Dealing with Carpenter Ant Damage in Knoxville

A carpenter ant in Knoxville TN - Russell's Pest Control

Carpenter ants might not be able to cause as much damage as termites in Knoxville TN, but they come with their own quirks that make them a hassle to deal with. One of the advantages that carpenter ants have over termites is that they don’t have to leave the building—they tunnel through walls to build nests as well as pathways. Because they split off to make new nests all throughout our buildings, it can be especially difficult to get rid of a carpenter ant infestation on your own. Read on for Russell’s Pest Control’s advice on dealing with carpenter ant damage.

Finding Carpenter Ant Damage

Because carpenter ants nest inside our walls, it can be hard to discover your infestation until it reaches sizes that can’t be ignored. Carpenter ants will be quick to create satellite nests in different parts of your home or business once their population grows enough to do so. Make sure to be on the lookout for these signs of carpenter ants:

  • Tiny piles of wood shavings
  • Faint rustling noises from your walls
  • Small holes or striated structures in wood beams
  • Winged ants coming in and out of holes in the wall

If you’re finding ants in your house and you’re not sure if they’re carpenter ants or not, check that they are all black in color, ¼-⅜” in length, and have large jaws. You might also see winged carpenter ant swarmers.

What to Do When You Have Carpenter Ant Damage

If you’ve found carpenter ants or evidence of their damage on your property, it’s important to take steps to get rid of them right away to stop any future damage. You might wish to try some of these DIY carpenter ant removal strategies:

  1. Spraying a citrus-scented cleaner, diluted lemon eucalyptus oil, or cinnamon near areas of activity to drive them away
  2. Flushing them out of their nests by pouring soapy water or window cleaner inside
  3. Mixing borax with sugar water to create your own bait trap

The problem with using these techniques is that you can never be sure if you’ve reached every ant in your building, and without doing so, your infestation can quickly build back to dangerous sizes.

Get Help from Carpenter Ant Exterminators

To be 100% certain that all carpenter ants in your building have been eliminated, contact your local pest control company for help. Our ant extermination experts at Russell’s Pest Control have been eliminating carpenter ants from Knoxville TN homes and businesses for more than 45 years. To learn more about how we conduct our professional carpenter ant removal and receive a free quote, contact us today!

5 Tips to Keep Ants Out This Summer

Tips to keep ants out this summer in Knoxville TN - Russell's Pest Control

Ants are any property owner’s worst nightmare. Not only are they simply a nuisance, they’re infamously difficult to get rid of. Infestations in the summertime spike as ants make their way indoors for food and shelter. To avoid the frustration of an ant problem this summer, there are a few things you can do to limit their access indoors. The experts at Russell’s Pest Control have years of experience controlling these pests and is here to share expert tips to keep ants out this summer.

Types of Ants in the Summer

Did you know there are more than 700 species of ants in the United States alone? For that reason, it is crucial to know which one you’re dealing with in order to properly prevent and control them. An infestation from any of these can be a major pain to deal with, making it important to know what you’re coming up against. The most common ants you will come across include:

How to Keep Summertime Ants Out

If you have had ants before, you know that they can suddenly appear seemingly out of nowhere! To avoid letting ants indoors, there are 5 things you can do to make your property less attractive and accessible to them. Our tips to keep ants out this summer include:

  1. Clean your home regularly. Sweep your floors regularly to get rid of crumbs. Ants are attracted to sugary food sources and a few crumbs will keep them coming back for more.
  2. Store all food items properly. Avoid leaving food out uncovered. Keep food in airtight containers or store them safely in cupboards and fridges.
  3. Seal gaps, cracks, and entry holes. Ants can crawl through the tiniest of cracks. Inspect your property and use caulk to seal any gaps, holes, or potential entry ways.
  4. Avoid excess moisture or water. Areas with standing water or leaks will attract ants quickly. Attend to broken pipes and clean up spills quickly.
  5. Trim back trees and vegetation. Plants close to your home can encourage ants to come in. Make sure tree branches, shrubs, and bushes are trimmed away from the perimeter!

