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How to Know if I Have Carpenter Ants?

Make no mistake about it –  carpenter ants can cause a lot of damage – sometimes more than termites. It is better to fix the problem now than to wait and have more damage. If you think you might have them, read on. The information below covers how to tell if you have carpenter ants.

If you determine that you have an infestation, you should get rid of the ants as soon as possible. If these pests are found and treated early, the damage can be stopped. If you wait, the damage will only get worse – they don’t “just go away.”


Carpenter Ant Damage

These large ants can really do a huge amount of damage! They are wood-destroying insects, and it’s recommended that you contact Green Giant, a professional pest control company whose pricing is much less expensive than repairing damage at your home!

These ants constantly work to hollow out wood. They will either make new nests or expand the size of existing nests. The damage can be a threat to the structural stability of a home or building.

Thousands of dead carpenter ants we found in pillars supporting a porch roof in Sinking Spring
Thousands of dead carpenter ants we found in pillars supporting a porch roof in Sinking Spring

Carpenter Ants in Sinking Spring


What Do Carpenter Ants Look Like?

Size and Color

These big black ants are huge – they are the largest ants in Pennsylvania. They can be ½-inch long.

They are mostly black and brown but can also have some yellow and red markings, or a combination of these colors.

Close-up of carpenter ants

To be sure if you have this type of ant problem, look a little closer. Your sense of urgency should be much higher if you have carpenter ants (or termites) than if you have an infestation of non-wood-damaging ants – such as Pavement Ants, Pharaoh Ants, or Crazy Ants.


Other Features to Help Identify Carpenter Ants

They have heart-shaped heads. The heads are large and round at the top and come to a point at the “mouth” (look at the ant in the foreground, and you’ll see what we mean). Other types of ants in Pennsylvania have round heads.

If the ants you are seeing have the traits noted above, including heart-shaped heads, you can now be certain that you’re looking at carpenter ants.



Not sure which kind of pest problem you have?

Here’s how to find out if you have termites or ants.


What are the Signs of Carpenter Ants in Your House?

  • The most obvious sign of an infestation is when you see large ants in your house. But that doesn’t mean the nest is nearby – it could be several hundred feet away.
  • If the ant infestation is severe, a faint rustling sound could indicate they’re inside woodwork or walls.
  • If you see an ant emerging from walls, ceilings, or other crevices (including points of entry like vents, foundations, cracks, pipes, and wires) – an infestation is very likely.
  • The “saw dust” these pests make can also be a warning sign of activity. You will typically see a small pile(s) of sawdust.


Why are These Pests in My House?

Carpenter ants do NOT eat the wood that they damage. They need wood to build their nests. These big ants are like miniature groundhogs – they “excavate” soft wood to create open voids to build their nests. Their food is typically from sugar and protein, and they are attracted to any bits of fruit, sweets, or crumbs that they find.

These ants may find their way indoors in search of damp conditions, which are often caused by a leaking pipe, roof leak, or water that has seeped in from outside. When they find damp wood in your house, they’ll thank you – by building a new nest!

Carpenter ant colonies often have multiple nests – a “Parent Nest” and “Satellite Nests.” Indoor nests are most often satellite nests of the parent nest.

The parent nest is most often outside and could be in a woodpile, a living or dead tree, other wood, or even in the ground. These nests can be over 100 yards away from each other. Killing one satellite nest will help your problem, but it will not eliminate all the nests. Therefore, you should continue to watch for signs of a re-infestation.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ant damage to a post in the basement of a house in Exeter Pennsylvania
Carpenter Ant damage to a post in the basement of a house in Exeter Pennsylvania

Are My Trees at Risk?


It is very common to see ants climbing up and down trees. Some ants are perfectly harmless, and others can be a problem. These ants can damage a tree. They will build nests and colonize in a tree with wet, decaying wood. However, the activity of these ants can inhibit the tree’s ability to heal itself, leading to a more rapid decline in the tree’s health.

The bigger concern is that the ants could get into your house and cause structural damage. If the ants can get into your house, they will start looking for damp wood, and that’s when the damage begins.


How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

If you determined you have a problem with carpenter ants, what do you do? Due to the amount of damage these pests can cause (and may have already caused), the best option may be to contact a pest control company. However, there are Do-It-Yourself options.

If you have not yet found the nest, watch where the ants are going. (keep in mind that these ants are nocturnal). Follow the ants to determine where they enter and exit their nest. This can be tricky, but finding the nest will help your chances of success. If you don’t get rid of the nest, the ants will come back.

Carpenter ants can be treated with a “non-repellant” insect spray. Non-repellant products are not detected by the ants, making them more effective. If an ant-repellant product is used, the ants will avoid the insecticide and find another way into your house.

The treatments can be “barrier” treatments – where the perimeter of your house is treated. Treating the ground where it meets the house and a few feet up the house can be effective for ants that are crawling on the ground.


Look to the Experts

Again, damage from these pests can be extensive, and hiring a professional pest control company may be your best option. At Green Giant Pest Control, we charge $225 for a typical infestation. The price can increase, depending on the severity of the infestation – but most often, it is $225+tax.

Our ant control service includes two visits from a licensed technician. During the first visit, the technician will do the detective work and find the nest. They’ll also determine the best approach to exterminating the nest and perform the service. This will begin to eliminate the colony. It takes up to a week for the worker ants to move the material to the rest of the colony.

During the second visit, the technician will inspect and, if necessary, provide any additional treatment. We will get rid of your big ants! Our services are guaranteed.

Contact Green Giant today!