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. It may be possible to follow the ants back to their nest or discover where they enter the house. If numerous winged reproductive ants are found at windows inside the house, they probably come from an indoor nest.

Landscaping and Outdoor Maintenance to Prevent Carpenter Ants

Preventing Carpenter Ant Infestations: Best Practices and Tips

The main colony of carpenter ants is located outside of the home. Their favorite choice for nests are:

  • Piles of rotting wood
  • Tree stumps
  • Unused firewood, especially old, wet, and decaying wood
  • Under stones and stone walls.

Carpenter ants prefer wood already softened by mold, dampness, and rotting. Prevention and maintenance are key:

  • Remove stumps, logs, and waste wood within 100 yards of the building.
  • Do not allow vegetation, especially evergreen shrubs and trees, to be in contact with the house.
  • Store firewood away from the house and off the ground, bringing it into the house only when needed. Never store it on a deck, porch, or in the garage.
  • Keep wooden parts of the house and other structures dry by making necessary repairs to roofs, flashing, gutters, and downspouts.
  • Be mindful of standing water, leaking faucets and pipes, and openings and cracks around windows and garage doors. Seak them with silicone-based caulking.
  • Replace any water-damaged, decaying wood. Carpenter ants usually do not infest sound wood with a moisture content of less than 15 percent. Keep exterior wood surfaces painted and sealed. Seal holes through which pipes and wires enter the house. Use pressure-treated (CCA) wood for parts of the structure that will be in contact with the soil. Place a moisture barrier (plastic sheet) over the soil in crawl spaces and under wooden porches and provide adequate ventilation for such spaces.

The Role of Professional Pest Control in Preventing Infestations

While you may think, “They’re just ants, and I only found a few,” what you don’t know or see can be problematic. Professional pest control companies know how to assess your home, yard, and other structures and then determine extermination and preventive treatments.

All Pest Proz have the experience to keep your home and yard pest-free. The key to proper treatment is inspection. We do not charge for home inspections, and upon completion, we will submit a proposal for removal, treatment, and cleanup if required. Soon, your home will be free from rodents and pests.

Contact us to set up a time for a free inspection. Happy Spring!

Landscaping and Outdoor Maintenance to Prevent Carpenter Ants

Resources: Penn State. College of Agricultural Science,,  The Spruce,

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