Summertime Ants in Knoxville

Pest problems are common in our area during the summer ants. The last thing you have time to deal with is an ant infestation. If you’ve done everything you can to keep ants out and still are noticing the signs of an infestation, it’s time to call the experts at Russell’s. We are committed to providing you with ant-free living all year round.

DIY Pest Control vs. Professional Extermination

Mouse traps are a common DIY pest control method in Knoxville TN. Learn more from Russell's Pest Control.

We’ve all hopped on the DIY bandwagon from time to time. Whether you tried to treat a trail of ants with a vinegar solution or bought a spray from the store for roaches, everyone has tried to get rid of a pest problem on their own from time to time. But how often does it work? If you have a small pest problem, DIY solutions can be a short-term solution. However, for infestations and prevention, a professional exterminator is always the way to go. At Russell’s Pest Control, we want our customers to make well-informed decisions when it comes to protecting their homes from pests. Keep reading to learn the pros and cons of DIY pest control vs. professional extermination.

Does Do-it-Yourself Pest Control Work?

When it comes to getting rid of pests, chances are you want it done quickly and effectively. Unfortunately, DIY methods rarely deliver the outcome you want. Some of the downfalls of do-it-yourself pest control include:

  1. Many store-bought products are filled with chemicals that can be dangerous for you, your family, and your pets. Reading the label doesn’t always guarantee the product will be applied perfectly and safely.
  2. At-home remedies rarely work in the long-term and do not prevent future infestations.
  3. DIY or store-bought products don’t come with a guarantee or warranty as often as professional services, meaning you often have to buy more products.
  4. Certain pests, including rodents, termites, bed bugs, and carpenter ants are more dangerous and destructive. Getting rid of these infestations can be challenging without the help of a professional.

When to Use Professional Extermination

Many people assume they only need to hire a pest control company for serious infestations, but that’s not the case. In fact, an exterminator can work with you year-round to prevent pest problems from starting in the first place! There are many benefits to this option. A professional exterminator has a unique understanding of the habits and behaviors of pests, making them better equipped to control an infestation quickly. You can also rest assured knowing that any pest control products are always applied carefully and efficiently for the safety of your family. Lastly, a pest control expert can work with you to develop a custom pest control plan suited to your unique needs, giving you the protection you need all year long.

Is Professional or DIY Pest Control the Best Option for You?

When it comes to DIY vs.professional pest control, the choice is easier than you think. Although do-it-yourself treatments seem easier, they are often fruitless and require more effort on your end. When you team up with a professional pest control company such as Russell’s, you can be sure we will work to prevent pests in your home year-round. To learn how we can provide you with pest-free* living, contact our team today!

What’s The Difference Between Termites & Carpenter Ants?

Wondering if you have Termites or Carpenter Ants in Knoxville TN? Learn more from Russell's Pest Control!

Although they are both wood-destroying insects, termites and carpenter ants are different in several ways. They may look quite similar as swarmers, and both cause a lot of structural damage, so how do you tell them apart? The easiest way to tell them apart is by their appearance. Termites are responsible for the most destructive pest infestations across the nation, and are dangerous for being silent destroyers, making it important to know what pest you are dealing with.

Keep reading for expert info from the experts at Russell’s Pest Control!

Appearance of a Termite vs. a Carpenter Ant

When they are swarmers, these two insects can look alike. However, there a few key differences to tell them apart:

  1. Carpenter ant swarmers
    • Black in color, with an occasional red tint.
    • Measure 1/2″–5/8″ with antenna bent at a 45-degree angle. Carpenter ants are by far the biggest ant species in the nation.
    • Wings are translucent with a reddish brown hue, laying over the posterior of the ant.
  2. Termite swarmers
    • Very dark brown to black in color, and measure 3/8″ long (including the wings).
    • Wings are a translucent to slightly milky or smoky color.
    • Their wings may overlap, and are typically as long as or slightly longer than the body. This helps differentiate them from carpenter ants.
Winged ant vs termite in Knoxville TN - Russell's Pest Control

Habits of Wood-Destroying Insects

Both carpenter ants and termites can destroy wood. Carpenter ants establish nests in wood that is already in decay, and later expand into sound wood, insulation, or wall voids. When you notice the damaged wood, the galleries they excavate appear to have been sanded. Typically, carpenter ant damage does not amount to the potential damage of a termite infestation.

