carpenter ant up close on wood

Your home is one of the greatest investments you will make during your lifetime, it is no wonder we get a lot of homeowners asking the question "Where carpenter ant damage is most likely to occur?". Carpenter ants can cause significant damage to any products made of wood, especially your home. Let's take a look at the places you should keep a close eye on for signs of carpenter ant activity and what you can do to protect your house from these damaging pests.
When a home is constructed, the first portion put into place is the foundation. This might be a slab of concrete or it could be a full basement. Houses in the United States have some kind of solid foundation and most foundations are made from concrete.
As you can probably imagine, it is hard to drive a nail into concrete. Builders understand this. So they attach a horizontal layer of wood along the foundation walls. This is called the soleplate. It may also be referred to as a sill plate, a sill, or a sole plate (two words). When it comes to vulnerabilities on a home, this is one of the worst because it is covered by siding or some other building material and cannot be seen from the outside. It can, however, be seen on the inside, in some cases. You might be able to go down into your basement and see your soleplate at the top of your basement walls.

Now that we've zeroed in on this location, here are a few things you should know about the soleplate of your home:

  • When a gutter system doesn't work properly, it can result in a dampened soleplate. Over time, this creates wood rot and wood rot invites carpenter ants.
  • When carpenter ants attack a sill plate, you're probably not going to know about it. These ants can slip right up under your siding and go to town on that softened wood.
  • Many houses have decks, porches, patios and other structures that abut them. These structures can provide areas of shade where dampness can linger. These areas are also difficult to see into. This is a lethal combination.

If carpenter ants are damaging your soleplate, you may be able to tell. Carpenter ant push sawdust (frass) out of their tunnels. You might see this frass on your basement walls, below the soleplate. If they are pushing the sawdust outside, it can be more difficult to see it and you may be forced to detect carpenter ants in another way.
Another point of entry for carpenter ants that you might not know the name of is a roof penetration. Most homes have a roof penetration. It might be an exhaust pipe or fan. It might be a skylight. It might be a vent. Any object that is put into the roof of your home will fall into the category of a roof penetration.
Ideally, a roof is completely sealed and rainwater is not able to get into your home. But, when it does, it can create wood rot and invite a carpenter ant infestation (among other pests). What is important to understand about these vulnerabilities is that carpenter ants usually access roofs by way of tree branches. If you have branches that touch the roof of your home, it is a good idea to have them trimmed. This is a recipe for disaster.
If carpenter ants are attacking a high location on your home, their frass will likely be deposited in your attic space. It is a good idea to do periodic checks of your attic to look for these sawdust deposits and for the presence of rodent nests.
Carpenter ants are looking for softwood to chew into. Soleplates and roof areas can provide softened, rotted wood for them. The damage they do will be mostly on the inside of the wood but you might see some carved damage. It will look as you might imagine it to look. It's going to look like insects are eating the wood of your home.
We hope this has helped you get a better picture of how a home can become vulnerable to carpenter ants. If you ever need assistance with carpenter ant detection and control, remember that the pest control team here at Russell's Pest Control is standing by to help.


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