This customer had an infestation of carpenter ants. Due to the fact the client has a crawl space (used only for storage) the ants went un-noticed for months. This gave the insects plenty of time to dig deeply into the exterior structure of the home. The exterior wall infected was approx 30 feet in length; and the rim board which supports the main floor, and rests on the sill plate located on the foundation wall. The access point for the ants was at the point where the foundation wall met the sill plate. This happen to be level with the driveway outside the home.

The Solution…

First all of the ants needed to be terminated. Then the damage was assessed by Trinity and a structural engineer. The rim board has to be removed in four foot increments due to the fact it was a load bearing exterior wall. The new rim board was doubled for strength, cement board was installed in place of the standard osb board, and then blue skin was added (one foot above and one foot below grade) for water proofing. Then the exterior house wrap and siding was reinstalled.

What to watch for…

Flying ants in the home are rarely a good sign, and this is particularly true if they are seen indoors during the winter. Finding a winged ant or two indoors during the summer does not necessarily mean there is a problem, but if winged ants are seen in the home during the winter months, there is a strong likelihood that there is a carpenter ant nest within the structure. However, according to the University of Minnesota, carpenter ants can be distinguished from termites by their:

  • dark-colored bodies;
  • narrow waists;
  • elbowed (bent) antennae;
  • hind wings being shorter than front wings.

Additionally, carpenter ants are more likely to be seen out in the open than are termites. While both carpenter ants and termites can be very destructive to structures, the two species differ in that fact that termites eat the wood in which they tunnel, while carpenter ants only nest in it; they do not eat it. Thus another distinguishing factor of carpenter ants is the frass (wood dust, soil, and insect parts) that is often found beneath openings to the nest.

Carpenter Ant Treatment

If the carpenter ants have built their nest indoors, it is best treated with an insecticide. One option is the use of insecticidal dust, labeled for carpenters ants and for indoor household use, injected into the area(s) in which the ants are nesting. If access is difficult, it may be necessary to drill small holes through which the dust can be injected.