Termites find their way into a structure around basement windows, doorways, porches, or any other area of the property in contact with soil. Grown colonies can range from 60,000 to over a million workers and can consume nearly 5 grams of wood per day. Needless to say, termites are considerably more dangerous than carpenter ants just by how quickly they can spread!

Termite vs. Carpenter Ant: How to Get Rid of Them

If you notice the signs of either of these insects inside or outside your property, it’s crucial to enlist the help of the experts at Russell’s Pest Control. We have a unique knowledge of the pest problems in Knoxville TN and can keep you safe from wood-destroying insects all year long. Contact our termite exterminators today!

Is My Knoxville Home At Risk For Carpenter Ants?  

Is My Knoxville Home At Risk For Carpenter Ants?  

June is the perfect month to finish the last of your spring cleaning. It’s also a great time to really pay attention to what kind of insects might be living in your house. While you are spring cleaning, carpenter ants are looking to find a brand-new nest. Don’t let them find their next home inside of yours.

Carpenter Ants

There are many species of ants in Tennessee, but carpenter ants can be especially harmful. They are bigger than other house ants and can be black or dark red in color. Carpenter ants have a varied diet, so you might not find them in your kitchen. However, if you do see carpenter ants inside, they may be scouts. They are searching your house to determine how much food and water there is and whether it will be a good place to relocate the colony–or a colony may already exist inside your home. Even one individual carpenter ant can be a sign of trouble, and you should never ignore it.

Once the scouts have inspected your house, you might see swarmers. These are flying ants that emerge during the spring to mate and set up new nests. Carpenter ants build their nests in tunnels of wood. This means that they can cause significant structural damage to a home.

Warning Signs

While you are finishing your spring cleaning and getting ready to enjoy summer, here are some signs that might be an indicator of carpenter ants in your house.

  • A single carpenter ant is a warning. Ants don’t travel very far from their colony, so if you see one ant, there are more nearby.
  • Seeing swarmers is another sign that you might have a problem. Swarmers set up new nests, so if you see flying ants, they might be building a nest somewhere in your house.
  • Even if you don’t see the swarmers themselves, you may see wings left on your windowsills. These wings could be from carpenter ants or termites. Either way, you have a problem.
  • Carpenter ants dig tunnels and discard the wood shavings. This sawdust is called frass and may be mixed with dust and dirt. You won’t always see frass because it could be hidden in crawl spaces, corners of the attic, or dark areas of your basement. If you do see sawdust coming from the walls or ceilings, call pest control immediately.
  • A final warning sign is visible damage to your house. If carpenter ants have been living in your house undetected, you may start to notice the walls are bulging, the ceiling is dipping, or the floor is warped. Doors and windows may also stick and become hard to open.

Preventing Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are first attracted to softwoods, especially wood that has been damaged by water or rot. To prevent a carpenter ant infestation, avoid damp wood and check for leaks, plumbing issues, or spills. Make it hard for carpenter ants to move in by keeping your kitchen clean and never leaving spills or crumbs for the ants to find. Finally, make sure that you don’t have any tree branches touching the roof of your house since this is a common entry point for carpenter ants.

When to Call Russell’s

These prevention tips can make your home less inviting. However, if carpenter ants find their way into your home, you’ll need professional help. Ignoring carpenter ants will lead to significant damage to your home. Call Russell’s Pest Control if you see signs of carpenter ants. They will assess the situation and create a treatment plan to keep your house clear of carpenter ants and protected from their damage. Don’t wait and don’t think you can keep carpenter ants away on your own. Let the professionals help you control the damage and prevent any further problems.

How To Tell If You Have Carpenter Ants

How To Tell If You Have Carpenter Ants

Are you seeing small ants in and around your home? Or small piles of sawdust? You could potentially be dealing with carpenter ants! Those few ants you’re seeing could end up increasing in number fairly quickly. If you aren’t familiar with carpenter ants, you should know that these pests can do some serious structural damage as they make their nests inside the wood—a.k.a your home. These ants are bad news!

Carpenter ant infestations usually start off with a few ants scoping out your property. These are known as “scout” ants. It will be up to them to determine whether your home is fit for the colony to move in. What makes your home attractive to carpenter ants? They need sources of food and water. Carpenter ants also are attracted to damaged or damp wood and will choose these areas as their first location for making a nest. However, they will then move on to dry wood as their colony grows. And they aren’t actually eating the wood, only making nests inside it. So, as for their food, they may rummage through your pantries and food-storage areas to find their meals. Any crumbs or spills will attract them as well.

The sooner you find these ants the better! A carpenter ant infestation that has gone on too long can result in buildings becoming unsafe to live in. They will bite away chunk by chunk with their powerful jaws day after day. With the size of their colonies, it doesn’t take long for the damage to build up. It’s important to know the signs of a carpenter ant infestation.

Signs Carpenter Ants Leave Behind:

  • Seeing the ants inside your home is a sure sign of an infestation. These ants may be black or red, and some could even have wings. Discarded wings could be left behind.
  • Any damaged or decaying wood is subject to carpenter ants, so watch out for this. It’s important to replace the wood and fix the damage as soon as possible.
  • Sawdust or tunneling is another sign of carpenter ants. As the ants tunnel through to make their nest, they will leave behind small piles of sawdust and the wood may appear brittle and break apart.
  • It’s also important to know where to look for carpenter ants. As mentioned above, any damp wood is susceptible to an infestation and their hotspots for making nests include windows, chimneys, bathrooms, and door frames. Any hollow spaces could potentially be at risk.
  • Any damage to your home should be inspected. Carpenter ants are known to cause sagging ceilings and floors, as well as unstable walls. If you’re noticing any of these, it’s important to seek a professional.

If you’re seeing any signs of a carpenter ant infestation, it’s advised to call a professional pest control company. Russell’s Pest Control has been serving Knoxville and eastern Tennessee for over 45 years. If you live within these areas, our team will partner with you to inspect and eliminate pests from your home. Better yet, they can help prevent pests from ever entering! We have different program options that will keep your home pest free and safe from the damage carpenter ants can cause. Contact Russell’s Pest Control today to get rid of your pest infestations!

What’s The Big Deal About Carpenter Ants?

What's The Big Deal About Carpenter Ants?

When you think of the term carpenter ant, what do you picture? Do you see a little ant, wearing his little yellow hard hat, sporting little steel-toed boots, and carrying a little toolbox with his tool belt around his waist? Wouldn’t it be nice if this were the case? Perhaps if you had a repair to be made around the house you could send a bunch of these little Mr. Fix-Its on their way to do your bidding; kind of like elves.

The problem is, these ants aren’t really builders or fixers of any kind. They are destroyers. In fact, they really ought to be renamed destructor ants. That would certainly be more appropriate since they burrow into wood and weaken the structure of your home. Yes, these are a pest we all need to take seriously, because if left to their own devices, they can do some pretty serious damage over time.

What do carpenter ants look like?

Carpenter ants are among the largest ants in the world, but the size of these ants within their colony varies. Adults are anywhere from 6 to 12 mm in length. Some males and winged swarmers can be as large as 18 mm, and the queens are around 20 mm. They are typically black but can have a reddish tint. And, the thorax of these ants is evenly rounded.

What do carpenter ants eat?

You may be tempted to think that carpenter ants eat wood like termites do, but this is not the case. These ants actually feed on sources of protein and sugar, such as dead insects, honeydew, meats and pet food. They do most of their foraging for food at night, between sunset and midnight during spring and summer. Sometimes worker ants travel up to 100 yards away from their nest in search of food. It is typical during this time when carpenter ants find their way into homes.

So what do carpenter ants have to do with wood?

