It is estimated that there are 24 carpenter ant species in the United States that present a pest problem. The most economically important carpenter ant species are identified as black carpenter ants. In Texas, black carpenter ants are not commonly found in urban or suburban areas. Therefore, your Austin property might not be at risk for serious carpenter ant damage. So what should you do about these ants on your property? Let's take a look at a few factors to consider.
Black Carpenter Ant Activity
The first factor that can put your Austin property at risk is having black carpenter ants in your yard. Makes sense, right? If you notice large black ants that have major and minor workers, they could be black carpenter ants. You can collect an ant or two with a piece of tape and take a closer look. If you measure an ant and it is more than half an inch long, there is little doubt that it is a carpenter ant. All other black ants in Austin are smaller than this. You can also use magnification to see if the ant you've collected has one node between the thorax and abdomen. While carpenter ants aren't the only ants with one node, knowing that the ant you've found has only one node will help you better determine if it is a carpenter ant. If you have black carpenter ants in your yard, you should take steps to reduce your chances of having them get inside your home and damage your property.
All carpenter ants are attracted to yards that have available food sources, and they are likely to become a problem for Austin property owners that have conducive conditions for habitation. While it is important to remove food sources and conducive conditions when you detect carpenter ants, it's a good idea to do these things even when you don't detect them.
What Carpenter Ants Eat — A carpenter ant colony may focus on sweets, meats, or a mixture of both. Natural sweet food sources are honeydew, nectar, fruit, berries, sweet vegetables in gardens, and honey. Sweet sources of sustenance you might make available for these ants are sugar water in hummingbird feeders, sweet foods in your trash, or juice cups left outside. Natural protein sources for carpenter ants are primarily bugs. Protein sources you might put out for these ants are meats in your trash or pet food put down outside for your pets. Refrain from making food and sweet liquids available, and protect sources of sustenance that ants target.
Where Carpenter Ants Live — If you have stumps, logs, dying trees, or some other natural location for carpenter ants to hide, this can put your property at risk. Remove these if possible. A few of the harborage sources you may provide for carpenter ants are scrap wood, piles of dead branches, campfire wood, and wood pallets. Keep wood up off the ground to make it less attractive to carpenter ants for harborage.
Decaying Wood — Pay particular attention to any areas of your home where there is decaying wood. Carpenter ants will target an old fence, rotting skirting, deck boards, and other sources of decaying wood. Once inside the wood of a structure, black carpenter ants can go from soft, decaying wood to firm, sound structural wood. When you remove and repair areas of your home where rot has begun, you make it far less likely that carpenter ants will get into your home and cause damage.
While carpenter ants can chew tunnels in order to get inside your home, they can also exploit a tiny gap or crack and then damage the wood inside your home. Seal potential entry points to prevent this from happening. Inspect your exterior doors and make sure all weatherstripping, doors sweeps, molding, and frames are properly sealed.
When Black Carpenter Ants Appear Inside
You needn't be fearful of these ants. They're not going to wreck your home overnight. But it is a good idea to reach out to Bella Bugs and request a pest control inspection to determine the extent of your carpenter ant problem. Our licensed pest professionals have the training and experience to track carpenter ant activity and provide you with essential information to help you protect your property from damage.
For more information about carpenter ants in our Austin area, or to schedule service for your property, connect with Bella Bugs today. We're here to assist you with all of your Texas pest concerns. While carpenter ants aren't as big a threat here as they are in other parts of the country, they still have the potential to cause damage, if you let them. Our advice is that you don't let them.