Atak Pest Control

ants insects

How can you tell if you have a carpenter ant infestation?

No one likes seeing ants in the house, but carpenter ants can be especially bad news for buildings. Carpenter ants are especially difficult to remove because they make their home in wood (and love soft or damaged wood in particular). In fact, carpenter ants are sometimes mistaken for terminates because both insects burrow tunnels in wood. If you suspect you have a carpenter ant infestation, there are a few key signs to look out for.

Seeing ants is always the first tipoff of an infestation. If you notice ants in and around your home, take a closer look. The bottom segment of a carpenter ant (aka its thorax) will be smooth, and carpenter ants often have a visible notch on their waist. Noticing winged ants near walls or ceilings may be a key warning sign pf a carpenter ant infestation. Winged carpenter ants are looking for a mate, and their presence may mean a colony has been active for several years. However, seeing carpenter ants does not mean you have an infestation. Carpenter ants often look for food (and mates) quite far away from the nest.

Finding wood shavings and sawdust is another key signs of a potential carpenter ant infestation. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not actually eat wood. Carpenter ants like their nests to be very smooth and clean, and remove the debris and sawdust they create as they burrow tunnels. This debris sometimes looks like irregularly-sized pencil shavings. It may also contain dust or segments from dead ants. Carpenter ants remove debris through slit-like openings (called ‘windows’) which may also be visible.  

Carpenter ants are most active at night. You may be able to hear them by holding a glass up to the wall and tapping on it. A soft clicking or rusting sound may indicate carpenter ants. If you knock on the wall and it sounds hollow, that may be another telltale sign.  It’s also important to know where to look. Carpenter ants prefer soft wood like pine, or wood that is moist or decaying. Inside, they like to live near water (kitchens, bathrooms, moist basements and leaky attics can be prime targets), and near door and window frames. Outside, carpenter ants are often drawn to damaged hardwood trees and tree stumps.

The presence of carpenter ants (particularly winged ants looking for mates), wood shavings and debris and rustling in the walls may all be signs of a carpenter ant infestation. If you suspect you may have a carpenter ant infestation, the best advice is to call a professional.

bees insects

What are Carpenter Bees?

Carpenter bees, also known as wood bees, are small, inch-long insects that closely resemble a bumblebee. You can spot the difference by noticing the carpenter bee’s less-hairy, shiny abdomen. It is important to take preventative measures against these bees, as it is much easier to prevent them rather than to get rid of them. Carpenter bees are a pest to many homes by burrowing into unfinished wood for shelter and nesting. The bees do not eat the wood, they only use it to lay eggs and live.

The bees find the wood through the odor in which the natural wood emits. They prefer untreated soft woods; even weathered wood is attractive to the carpenter bees. Although they prefer untreated wood, painted or treated wood is not necessarily a surefire way to ensure that carpenter bees don’t attack. Painting is advised over staining, as the bees are more likely to be attracted to a stained finish versus a painted finish. If painting isn’t an option, it is recommended to stain and put a gloss topcoat over the stain which will provide an extra layer and will render the wood less useful to the bees.

Painting or staining the wood is still a great deterrent, however, it is important that all cracks and crevices are painted/stained, as any wood that is left unpainted is still susceptible to damage. Painting/staining is a non-chemical approach to taking care of the issue and also tends to be a more hassle-free option. When using sprays or other methods of prevention, it is necessary to spray the wood every 3-4 weeks from spring until autumn. When spraying, you also need to ensure that all wood area is covered (under rails, decks, etc.) Any area that is left unsprayed is fair game. This is also another reason that painting/staining is a better option, because with paint or stain it is easier to see the areas that have been covered already. Once dry, paint/stain is weatherproof whereas spray can be affected by rain. Some sprays have also been known to leave a visible residue, especially against darker woods. Because of that residue, this may not be the best way to go about prevention in homes with small children, dogs, or other animals that may touch or ingest the spray. Not only does painting/staining the wood prevent these bees from attacking, it is also a great way to weatherproof the wood and add a decorative, finished flare.

