Signs Your Porch's Untreated Wood Is Infested With Carpenter Ants

If you have noticed large ants crawling around on your porch,you may not be concerned about their presence at first. However, if your porch was built using untreated wood, you should investigate further, looking for the signs discussed below, to find out whether the insects are carpenter ants that may be causing serious structural damage to your porch. 

Piles of Sawdust on the Floor

Carpenter ants burrow their way into any beams or planks, creating small holes in the process. While they are drilling these holes, they create a small pile of sawdust and feces, which is evacuated through the holes' openings.

If you notice any of these tiny holes, look around on the floor below them for small piles of light- to dark-brown dust. If you find several of these piles in different locations, chances are the ants are already deep within the wood.

Faint Sounds When the Wood Is Tapped

Just like the ants with which you are already familiar, carpenter ants live in colonies and work together to gather food and make their nests. And, although they are relatively small, they can make a lot of noise while they are inside your porch's wood, especially if they sense any danger and sound an alarm.

When an unfamiliar noise is detected, the ant's sentry group will spring into action and warn the others. Once the colony is alerted, they will start moving very quickly, creating a faint but distinct sound.

A simple test to see whether or not you have a large infestation is to gently tap the surface of one of the beams or planks. Before you do so, lay your ear next to the area you will be rapping. When a large colony of ants is present, you will hear a noise that sounds much like paper rustling.

Knife Easily Slices the Wood

After finding small piles of dust and hearing noises inside the wooden structures of your porch, you have already found enough evidence to suggest that you have a carpenter ant infestation. However, you may not know the full extent of the damage they are causing.

To find out if the structural damage has reached significant proportions, you can perform a simple test using a butter knife. A colony of carpenter ants can damage a lot of wood, creating multiple channels under the surface that severely weaken the wood, making it as thin and vulnerable as a piece of paper.

To test the strength of the wood, firmly and carefully place the tip of the butter knife's blade perpendicular to the surface. Then, push forward.

If there is a large infestation of ants feeding on the area, the blade will go through the wood without much effort on your part. Repeat the test at random spots around your porch to get a better idea of just how widespread the problem has become. 

If you find multiple areas of weakened wood, you need professional assistance as soon as possible, as the structural integrity of your porch is compromised. The planks can become so weak that they can no longer withstand your weight while walking on them, increasing the chances of you falling through.

And, if the support beams have become brittle, there is always a chance that they could break, bringing down part of the roof covering the porch.

If you discover any of the signs above, you most likely have carpenter ants infesting your porch's wood. Contact an ant pest control service like Good News Pest Solutions to discuss your options for getting rid of the ants, as well as guidance on how to prevent further infestations.