Carpenter ants create tunnels and nests inside of wood. This can be either outside, such as in a log or tree stump, or inside, such as inside your walls or under roofing. And it’s most common for homeowners to find carpenter ants inside during the spring. If you find these ants in your home during late winter or early spring, this suggests that they are coming from a nest that is already inside your walls. And if you see piles of wood shavings underneath wooden items, then you should be appropriately concerned.

What can you do if you find these “destructor ants” or evidence of them, inside your home?

If you have seen these ants or evidence of them, it is a best to contact a professional pest control company as soon as possible. If left untreated, these little home wreckers can do quite a bit of damage both to outdoor wooden structures as well as the wood in your house. Here at Russell’s Pest Control, we have decades of experience dealing with carpenter ants, and a whole host of other household pests. And unlike those “carpenter” ants that do not live up to their name, our expert pest control technicians certainly will. You can count on it.

Carpenter Ants: The Busy Builders

Since we’ve already started a mini-series about ants (including odorous house ants and fire ants), I thought we might round off our discussion of one of East Tennessee’s most troublesome pest families with an introduction to one more common species. Today, we’ll have a look at carpenter ants and the trouble that they can cause when they invade homes or businesses.

As you can imagine based on their name, carpenter ants tunnel through wood to build their colonies (much like carpenter bees). Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat the wood that they destroy. They grind it into sawdust while they’re excavating and push the dust out into the open with the rest of their waste. Therefore, if you find piles of sawdust near your home (particularly if they’re inside), you should suspect carpenter ants first thing. In almost every case of carpenter ant invasion, excess moisture is present. The moisture softens the wood, making it much easier to remove than dry wood. Quite often, we find this species of ant near leaks around bathtubs or by leaks at exterior doors and windows. The presence of these ants could alert homeowners to the possibility of water-related problems.

Carpenter ants are nocturnal, so they are most active at night; this means that you may not encounter them in your home until they’ve already built up a substantial colony. If you do encounter carpenter ants in your home or business in an area ranging from Lenoir City to Knoxville to Sevierville, they are most likely to look like the one pictured here. The most common species in our area is the black carpenter ant. They are solid black, and each colony contains members of three different sizes. The smaller ants are more likely to stay near the nest and care for the young while the larger ants (which can be quite large) are more likely to be out foraging for food.

So, what are carpenter ants likely to be up to inside your home? Well, they’ll be doing exactly what every other bug does: looking for food, shelter, and water. Black carpenter ants can invade homes in order to set up a primary colony in wooden siding or in the wood frame inside your walls. These pesky critters can do some serious structural damage if they’re left untreated for any amount of time. However, it’s just as likely that their primary colony is outside in a stump somewhere and they are only using your house as a grocery store and nursery.

Carpenter ant eggs require a very moist environment while their later life cycles are more comfortable in a slightly dryer atmosphere. Because of that, these little explorers will often set up a secondary colony someplace out of the elements where they can tend their toddler-aged ants. In that case, you may have a nest without the telltale carpenter ant sawdust piles. They could be exploiting a hollow void in your house for their secondary colony. This could be a wall void (which is very inconvenient) or something much simpler like an infrequently-opened drawer or a long-untouched box.

The thing to remember is that carpenter ants like to follow well-established trails and prefer “roadways” when they can get them. You are most likely to see them walking along a wall, around your cabinets, or beside your garden hose outside. You can use this tendency against them and follow them all the way back to their nest. Once you follow them to the secondary nest inside your building, you can remove it and will be well on your way to eliminating your problem. Bear in mind that, unlike many ants, carpenter ants send only a small percentage (usually less than 10%) of their colony members out to forage at a time. If you are only killing the ants that you find eating the sugary juice spill in the kitchen, you will continue to have carpenter ant problems.

The pest control industry views ants as one of the hardest pests to control, and, let’s face it, plenty of people find it creepy to have so many little insects running around the house. If ant control is simply not your forte or not something you can fit into your schedule, we at Russell’s Pest Control would be happy to offer a helping hand. As always, you can give us a call or contact us online.