Due to our wet, cool spring the typical abundance of carpenter ant swarms we normally experience in April or May in Western Washington was delayed quite a bit. Whitworth Pest Solutions really began to experience a surge in calls beginning in late June and July. We’re still getting many calls now as we head into mid-August. The following is a short common FAQ on Carpenter Ants. The take-home message here is: be on the lookout for carpenter ants and DEFINITELY do not turn a blind eye to common ant sightings inside. This could be a sign of a serious problem and should not be ignored.

WHAT DO CARPENTER ANTS LOOK LIKE?

They are the largest black ants occurring in Washington State.  Workers range in size from 1/8”-3/4” and are solid black or their midsection may be reddish brown.  Female swarmers are winged and up to 1” long.

WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?

Carpenter ants are abundant in wooded areas where they live in hollow trees and fallen logs.  In the spring, swarmers fly from the woods to search for new nest sites.  Often, when woods are cleared for new construction sites, the displaced ants will invade the new buildings, whether they’re homes or businesses. The most common way nests are established is when worker ants swarm from parent colonies and migrate into buildings to form satellite nests.

 

I ONLY SEE A FEW ANTS PER DAY, SO WHY SHOULD I WORRY?

Occasional winged ants may just be wandering in, but if you regularly see wingless workers, they are gathering food for a colony and a nest must be nearby.  Most ants stay in the nest and only 1-5 percent of the colony ever leaves it.  For every worker you see, there may be 99 more in the nest.

 

I ONLY SEE ANTS DURING THE SPRING. DO I NEED TO WORRY?

Carpenter ants are extremely active during the spring and become more secretive during the summer, fall and winter.  Their apparent disappearance during much of the year is typical of established nests when workers begin foraging outdoors.

HOW DO I TELL IF MY HOME (OR BUSINESS) IS INFESTED WITH THEM?

If you regularly see large black ants in the kitchen or bathroom, you probably have a carpenter ant nest somewhere inside.  If you see ants regularly along the foundation, sidewalks or patio, you have a nest nearby, possibly inside.

ARE CARPENTER ANTS REALLY A SERIOUS PROBLEM?

Yes, they are the most common wood-destroying insect in the Pacific Northwest. Carpenter ants can chew into the major structural timbers of your home (or business-they don’t discriminate) while building their nests and runways.  If ignored, they may cause serious damage, costing you thousands of dollars in structural repairs. For this reason, Whitworth Pest Solutions will take an aggressive approach (when required) when treating a building. We’ve seen what they can do when they’re ignored: