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The Sacramento Region's Guide To Carpenter Ant Damage Identification

February 10, 2021

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a carpenter ant crawling on damaged wood in sacaramento

Discovering lines of ants in your Sacramento home is a sobering experience, but discovering hoards of ants poring out of freshly burrowed holes in your walls is downright terrifying. A carpenter ant infestation is one of the worst ant infestations you'll ever encounter, and they'll often inflict a hefty amount of damage before they're even detected. When it comes to these pesky insects, it's important to know all the facts well before they try to invade.

Gnawing On Facts About Carpenter Ants

Measuring in at over ½ of an inch long, carpenter ants are one of the largest species of ants in North America. They're most commonly black in color, but they can also be red, dark yellow, or even a combination of the three. They have fairly large mandibles that are powerful enough to chew through wood, though they prefer softer decaying wood such as fallen logs and dead trees.

Surprisingly enough, carpenter ants don't actually eat wood; ants just can't digest cellulose-based materials, so instead carpenter ants build their nests within it. Fully established carpenter ant colonies can house up to roughly 50,000 ants, and a hoard like that requires plenty of food to go around:

  • Sugars and sweets

  • Proteins

  • Greasy foods

  • Grains and bread

  • Pet food

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Other insects and aphid honeydew

Carpenter Ants or Termites: The Differences In Appearance & Damage

People often confuse ant infestations with termite infestations, and to be completely fair it's an easy mistake to make. Not only is the threat of a termite infestation incredibly terrifying, they're often too small to properly identify, and that's even if you manage to see one. The best way to differentiate between an ant infestation and a termite infestation is if you actually see worker ants.

There are plenty of other differences between termites and carpenter ants, from their appearance to the damage they inflict on a home. As far as appearance, worker termites are much smaller than carpenter ants, as they usually don't grow any larger than 3/8 of an inch long. They're white to pale tan in color, and they have poorly defined waists, straight antennae, and large bulbous heads. Thankfully, damage is an easy indicator between the two as well:

  • Piles of wood shavings, instead of frass (termite excrement)

  • Much neater exit holes

  • Galleries are much smoother and cleaner

  • Damaged wood is less likely to crumble

  • Extensive damage can take several years, as opposed to several months

Carpenter Ant Prevention & Extermination Tips For Your Sacramento Home

Carpenter ants are attracted to food sources and excessive moisture. They're not terribly fond of properly maintained wood, so any wood with extreme water damage is ideal for these pests. One very important step you can take to deter carpenter ants is to significantly reduce moisture levels in your home; fix leaky pipes, patch up any exterior wood exposed to the elements, repair wood damaged by leaks and flooding, and invest in a dehumidifier.

Proper food storage and cleaning habits are key in keeping any ants out of your Sacramento home. Store dried goods in airtight containers, wipe down food prep areas and counter tops daily, clean up food spills immediately after they occur, and keep a regular sweeping and vacuuming schedule to reduce the amount of crumbs on your floors.

Implementing these preventative measures will significantly reduce your chances of an infestation, but they're not completely fool-proof. If you're struggling with carpenter ants on your property, give our pest experts at HomeShield Pest Control a call. Our technicians are highly-trained in controlling ants common to the Sacramento area, and we always use family-safe and eco-friendly pest control products in all of our treatments. So get in contact with us today to start discussing your home pest control or commercial pest management options.

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