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Carpenter Ants

Camponotus fellah MHNT.jpg
“Camponotus fellah MHNT” by Didier Descouens– Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 viaWikimedia Commons.

Carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) are large (0.3 to 1.0 in or 0.76 to 2.54 cm) antsindigenous to many forested parts of the world.[1]  They prefer dead, damp wood in which to build nests. They do not consume it, however, unlike termites.[2]  Sometimes, carpenter ants hollow out sections of trees.  They also commonly infest wooden buildings and structures, and are a widespread nuisance and major cause of structural damage.[3] The most likely species to be infesting a house in the United States is the black carpenter ant(Camponotus pennsylvanicus).  However, over a thousand other species are in the genusCamponotus.


Carpenter ant species reside both outdoors and indoors in moist, decaying, or hollow wood. They cut “galleries” into the wood grain to provide passageways for movement from section to section of the nest.  Certain parts of a house, such as around and under windows, roof eaves, decks and porches, are more likely to be infested by carpenter ants because these areas are most vulnerable to moisture.

Carpenter ants have been known to construct extensive underground tunneling systems.  These systems often lead to and end at some food source – often aphid colonies, where the ants extract and feed on honeydew.  These tunneling systems also often exist in trees.  The colonies typically include a central “parent” colony surrounded and supplemented by smaller satellite colonies.[4]


Carpenter ants are foragers that typically eat parts of other dead insects or substances derived from other insects.  Common foods for them include insect parts, “honey dew” produced by aphids, or some secretions from plants.  Carpenter ants can increase the survivability of aphids when they attend to them.  They attend to any aphid species, but can also express preference for specific ones.[citation needed]

Most species of carpenter ants forage at night.  When foraging, they usually collect and consume dead insects.  Some species less commonly collect live insects.  When they discover a dead insect, workers surround it and extract its bodily fluids to be carried back to the nest.  The remaining chitin-based shell is left behind. Occasionally, the ants bring the chitinous head of the insect back to the nest, where they also extract its inner tissue.[5] The ants can forage individually or in small or large groups, though they often opt to do so individually.  Different colonies in close proximity may have overlapping foraging regions, though they typically do not assist each other in foraging.  Their main food sourcesnormally include proteins and carbohydrates.[6]


Carpenter ants work to build the nests that house eggs in environments with roughly 12-15% humidity due to their sensitivity to environmental humidity.  These nests are called primary nests.  Satellite nests are constructed once the primary nest is established and has begun to mature.  Residents of satellite nests include older larvae, pupae, and some winged individuals.  Only eggs, the newly hatchedlarvae, workers, and the queen reside in the primary nests.  Since satellite nests do not have environmentally sensitive eggs, the ants can construct them in rather diverse locations that can actually be relatively dry.[7]


While you can certainly use your own methods of pest control to include diatomaceous earth, we strongly suggest to let Atak Pest Control, Inc. use their exclusive Home Pest Control Package to manage all of your ant problems.

Don’t hesitate call us today (281)291-9222!


  1. Cranshaw, Whitney; Richard Redak (2013). Bugs Rule!: An Introduction to the World of Insects. Princeton Univ. Press. p. 329.ISBN 140084892X.
  3. Strauss, Levi (January 2005). “Carpenter Ant Fact Sheet”. Spokane County Extension. Washington State Univ., Spokane, WA. Retrieved February 19, 2014.
  4. Colony Size and Polygyny in Carpenter Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Roger D. Akre, Laurel D. Hansen and Elizabeth A. Myhre Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society , Vol. 67, No. 1 (Jan., 1994), pp. 1-9
  5. Pricer, John. The Life History of the Carpenter Ant. Biological Bulletin , Vol. 14, No. 3 (Feb., 1908), pp. 177-218
  6. Yamamoto, Marcela, and Kleber Del-Claro. “Natural History and Foraging Behavior of the Carpenter Ant Camponotus Sericeiventris Guérin, 1838 (Formicinae, Campotonini) in the Brazilian Tropical Savanna.” Acta Ethologica 11.2 (2008): 55-65. Print.
  7. Pararas — Carayannis, Carolyn. “Carpenter Ants.” Colony Behaviors of Carpenter Ants. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 October 2013.

