Carpenter Ants: Facts and Fiction for Homeowners

Carpenter ants are small insects that can cause big problems. As home inspectors, we often come across the signs of carpenter ants in a home and we need to let homeowners know why this could be important. Carpenter ants can damage wooden structures in a home, and their presence usually means you have a problem with water leaking into your home.

We’ve noticed that there is a lot of misunderstanding about these insects, so here are some facts and myths about carpenter ants.

Fact: Carpenter ant colonies are large

Once a colony is mature, it can contain approximately 10-20,000 worker ants, and can reach up to 50,000 ants or more. A colony usually has one queen. There is usually only one functional, wingless queen per colony.

Myth: Carpenter ants eat wood.

Carpenters ants are often confused with termites. Termites eat wood; carpenter ants do not eat wood but will chew on the wood to make tunnels in your home. They create galleries in the wood to build their nests. Once a colony is established, it grows by replicating itself. As the colony expands, they need more room and will tunnel into more wood and this can cause damage to certain wooden elements in the home.

Fact: Carpenter ants prefer moist and rotting wood

Carpenter ants like to build their nests in hollow areas and inside moist and rotting wood, or areas that already have structural damage. They like cool, damp areas like kitchen, bathrooms. They are often found in wood that has been damaged by leaks, such as chimneys, door and window frames, crawlspaces under roofs, and areas near plumbing and near windows and doors. It is easier to tunnel through damaged, most and rotting wood.

Myth: Carpenter ants are dangerous

Carpenter ants can bite hard enough to break skin, but the good news is that they do not spread diseases or infections.  

Myth: Home made remedies are effective at preventing eliminating carpenter ants.

As a rule, a carpenter ant infestation is one where you should call in an expert. Common suggestions for prevention include using vinegar, cinnamon or lemons to form a barrier to your property.  While these are all scents that ants do not like, they will still be able to find ways into your home, such as doorways, overgrown trees, shrubs and utility wires. Some home remedies include pouring boiling water over the ants, but this will not kill the colony.

How do you avoid carpenter ant infestations?

There are several things homeowners can do to avoid carpenter ant infestations:

  • Check your plants including shrubs and trees. Make sure you trim back any of the branches or plants so they do not touch your structure.
  • Inspect for any moisture issues, including leaks in your roof or plumbing and correct them.
  • Seal any cracks you find in your structure to avoid potential entry points
  • Keep firewood far away from your building as carpenter ants love building nests in firewood.
  • Check that your downspouts and gutters are diverting water away from your home to prevent a build up of moisture.
  • Be aware that oftentimes an interior nest is just a satellite nest of the main colony that is located outside.

From a home inspection point of view, a homeowner needs to know whether there might be damage to wooden elements in a home, such as window frames, but more importantly, a homeowner should be looking for the source of water infiltration to avoid further damage.  A home inspector knows where to look for vulnerable areas and can identify the source of the water problem. Remember that Mose Home Inspection believes you need to know everything about your home.

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Lay Chan Wee
Lay Chan Wee
01:19 31 Aug 21
I was impressed with the service provided by Rui Su. He was organized, explained in detail area that I am not familiar... with. He provided a good report. I will recommend him if you need home inspection.read more
Mary Jane Caro
Mary Jane Caro
14:25 27 Aug 21
I am always pleased to recommend Carol Mose from Mose Home Inspection Services to my clients who have had offers... accepted on residential real estate properties. She is knowledgeable, thorough, provides clear explanations, and delivers comprehensive reports.read more
Massimo Pannunzio
Massimo Pannunzio
22:05 25 Aug 21
Michael has got to be on of the best home inspectors in all of Quebec. It was amazing working with him and he had my... best interest at heart when making a life changing decision. He made sure I had all the answers and made it easy to work with him. I will be using Mose inspection for any moment that I need an inspection done that's for sure!read more
Amanda Lee
Amanda Lee
19:14 16 Jun 21
Amazing experience with Carol Mose who helped me with a pre-purchase inspection! She was very approachable and... observant, and informed me of all her first impressions on-site. This gave me greater understanding of any conditions as I was able to ask any quick questions on the spot. Her reports are the most thorough that I've seen and include diagrams to help explain what any physical signs mean and potential consequences. Could not have asked for a better inspector!read more
Maeghan Banks
Maeghan Banks
15:38 14 Jun 21
Carol was wonderful to work with for our pre-purchase inspection. She was professional, thorough and communicative,... taking the time to explain her findings as we went through the house. After the inspection, we felt we had clear knowledge of the condition of the house (both pros and cons), allowing us to move forward with the purchase with confidence. Highly recommend!read more
Ryan Chalupovitsch
Ryan Chalupovitsch
13:43 01 Jun 21
Carol Mose is the best home inspector in the business. Approachable and extremely knowledgeable. She did an... inspection for me and really took the time to explain her findings and help me understand the home I was looking to purchase. Cannot recommend her enough. Don’t hesitate.read more
Elisabeth Faure
Elisabeth Faure
21:16 29 Apr 21
This is the second time I have used MOSE, and they are always really amazing. Very nice, very professional. they came... to have a look at my roof and let me know if we were due for a repair - I was very satisfied with everything and would recommend them to anybody!read more
Hannah S
Hannah S
22:05 16 Apr 21
I had a great experience with Mose home inspection. My husband and I are first time homebuyers and so had a ton of... questions about the process. Everyone we talked with was really informative and helpful. Michael was our inspector and was phenomenal. The inspection was very thorough and he explained everything in detail with realistic next steps for us to take. We came out of the inspection feeling really informed. Plus, he is just an absolute delight! He had very contagious enthusiasm and made the inspection a really positive experience. Would highly recommend!read more
Gabriel Lukuc
Gabriel Lukuc
03:05 16 Apr 21
Michael was amazing. He took the time to explain to us what’s really important and the reasoning behind it. We’re not... very handy nor savvy when it comes to home construction so we really appreciate him taking the time to explain to us all aspects of the inspection. Also, Michael was friendly, professional and timely; he provided the report over a holiday and a weekend.read more
Stephanie Ballard
Stephanie Ballard
14:24 19 Mar 21
MOSE is the best in the business. Once again we were happy with their inspection services - they are professional,... friendly and knowledgeable. Would not hesitate to recommend to friends and family (and have)!read more
Rodrigo Morales
Rodrigo Morales
18:27 10 Sep 20
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