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In Houston, there are certain carpenter ants that can present a threat to property. It is important to be aware of this threat and take appropriate actions to address these ants when you see them. We're going to start off this carpenter ant-prevention article with how you can properly identify destructive carpenter ants and the warning signs carpenter ants provide.

Big Black Ants

The most destructive carpenter ant species in Houston is the black carpenter ant. While not the only species that can damage your property, they're the worst. Here are a few ways you can identify black carpenter ants.

  • Black carpenter ants, which are known scientifically as Camponotus sp., are entirely black. Unfortunately, they're not the only black ants you might find on your property.

  • Black carpenter ants are big. Workers ants can be as much as ⅝ of an inch long. Unfortunately, there are major and minor workers in a black carpenter ant colony. Minor workers are small enough to be mistaken for other black ant species that won't damage your home.

  • Black carpenter ants have one node between the thorax and abdomen. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to see this node as even large carpenter ants are relatively small insects.

  • Winged reproductive black carpenter ants are the easiest to identify as they can be more than an inch long. If you see giant black ants with wings, there is little doubt that you have a black carpenter ant infestation, particularly if you see them on the inside of your home. Unfortunately, winged reproductives can emerge on the outside of your home and go undetected.

Carpenter Ant Warning Signs

Most of the time, you're not going to see black carpenter ants. They have a preference for nocturnal behavior, and they tend to stay in shaded areas if they come out during the day. Therefore, the best way to protect your Houston property is to recognize the warning signs.

  • Black carpenter ants produce a material called frass. This is a mixture of sawdust, droppings, and insect parts. Unfortunately, frass isn't always pushed out into areas where it can be seen. Carpenter ant workers can push frass out into wall, ceiling, and floor voids, or other hidden places.

  • Black carpenter ants create kickout holes. These are the holes that carpenter ants create to evacuate frass from their tunnels. Unfortunately, kickout holes are tiny. If you don't examine wood closely, they're easy to miss. They're also likely to be created in places that are dark, such as underneath a deck or porch.

  • Black carpenter ants damage wood. They have a preference for wood that is decaying. You might notice holes in window and door frames. These can be an obvious sign. Unfortunately, wood holes can be created by mice, rats, and other pests. Carpenter ants aren't the only pests that make holes, so a wood hole is not conclusive evidence that the pest you're dealing with is carpenter ants. On top of this, the vast majority of the damage carpenter ants do is on the inside of wood. It isn't easy to detect these extensive galleries before it is too late to prevent costly repair jobs.

  • Winged black carpenter ants can be an obvious warning sign. As we pointed out above, these big, winged ants can be quite noticeable, especially when they swarm. Unfortunately, this is not a warning sign that will help you protect your property from damage. It takes years for a carpenter ant nest to produce winged reproductives. That's years that these ants will be allowed to damage your property.

Carpenter Ant Prevention Tips

When carpenter ants come onto your property, your goal should be to give those ants little reason to stay. Here are a few tips to help you make your property less inviting to these destructive ants.

  • Address aphids and other plant-damaging insects. These insects produce honeydew, and honeydew is a preferred food source for carpenter ants. They love honeydew so much, carpenter ant workers have been observed corralling and protecting aphids to safeguard this food source.

  • Routinely remove trash from your yard to avoid having smells that attract carpenter ants.

    Move birdfeeders to at least 20 feet from your exterior. Carpenter ants are drawn to feeders, particularly the sugar water in hummingbird feeders.

  • Remove wood piles, branches, and other organic debris. Carpenter ants love these. If you have a pile of wood that you use for campfires, consider creating something to stack the wood on. This keeps it off the ground.

  • Remove logs, stumps, and trees with heart rot.

  • Address rotting wood fencing, sheds, decks, and other exterior structures.

The Best Protection For Carpenter Ants In Houston

It pays to have routine inspections and targeted treatments performed by a licensed pest management professional. If you'd like the best possible protection for your property, reach out to All-Safe Pest & Termite. Our residential pest control services don't just protect Houston residents from pest-related health threats, they provide essential protection for property. Get your property protected today. 

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