MN Pest Control | Carpenter Ants

As we welcome the warmer weather, we urge homeowners in Minnesota to do the same with caution.  As the weather continues to get warmer, pests perk up and you can expect an increase in the number of ants in and around your home. If you are not prepared you may find yourself combating these tiny terrors instead of sitting by the pool.

Continued from Part 1

What To Do About Ants!

Ants enter our homes, buildings and properties in search of food, warmth and security. It is almost impossible to keep them out! But the rule of thumb is: when you start to notice them or signs of their presence, you have a problem and need to take action.

Wherever you go, ants are the number #1 pest problem in the country and are also one of the most difficult pests to treat. Carpenter ants are among the largest and most common ants in Minnesota.  During the summer time it is a common to see an ant or a line of ants making their way across the kitchen floor or even the patio as they forage for food.  Trash and other remnants from summertime get-together s can attract these pests to your backyard.

If Carpenter Ants have created nests inside a building or home, they feed on sugars and sources of protein, such as syrup, honey, some fruits, granulated sugar and meat.  If you see even one or two an evening inside your home, you likely have a nest or at the very least a “scent trail” which others will follow.  Indoors, the ants are often seen near sinks, bathtubs and dishwashers.

Moisture from air conditioner drip lines may attract ants

Gutter downspouts should direct water away from the house

Water is also important to the ants. Outdoors, you will often find ants collecting water dripping from water spigots,gutter downspouts or air conditioner drain lines. If found outside, Carpenter Ants feed on insects both living and dead.  If not treated immediately, the number of nests will increase dramatically and they become more difficult to get rid of.

Signs of an Infestation

There are several indications of an infestation:

Swarmers – The appearance of swarmersindoors is a likely indication of a nest in or under the house. Winged ants will emerge from around baseboards, window casings, vents or other openings in floors or walls, and will often congregate around windows. Swarmers found outdoors on porches, siding or around windows are merely a sign of a nearby colony, which is most likely located outdoors. However, it is well worth the effort to inspect your home for other signs of ant activity.

Workers – Beginning in early spring, worker ants will often be found foraging for water around bathroom/kitchen sinks, dishwashers or showers. Foraging activity is usually greater at night when the lights are off, but you will find ants during the daytime, as well. In some cases, you may be able to trace the insects back outdoors where they are traveling to and from a nearby nest. With extensive foraging, you will find trails that the ants maintain clear of debris. These trails may extend up to 300 feet from the nest.

Noise – With mature colonies infesting a house, you can actually hear rustling or gnawing sounds coming from the wood or void where they are nesting.

Carpenter ant frass – Carpenter ant nesting debris – Carpenter ants produce a coarse fiber-like frass and debris that usually includes insect body parts (yellow arrows)

Sawdust – A common misconception about Carpenter Ants is that they eat wood; they do not.  Carpenter Ants make hollow trails in wood to nest in. As the ants expand their nest, they throw out piles of fiber-like wood debris and frass (fecal material). Debris with a dark appearance is likely an indication of decaying wood, and can be used as a clue in searching for the nest.

The frass may have a sawdust-like appearance, but will also contains the remnants of ants and other insects on which the colony has been feeding. If you see hollow spaces or tunnels in your wood and there is no “frass”, or sawdust, left behind, you may have a Carpenter Ant problem.

Carpenter ants hollow out sections of wood in which they are nesting – Wood that is damaged by carpenter ants

Damage – wood that is damaged by carpenter ants may have slit-like openings through which the ants expel the sawdust and frass. The galleries will usually follow the wood grain, with the softer “springwood” portion of the annual rings being excavated first.

Tunnels through the harder summerwood connect these galleries. The gallery walls will be relatively smooth, resembling drywood termite damage. However, the galleries of drywood termites are usually filled with small, hard, seed-like fecal pellets that do not resemble the wood fiber debris that carpenter ants remove from their galleries. Wood damaged by subterranean termites also has excavated areas, but the gallery walls have a coating of a mud-like fecal material.

Looking at the sawn tree and the inside of a stud partition below gives some idea of the damage that can be done.

Carpenter ant nest

Carpenter ant damage

 Carpenter Ant Control

The first step in controlling ants in and around your home is knowing what type of ant it is. It is important to try to determine whether the ants are coming from an outdoor or an indoor nest, although this can be difficult. This is important because baits are generally the best option for control, but different ants have different food preferences. Additionally some ants rarely enter homes or only do so singly, so placing bait inside will do little to get rid of ants that are living outdoors.

If you think you may have a Carpenter Ant problem, call a professional Minnesota Pest Control Expert for a free consultation and they will diagnose your problem immediately.  They can tell you which type of ant you have, and treat for that type with the appropriate treatments.


Also worth mentioning, wildlife such as raccoons, squirrels, and skunks tend to be more active in summer and may attempt to use your property for their enjoyment or to raise their young.  Securing trash cans with tight fitting lids, feeding pets indoors and removing bird feeders can help make your home less attractive to these critters.

Please visit our website for the next installment in the “Carpenter Ant” series. 

Pest Removal & Insect Extermination MN
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