Carpenter ants are large black, brown, or reddish ants that get their name from their habit of excavating galleries in wood, where they lay their eggs and raise their young.
There are two species of carpenter ants commonly found in Southeastern Texas: the Pennsylvania carpenter ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus, which is a big, usually black ant and is shown here), and the Florida carpenter ant (Camponotus floridanus), which is more reddish in color. Both species, over time, can cause significant damage to wooden structures.
Unlike termites, carpenter ants don't eat wood. They just excavate galleries in it to raise their young. They prefer wood that has already been water damaged, such as roof eaves and soffits. But they also can be found nesting in other suitable voids, such as door and window frames, hollow window shade rollers, metal fence posts, PVC furniture, and the gap between the bricks and the framing of brick-face buildings.
Carpenter ant colonies are highly organized, and most of the members are workers. Worker carpenter ants spend most of their time walking between the nest and food sources, foraging for food. They eat a wide variety of foods including honeydew made by aphids, other sugary liquids like nectar, insects, food scraps dropped by humans, pet food, and pretty much anything else that has nutritional value. Their feeding habits change with the current needs of the colony, so foragers will sometimes prefer sweets, and at other times prefer fats and proteins.
Their hardiness and the difficulty of finding and treating their nests make carpenter ant extermination a job for professionals. Most over-the-counter sprays are ineffective against carpenter ants because the ants will simply find ways around the treated areas.
We use a variety of methods to control carpenter ants, depending on each individual job. No one method is the "best" in all cases. For maximum effectiveness, the treatment for each home must be tailored to the situation.
The treatment methods we use to treat carpenter ants include sprays, baits, dusts, and direct treatment of wood or structural voids. We also inspect for and alert you to moisture problems. Until moisture problems such as sweating pipes, faulty rain gutters, or leaky roofs are fixed, it's probably not going to be possible to eradicate a carpenter ant problem. (Besides, the moisture causes damage in its own right -- usually far more than the ants do, in fact.)
We'll also let you know if there's anything else you need to do to help prevent reinfestation, such as removing organic mulch or trimming back overhanging tree branches. Our goal is long-lasting carpenter control, and we can't do it all with insecticides.
Please contact us for a prompt inspection and consultation about carpenter ants or any pest problem.