If you have a carpenter ant infestation in your home, you’re not alone. They’re common pests in Houston and Austin.
As their name suggests, carpenter ants do like to make tunnels through wood, whether that wood is a tree or the studs in your home. Even though they don’t actually eat wood, these critters can cause real structural damage to your home over time, so it’s important that you get them removed as soon as possible. But that’s not the only issue with carpenter ants.
Carpenter ants have strong mandibles (lower jaws), so when they bite, you’re probably going to feel it straight away. So, in today’s blog, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about carpenter ant bites, including what to expect if you’re bitten and how to respond to a bite.
Carpenter ants are very large ants that like to burrow into wood to create their large nest colonies. Some types of carpenter ants can grow as large as an inch long, and there are several different types that live around the world. Usually, they like to live near wooded areas and forests, but since most of our homes are built out of wood, they’ve also found that they’re a great place to build a colony.
In the US, the most common type of carpenter ant is the Black Carpenter Ant, and they are found throughout the eastern and southern United States – including Texas. This particular species is roughly a quarter of an inch long and often black, brown, orange, or a combination of the three colors.
While the most common American species is relatively small in size, these carpenter ants can still cause a lot of damage to your home in a relatively short amount of time. Once they move in, they can build extensive nests inside the wood of your home, potentially causing dangerous (and costly) structural damage.
The damage they cause might not be easy to spot right away either, since it often happens inside your walls, under the floor or in your roof. So often, by the time you realize you have a carpenter ant problem, they’ve already caused a lot of expensive trouble.
Carpenter ants love moist areas near food, and they especially love sweet food, greasy food, meat, and eggs. So, if you’re going to get a carpenter ant infestation, it’s likely to be near a refrigerator or another source of food. They also like to eat pet food, so you might spot them near your dog or cat’s dinner.
Carpenter ants can move into nearly any building, so having a carpenter ant infestation is nothing to be ashamed of – they’re not in your home because of anything you have done.
However, carpenter ants do like warm, damp places, so they often choose to make their colonies in wood that is moist, often due to a leak from your roof or plumbing. Water on its own can be very bad for the structure of your home, but when you add carpenter ants into the mix, things can get very bad, very fast.
Even though carpenter ants are bigger than other kinds of ants, they’re still pretty tiny, so they can get into very small spaces. Since they also like to live in moist, dark, enclosed spaces, it can be hard to spot their nests for a long time.
In some cases, you might spot the actual ants, or you might find dead ants in your home, often near their nest.
The most common sign of carpenter ants is not the ant itself though. It’s the signs of their carpentry! Small holes in woodwork, sawdust, or wood shavings in places that shouldn’t have either or small amounts of insulation in strange places are all signs that you might have a carpenter ant colony in your home.
The first thing you need to know about carpenter ant bites is that they are not usually serious (unless they bite someone who happens to be allergic). They also don’t go out of their way to bite people. So they are most likely to bite you if you disturb their next, or if they feel threatened.
However, that doesn’t mean that carpenter bites don’t hurt!
Except, they’re not really bites either.
Rather, they’re more of a pinch, because carpenter ants use their very strong jaws like calipers on your skin. They’re strong enough that they can break the skin too, and they secrete formic acid when they do this. That’s the same stuff that makes stinging nettles sting, so it’s easy to see how broken skin and formic acid could be a painful combination.
The intensity of the stinging will vary depending on where you are bitten, how many bites you get, and how much formic acid gets into the wound. However, the good news is that unlike some other ant and insect bites, carpenter ant “bites” aren’t venomous.
When someone is bitten by a carpenter ant, it’s very rarely serious, and it’s not all that likely that you’ll get bitten by carpenter ants if you have an infestation. Carpenter ants usually try to avoid people as much as possible. However, if you happen to have a run-in with one or more carpenter ants, there’s always a chance that they will act in self-defense.
