Carpenter Ant Inspection

Signs of Carpenter Ants
Carpenter Ant Inspection

Wet Wood: If woodwork has been damaged by water, it is an ideal location for carpenter ant nests. The carpenter ants do not digest the wood for food (like termites), but make their homes in the weakened wet wood.

Carpenter Ants Presence and Visiblity: Presence of carpenter ant workers that are foraging for food. Just because you see some of these ants inside your home, it doesn't nessarily mean that they are nesting inside.Swarmer carpenter ants will shed their wings and you can see carpenter ants that fly coming out of vents.

  • Ant Trails: As with many ants, carpenter ants form trails that can be seen among window sills, door frames, baseboards, eaves outside, power lines, telephone poles.
  • Frass: These are wood shavings that the carpenter ants kick out of their galleries after they have excavated, dead insects, and waste products from feeding. It looks like sawdust and is found near nest sites.
  • Sounds: Sounds like a rustling in the walls as they move around and build nests

When and Where To Inspect

Because Carpenter Ants forage primarily at night, use a flashlight and conduct inspections in the evening or early morning to locate foraging trails and nest sites. Remember, workers have been known to travel as far as 100 yards from the colony to search for food and water. You may have a long way to go to find the nest of those Ants you found in your kitchen.

A thorough inspection is important to find all the sites. Don't conclude your inspection when one colony is found; several colonies may be present in and around a single structure; both parent colonies and satellite colonies.

Parent colonies contain the egg-laying queen with its broods, as well as the worker ants. The satellite colony has mature larvae and pupae as well as workers. Inspect wooden structures associated with high moisture, where there may be water damage resulting in softened and moist wood. Carpenter ants will inhabit wood structures that has already been damaged by water or insects.

Carpenter ants prefer frames and sills of windows and doors, as well as tub enclosure walls, kitchen and bath plumbing walls, around sinks, chimneys, and in hollow spaces such as wall voids.

To locate Carpenter Ant nest sites and trails, focus on these areas:

Carpenter ants will typically infest wood that has come into contact with excess moisture from a leak or sweating pipes. When inspecting for Carpenter Ant infestations, the following may indicate a nearby colony:
  • Wall Voids
  • Attics (under roofing and insulation)
  • Flooring and sub flooring
  • Ceilings
  • Windows
  • Skylights
  • Hollow doors
  • Dishwashers
  • Trash compactors
  • Plumbing, pipe chases
  • Moisture problem areas
  • Attics (especially under roofing and insulation) 
  • Flooring or sub-flooring and along carpet edges
  • Hollow doors 
  • Pet food locations (both inside and outside) will attract carpenter ants

Ants are opportunistic by nature and can make a nest just about anywhere depending on the species of ant. You will be looking for the same frass, damage, trails and sound as you would if you were doing an indoor inspection. Here are some potential harborage sites:
  • Trees and Stumps (may be nesting in dead or moisture damaged trees or stumps)
  • Along sidewalks and walkways (sidewalks are used a lot by ants to go to and from their food source and nests).
  • Around the foundation (may be below grass covering)
  • Fence lines-Often used by ants to trail
  • Deteriorating landscape timbers or railroad ties
  • Woodpiles and Firewood
  • Leaf litter 
  • Debris piles 
  • Mulch beds
  • Door kick plates 
  • Roof lines and gutters 
  • Soffits and vents 
  • Windows and door frames 
  • Utility entrances (electric, cable, TV, telephone, gas lines) 
  • Sheds and doghouses 
  • Trash containers

How To Detect Carpenter Ant Galleries

Carpenter Ants prefers something wet, tender, and the rest of the wood to serve as its colony. Signs of presence of these ants are the existence of piles such as sand on the floor or weathered wood.

Often you can see what wood grain looks like near the Carpenter Ants Gallery. This sawdust, known as Frlady, is a wood chip that has been removed from the gallery. This is a good indication that there is a nest nearby.

If you suspect there is a Carpenter Ants but no frbutt, use a screwdriver handle to tap on the base board and other wood surfaces, listening to a damaged void of wood. If a nest is nearby, often the Carpenter Ants will respond by removing the rustling sound inside the hive, similar to that of a lined cellophane sound. Use a screwdriver to investigate the wood near the suspicious area.

Carpenter Ants Cleanse and polish their nests and push out debris (shavings, frass) through the holes. Use a screwdriver to investigate the wood near the suspicious area.

Carpenter Ant Inspection Guide

Inspection Tips:
Carpenter ants can cause extensive damage in homes and other structures and they are also known to infest damaged trees. Finding the areas where carpenter ants are nesting can help you to get rid of the colony quickly. Here are some basic tips for Inspection:

  1. The best time for inspection is at night when carpenter ants are actively foraging.
  2. Do not give up inspection just because you have located a single colony; there may in fact be several colonies throughout the structure.
  3. Prime areas for inspection include any wooden structures where high moisture content is present, including: window and door frames, tub and well enclosure walls, kitchen and bath plumbing walls.
  4. The use of a flashlight will aid in locating trails and other signs of carpenter ant damage.
Tools needed:
Bright flashlight