Watch Out for Carpenter Ants This Winter!

December 7, 2020

When people think about what can threaten the wooden parts of their home, termites are usually the first thing that comes to mind. While termites are certainly a fearsome pest, homeowners should also be aware of the threat posed by carpenter ants during winter in Central Illinois.

These little critters love to find refuge to escape the cold, and chances are, your warm and dry house perfectly fits the bill. They can make themselves right at home in no time and, as their name suggests, they’ll make a meal out of the wood that makes up your home’s structure, necessitating expensive repairs. Nip this in the bud by knowing what you’re fighting and which early signs of damage you should be looking for.

Carpenter ants 101

The first thing to know about carpenter ants in winter in Central Illinois is that they don’t actually eat wood like termites do. Instead, they chew through it to create the space for their burrows and nesting areas. They’re also noticeably large for ants, often between 3/8” and 5/8” long, typically with black and dark red coloring. They like to go for the low-hanging fruit when it comes to picking wood, which means they won’t typically look for pieces that are healthy and structurally cohesive. Instead, they prefer wood that’s been damaged by dry rot or moisture, since this is easier for them to get started on as they make their home.

Spotting carpenter ants

If you think you might have carpenter ants in your house in Central Illinois, there are some telltale signs you can watch for. First of all, their burrowing produces a lot of wood byproduct as they chew through beams and studs. You’re likely to see piles of shavings, also called “frass,” near their points of entry.

Carpenter ants, like most animals, like to go dormant in cold weather when they’re in nature. However, your home represents a golden opportunity for them. They have a ready supply of shelter, warmth and food and will likely take advantage of this to work right through the winter, potentially causing massive damage to your home’s framing.

Preventing a carpenter ant infestation

The best way to prevent carpenter ants is to never let them into the house at all. Since they prefer wood that’s in poor condition, be sure to keep all wood pieces of your home in good shape and promptly replace any that are in disrepair. You should also look for cracks in your home’s foundation, which make it easy for carpenter ants to enter the house and get established during winter in Central Illinois. Finally, make sure items like brush, branches and firewood aren’t too close to your home—they can create pathways for ants to enter the house.

Pest prevention is not just an activity for warmer weather, and if you think your house is under siege, it’s important to first understand what you’re fighting off. Fighting back against bugs and critters is our life’s work at Crist Termite and Pest Solutions, Inc. If you think you have a carpenter ant problem on your hands, call us today!

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