Most of the ants you find in homes are small, less than 1/4", and brown. There are several species of small brown ants that can nest in our home's walls or nearby soil and enter homes in search of food and water (see House Ants for identification and control). Nuisance ants are just that, a nuisance. They won't damage your home and pose no health threat of any kind.
There's another ant, however, that occasionally is found in homes that is much bigger (1/4"-5/8"), darker in color, nests in the walls, floors and ceiling and can cause significant structural damage if not treated properly. People's first reaction often is "what are these BIG black ants in my home?" These are the carpenter ants and they can destroy the materials (structural wood, insulation, sheathing and so forth) that surround their nests. Thousands of dollars in home damage can be caused by a single carpenter ant nest as it grows.
|Winged (left) and wingless (right) carpenter ants|
You may also find carpenter ants with wings (see photo above). These are the so called "reproductives" that start new colonies. Since this stage can easily shed their wings the ants you find indoors may have actually flown in through an open window or door.
Once you confirm the workings of a carpenter ant nest in your home (see Inspecting Homes For Carpenter Ants) plan to treat the whole house (see links below). There is no need for "periodic maintenance treatments" advocated by some pest control companies, treat only when you know for sure that there's a problem.
Use the following articles to treat carpenter ant nests around your home. If you are handy you can probably do most of this work yourself, except perhaps repair of existing damage. If you are not so handy take a look at the article below about hiring pest control services.
- How Carpenter Ant Colonies Start
- How To Control Carpenter Ant Nests
- Using Termidor Insecticide To Treat Carpenter Ants
- Hiring Pest Control Services