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Minnesota Community Living 2013-03-04 Spring Is Here: Ice Dams and Carpenter Ants
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Spring Is Here: Ice Dams and Carpenter Ants

By Rainbow Pest Experts

What do ice dams and carpenter ants have in common?

You may or may not know that carpenter ants prefer to build their nests in wood that has been damaged by water. That being said, this winter many of our homes had an abundance of snow on them. For many, that snow turned into ice dams that backed up and melted under shingles and in some cases even ran down into walls. Unfortunately, that creates the ideal habitat for carpenter ants.

Carpenter ants do not eat wood, as they are unable to digest cellulose like termites can. They use their strong mandibles (jaws) to chew the wood in order to make space to expand the size of their colony.

A mature carpenter ant colony has an average of 15,000-20,000 members (this includes all of their nest sites). Some colonies have been reported to reach as many as 100,000 members. Satellite nests may be located up to 300 feet away from the primary nest site. Carpenter ants can go undetected for a long period of time in a home because they are nocturnal (only active at night). Carpenter ants are classified as omnivorous, which means they’ll eat just about anything. Their favorite food is honeydew, which is emitted by aphids that feed on the leaves of plants and trees.

What to look for that would indicate you have carpenter ants nesting in your home:

  • Black ant(s) inside the kitchen, bathrooms, and/or laundry area.
  • Ants with wings on them.
  • Sawdust in an unusual area.
  • A "chewing” noise behind the wall.

There are a number of things you can do to minimize the chance of having a carpenter ant infestation, including:

  • Repair roof leaks, plumbing leaks.
  • Replace, if possible, any wet damaged wood.
  • Keep soil and mulch from making contact with wood siding (the greater the distance, the better).
  • Seal any cracks or holes in your home’s foundation, especially around wires and pipes, with a silicone sealant.
  • Keep tree branches and vegetation from touching the siding or the roof of the home.
  • Store all firewood away from the home and elevated off the ground.

It is ideal to replace wood that has been damaged by water, but in some cases it may be too costly to tear into those areas where the wood is located.

There is good news. Products can be applied to the exterior of your home or business to protect it for an entire season with just one treatment.

Published by Community Associations Institute — Minnesota Chapter, copyright 2013. All articles and paid advertising represent the opinions of authors and advertisers and not necessarily the opinion of either Minnesota Community Living or CAI–Minnesota Chapter. The information contained within should not be construed as a recommendation for any course of action regarding financial, legal, accounting, or other professional services by the CAI–Minnesota Chapter, or by Minnesota Community Living, or its authors. Articles, letters to the editor, and advertising may be sent to Chapter Staff Editor Joe Flannigan at, or at CAI–Minnesota Chapter, 1000 Westgate Dr., Suite 252, St. Paul, MN 55114.

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