At Advanced Wildlife Control, we get plenty of calls throughout the year pertaining to ants in people’s homes, outside or may be causing irreversible damage. Whatever the case may be, ants are a primary and very common nuisance in Wisconsin homes all year round.

Although there are many different types of ants, there are four common types of small ants that invade people’s homes here in Wisconsin. These small ants include the field ant, the pavement ant, the pharaoh ant and the thief ant. Although these small ants generally do not cause any damage to people or structures, they can be extremely frustrating to deal with when they start taking up residence inside our homes as unwelcome guests. Ants tend to set up their colonies and nests near a good food and water source and for this reason, the kitchen and bathroom are the most common places to find these types of ants.

Another very common but damage-ensuing ant that resides here in Wisconsin is carpenter ants. Carpenter ants can be very destructive little beings if they are not dealt with in a proper and quick manner. In nature, these ants usually take up residence in indigenous forests within dead, damp wood such as decaying trees or old tree stumps. The carpenter ant is very helpful in this setting as they help to excavate wood in forests which then aids in forest decomposition. On the other hand, they are not-so-helpful when it comes to living in and around people’s homes.

Carpenter ants, despite popular belief, do not ingest wood but instead, cut into the wood grain to create living quarters and safe passageways for their colony to thrive in. These hollowed out sections are called “galleries”. The carpenter ants use these galleries to get from one part of the nest to the other. This can be very concerning to homeowners that have decaying wood in or around their homes such as damp wood piles, wooden beams/internal structure, siding, sheds or decks. Other areas where carpenter ants are often seen around the house include around or under windows, roof eaves and porches as these areas are also very vulnerable to moisture. Carpenter ants can severely weaken these structures and in turn, wreak havoc in the areas that they infest.

Carpenter ants can be very difficult to get rid of as there is often a few different nests depending on how long the problem with them has been occurring. The colonies typically include a central “parent” colony surrounded and supplemented by smaller “satellite” colonies. Satellite nests only appear once the primary nest or parent colony has been established and begun to mature.

Identifying carpenter ants and the damage that they cause can be difficult as they sometimes take up residence that is not easily accessible. There are a few clues you can look for around your homes to identify if you have carpenter ants. Since carpenter ants do not actually ingest the wood they are hollowing out, they often leave behind a saw-dust like material called “frass”. This is usually the first thing that people notice other than the ants themselves as they can be quite large in size. Carpenter ants themselves can be identified by the general presence of one upward protruding node. It almost resembles a “spike” at the “waist” attachment between the thorax and abdomen. If you are unsure whether you have carpenter ant damage or termite damage, you can easily distinguish it from one or the other as they are both very different in looks. Carpenter ant galleries are smooth whereas termite damage will be rough and have mud packed into the hollowed out and damaged areas.

Controlling and exterminating carpenter ants usually involves a few different methods. It includes an application of insecticides in various forms such as liquids and dusts.Each insecticide is administered differently so that the colony is attacked from different vantage points. The dusts are administered directly into the galleries and voids where the carpenter ants are living whereas, the liquids are usually sprayed and applied in areas where foraging ants are likely to pick up the material and spread the poison back to the colony upon returning to the nest.