Unfortunately, the notorious carpenter ants don’t only exist on mainland BC but are also present here on Vancouver Island and are especially problematic in Victoria and Nanaimo. Carpenter ants exist all throughout Canada but thrive in moist regions and along coasts. There are two carpenter ant species on Vancouver Island, Camponotus modoc which are black and Camponotus vicinus which are black and red. In the wild they help in the decomposition process of dead trees, but they are also attracted to damp or decaying wood in your home. Read on to learn the major signs of these carpenter ants, how to tell them apart from other ants, how to get rid of a carpenter ant infestation and how to prevent carpenter ant nests in the first place.




Carpenter Ant Sawdust


Signs of Carpenter Ants 

The following are strong signs of carpenter ant infestation. Unfortunately, typically carpenter ant colonies will have been established for multiple years before you even see signs of them within the home. If you do notice any of these red flags call your local pest control experts immediately!

Sawdust Piles – Carpenter ants leave piles of sawdust in their wake as they create a maze of tunnels towards their centralized nest, where they live and lay their eggs. They like to keep their tunnels and nests very clean and consistently sweep all the sawdust and other debris out creating conspicuous piles. The sawdust piles also often contain ant droppings called frass and the bodies of small insects that the carpenter ants feed on, if you see these telltale signs you know you have a carpenter ant problem. 

Slit-shaped Holes – Look for small slit-shaped holes in the walls, especially above any sawdust piles. This is how the carpenter ants kick the wood debris out of their tunnels. 

Noises in the Wall –  You may hear rustling or faint clicking sounds coming from the walls, particularly at night. This is the sound of carpenter ants moving around in their nests.

Foraging Ants – Carpenter ants live in large colonies with hundreds of individuals, and foragers will search around the house for protein or sugar-rich foods to bring back to the nest. Keep an eye out in the kitchen and in moist areas like by windows, especially after sunset when the ants are most active. 


Identifying Carpenter Ants on Vancouver Island

The two main types of carpenter ants on Vancouver Island are Camponotus modoc which are black all over and Camponotus vicinus which have black bodies and red legs. They are both large ants ranging from 6 to 25 mm in length, about the size of a sunflower seed. They are often confused with termites due to their size however, it is easy to tell the difference as carpenter ants have a very slim waist and bent antennae, whereas termites have thick waists and straight antennae (see the picture below). Both male and female carpenter ants can grow wings during mating periods and you may see them flying around the house this is a sign that the nest is established and they have been there for some time. 


termite vs carpenter ant


How to prevent a Carpenter Ant infestation 

Carpenter ants are a major nuisance and can cause severe structural damage to your home if left unchecked. Here are some steps you can take to prevent a carpenter ant infestation:

  1. Eliminate sources of moisture: Carpenter ants are attracted to moist environments, so it’s important to address any sources of moisture in and around your home. This includes fixing leaks, ensuring proper drainage around your home’s foundation, and properly ventilating bathrooms and kitchens. You may even want to consider a dehumidifier if the relative humidity of your home is consistently above 60%
  2. Seal cracks and gaps: Carpenter ants enter homes through small cracks in walls, foundations and rooves. You’ll want to seal any gaps with caulk, expanding foam, or weatherstripping. For hard-to-reach places such as on the roof ensure you are following proper safety protocol or simply call in your local pest control professionals to get the job done effectively and safely. 
  3. Trees and firewood: Carpenter ants often nest in trees so it’s important to keep them trimmed away from your home. Woodpiles are another common home for carpenter ants and other pests, so make sure to store wood at least 5 feet away from your house. 
  4. Keep your home clean: Carpenter ants are attracted to food, so make sure to clean up spills and crumbs promptly and store food in airtight containers.
  5. Consider professional pest control: If you have a history of carpenter ant infestations or if you are concerned about a possible infestation, call in the professionals. They not only can eliminate pests from your home but can effectively deploy preventative measures to save you from future headaches. 



How to get rid of Carpenter Ants 

If you have a carpenter ant infestation, it’s important to address it as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your home. Here are some steps you can take to get rid of carpenter ants:

    1. Locate the nests: Carpenter ants usually have one or more satellite nests in addition to their main nest. Look for sawdust, dead ants, or ant trails to help locate the nests.
    2. Remove food and water sources: Just like all animals carpenter ants need food and water to survive. Make sure to keep your home clean and dry, and store food in airtight containers.
    3. Call in the professionals: A carpenter ant infestation can do major structural damage to your home and if left untreated will quickly grow. It’s incredibly hard for a homeowner to deal with on their own and the longer they are left unchecked the more damage will be done. At the first signs of ants in your home it’s important to call in pest control professionals to take a look. With their knowledge and expertise, they will be able to assess the severity of the problem and develop a targeted treatment plan to get rid of these pests for good.


How to get rid of Carpenter Ants on Vancouver Island

Old Island Pest Control offers pest management and exterminator services for both residential and commercial properties. We have local pest control experts at locations across Vancouver Island including Duncan, Nanaimo, Parksville & Qualicum, Courtenay, Victoria and Campbell River. Call us today to learn how we can help.