Carpenter ant bites are almost always in self-defense, and these are not ants that will swarm you or attack you unprovoked. However, if you do get bitten, you might experience some unpleasant sensations in the area of the bite, including:
The sensations you get from a carpenter ant won’t last very long though. In fact, you will probably start feeling better very shortly after the initial stinging sensation.
While carpenter ant bites are rarely dangerous or even very painful, they can certainly be unpleasant, and it’s not something you want to go looking for!
Since carpenter ants usually only attack when they feel threatened, and that usually means when you interfere with their nests, the best thing you can do is not go looking for trouble!
If you suspect that you have a carpenter ant infestation, don’t try to get rid of it on your own. It’s unlikely that you will be able to do so, and you don’t have the tools or experience that a pest control specialist will have.
All that will happen if you start messing around with a carpenter ant nest is that you will make them angry and scared, and that will almost always lead to bites.
So just leave them alone and call a professional!
In most cases, you won’t need to take action after being bitten by a carpenter ant, other than making sure you keep away from the infestation.
You can treat the bite by cleaning the area under running water and holding a cool compress on it. You can use an antiseptic cream or wash on the area, just to be doubly sure there is no bacteria in the area of the bite. Avoid scratching the wound as much as possible, and if it doesn’t heal in a day or two, speak to a doctor or medical professional. There’s a very small chance that you might need additional treatment.
It’s not always easy for people to tell insects apart, so you may not be 100% certain that you were bitten by a carpenter ant. Carpenter ants also don’t usually bite (or pinch) unless they are provoked, so if you’re waking up with painful or itchy bites, it’s probably not a carpenter ant that is giving them to you.
Other types of bites can be more serious (or you may be allergic) so, if you’re experiencing swelling, a rash, extreme pain, or worsening symptoms, it could be time to call your doctor. If you ever experience difficulty breathing after an insect bite, do not hesitate to visit the emergency room to get emergency medical care. While carpenter ant bites aren’t dangerous, there are many insect bites that can be, and you never want to take that chance!
A very small percentage of people are also allergic to carpenter ant bites, and that can cause a dangerous or even potentially life-threatening reaction. So never assume that your response will be mild, and always watch for any worrying symptoms.
If your children or pets are bitten by a carpenter ant or any other insect for that matter, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention. It can be hard for children to articulate what they are feeling, and of course, your pets can’t tell you what they’re feeling.
There are several other insect bites and stings that look a lot like carpenter ant bites too, so unless you see the bite happening and can confirm what you’re dealing with, never assume it’s harmless, or an ant bite.
The best way to deal with carpenter ants is to avoid letting them into your home to begin with, however, once they have made a nest, that’s not an option.
If you have a lot of carpenter ants in your home, you will need to call a pest control professional. This is not the kind of infestation you can handle on your own.
Once the ants have been removed, you might have to have a contractor inspect the area where their nest was built and repair any serious damage they might have caused. The amount of damage will depend on how many ants were living in your home, and how long they had been there.
With carpenter ants, prevention is always better than cure. So once the ants are gone, make it harder for them to find their way back. You can do this in several ways:
There are some natural and commercial products that can be used as a deterrent for carpenter ants, so when you have someone come to get rid of your uninvited guests, be sure to have them recommend something that will work for your home.
Whether you’ve already confirmed that you have a carpenter ant problem or are still trying to figure out what you’re dealing with, Natran Green Pest Control can help.
Our team of pest control specialists can identify exactly what kind of insects and animals you’re dealing with, and we have all the tools, products, and technology needed to remove them from your home.
We can advise you about methods to help keep your home free of pests and can help you to find all the areas of your home that has been damaged by carpenter ants or other common household pests.
Remember that carpenter ants can do a lot of damage in a very short amount of time, so if you suspect you have an infestation, don’t delay! The sooner you call or email us, the faster we can confirm what you’re dealing with, and the sooner you can have an ant-free home!