While carpenter ants are wood-destroying insects, unlike termites, they are not wood consuming insects. Ants don’t have the special bacteria in their guts necessary to digest wood as food. The “carpenter” in carpenter ants refers to what they do: chew and tunnel through wood to create a network of smooth passageways (called “galleries”) for building and expanding their nest.
It is important to locate the infestation of carpenter ants early. Carpenter ants prefer water-damaged, decaying, mold-infested wood. It is much easier to bore holes and carve passageways that allow for travel through the wood that offers little resistance. It is not uncommon for carpenter ants to take over wood that has already been damaged by termites. However, they will sometimes begin to build paths into dry, undamaged wood in your home with the potential for property and foundation damage.
Carpenter ants cause damage to urban shade trees. In a New Jersey study, 75% of urban shade trees were infested with carpenter ants. Silver maple was the most frequently infested tree. When infesting trees, the ants are taking advantage of preexisting soft, weak wood to establish their colony. Insects, disease, or drought conditions allow wood rot to set in, resulting in wood decay, giving the ants the opportunity to colonize the tree. Carpenter ants infest a tree that already has wood decay. Carpenter ants don’t cause the decay and they do no further harm to the tree. There is no need for any treatment unless there are indications that the ants are entering homes from nearby tree colonies. In fact, there is always the risk that by treating the trees, the ants will migrate to another location – and that location may be the nearby home. When carpenter ants are found in trees, it is usually best to leave them alone and instead employ a perimeter treatment around the home to keep the ants where they belong – outside.
Do you have an issue with carpenter ants in Edison, Woodbridge, Lakewood, Fair Haven, Asbury Park, Jackson, New Brunswick, Perth Amboy, East Brunswick, Howell or nearby New Jersey? Contact the pest control professionals at Cowleys Pest Services for a free service estimate.