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Why do Carpenter Bees drill perfect holes?

Carpenter Bees are known for drilling perfect holes. Carpenter bees do not build beehives in order to lay their eggs, instead they drill holes in wood and choose to deposit their unhatched eggs there. They tend to drill perfectly round approximately 1/4-1/2 inch holes in their favorite woods like redwood, cedar, pine and cypress. They also have been known to build their nests in wooden frames, usually door frames and window frames, rafters, siding, porch ceilings and the eaves of houses. Carpenter bees do not eat the wood, instead they drill holes for nests to lay their eggs and to provide shelter for their young. Although they are often drawn to most types of wood, they have a natural attraction to wood that is raw and unpainted. The fact that the wood is unpainted draws the carpenter bees because in order to drill the best hole, they need to drill against the grain of the wood. They also prefer wood that is at least 2 inches thick. A thin piece of wood would not allow them to obtain the perfect results needed to build a good nest.

Once the carpenter bee drills holes that are approximately 1 inch deep, they then make a right-angled turn and continue their drilling with the grain of the wood. Since carpenter bees do not have teeth, they use mandibles that they use like teeth to tear away at the wood in circular patterns. This allows them to drill perfect holes which are sometimes several feet long and containing multiple chambers for eggs, all leading off of the main tunnel path. The length of the carpenter bee holes could be impacted by the fact they tend to reuse the same hole multiple times for several batches of eggs.

Carpenter bee holes are about the diameter of a finger which allows easy access in and out for bees but also keeps larger predators out. One of the first signs of a carpenter bee nest being nearby is the evidence of very fine sawdust either outside or beneath the hole as well as the presence of several bees lurking around in the area. These lurkers are guarding and protecting their nests and are prepared to battle with any other species that tries to take over and invade their habitat. After all, building perfectly round holes in wood for nests takes both skill and a lot of time.

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bees insects

What can you use to keep carpenter Bees Away?

The Carpenter bee – Xylocopa violecea are natural professional woodcutters that are prevalent throughout North America in the United States. Although there are many species of the Carpenter bee, one of the most common is big and resembles the familiar bumblebee. In order to keep Carpenter Bees away, it’s important to understand how they operate. The carpenter bee is a pollinator, that forages around flowers and shrubs, under the eaves of buildings, and makes a loud buzzing sound. This bee though it looks like a bumble bee, can be quite destructive because it will bore into wood to make a nice home for itself, causing damage to the wood on your property. They appear aggressive, harassing or attacking people, however, they rarely sting unless they are female.

Carpenter bees burrow in your property most often through cracks in your walls, however, they do bore holes into any suitable wood for nesting by drilling holes which are approximately on average ½” wide. They will drill chambers from there which become their nest. The female bee will sting when defending her nest. Carpenter bees can be difficult to eradicate because the bees will often return to the wood location where they were born.

Focusing on prevention is the first step in eradicating these pesky bees. Carpenter bees generally prefer untreated or soft wood, so treating the wood outside your house may be a good idea. Painting the wood is also a good way to prevent carpenter bees as they like woods that are unfinished or weathered. Painting those untreated surfaces and filling in any areas that have holes or cracks with caulk is a good step to deter carpenter bees, and will keep them from making their homes in the wood.

Next, you may want to consider treating the wood with sprays that are designed to repel the carpenter bees. There are many different brands and types of sprays which effectively repel carpenter bees. Outlast NBS 30 Additive is an effective low toxic option which is formulated to help deter Carpenter bees from borrowing into your wood. It is also understood that Carpenter bees don’t like citronella. You can also make your own repellent with citronella oil, and lavender oil, jojoba oil, and tea tree oils. Spraying that mixture on the areas of the house or garden that needs repelling.

If you are wondering what sprays kill carpenter bees, there are plenty of options, and many wasp or hornet sprays will work against Carpenter bees also. You can spray these directly on the bee. Or these sprays can be sprayed into the holes where their nests are. You will want to seal the holes immediately with caulk if you are spraying the nests, and nighttime would likely be the best time for this option. W.J. Arnold. © 2016

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