Does My California Home Have Carpenter Ants or Termites?

Are you wondering if you might be dealing with termites in California or some other wood-destroying pest? Even carpenter ants in California can cause a big headache for home and business owners. Both of these wood-loving insects can infest your property causing thousands of dollars in damages. Finding termites or carpenter ants on your property can be shocking, but there are things you can do to prevent an infestation or help clear your home or business from these destructive creatures. Learning more about each species is key in understanding how they operate and how to get rid of them.

Carpenter Ants

Ants are social and lie together in colonies. The type of ant dictates the type of colony it lives in but within each the individual ants play different roles. Colonies contain reproductive ants, like the queen, as well as worker ants to feed and care for queens and also find food and water away from the colony. A carpenter ant colony can contain up to 20,000 workers and up to 50,000 ants in total. Swarmers are also part of the colony but do not appear until a colony is mature – typically in about two years. These swarmers appear during the warmer months.

Carpenter ants love to attack softened wood that has been infested with fungus or is simply retaining moisture. Excess moisture and rotting wood are the perfect combination to attract carpenter ants in California and beyond. The ants enter through small openings they create in the wood and expel debris as they go. Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t actually eat wood, they just tunnel through it to create nests.

Termites

Termites in California are a true danger to properties. There are three common types of termites in the state: dampwood termites, drywood termites, and subterranean termites. All of them can cause serious damage to your home or business. All of them build colonies, either underground or above ground and travel away from them to find food. All species of these termites feed on wood, all day, every day, putting your property in danger.

Termite colonies are made up of swarmers, workers, and soldiers, each having a role to play to keep the system alive. Workers build tunnels to find food, soldiers fight off predators, and swarmers eventually become reproductive members of the colony. A mature colony can house more than a million termites that are consuming wood nonstop. Just think about how quickly they can cause detrimental damage to your home or business.

Signs of an Infestation

No matter what the pest, no one wants to find an infestation of carpenter ants or termites in their California home. However, looking for the signs and acting quickly can make a big difference in the end result. Here are some signs to look for to see if you may have an infestation of either carpenter ants or termites:

Ants

  • Piles of sawdust or wood shavings at baseboards, window sills, or door jams.
  • Spotting actual ants.
  • Faint noises within your walls or woodwork. Carpenter ants make noise when burrowing into wood within your home.
  • Finding shed wings near baseboards, windows, or other woodwork.

Termites

  • Droppings that resemble sawdust or coffee grounds.
  • Hollowed out or damaged wood around your home including blistering.
  • Finding mud tubes, which are about the width of a drinking straw.
  • Discarded wings or dead termites which can be signs of a recent swarm.

If you have signs of an infestation of either pest, you need to get professional help immediately.

How to Prevent and Handle an Infestation

There are some things you can do to try and protect your California home from carpenter ants and termites, however nothing is a replacement for professional services. Since both of these pests feed on wood, their damage can be quite costly to repair. Here’s how you can try and prevent an infestation:

  • Store firewood away from your home and be sure to remove dead wood or scraps from near the foundation.
  • Trim dead limbs or limbs hanging over your home and remove stumps from your yard. These pests may take up residence in these places and travel into your home.
  • Clean and clear gutters to ensure water is directed away from your home.
  • Seal any leaks in plumbing and check your crawl space for moisture.
  • Seal possible entry points on the outside of your home.
  • Correct venting in attics and crawl spaces.

Preventing a carpenter ant or termite infestation in your California home is one thing, but dealing with one that’s been established is quite another. If you’ve found an infestation, your best plan of action is to contact a professional like AAI. Both carpenter ants in California and termites in California can be very hard to control on your own. Get help from the professionals who have years of experience in pest management and save yourself and your home the hassle.