Black carpenter ants do not eat or digest wood, but they tunnel through wood, which can cause structural damage.
Since they favor moist wood as a habitat, any condition that promotes moisture should be eliminated to prevent infestation. The easiest of these is keeping gutters clean so that water does not run down the side of the structure or gain entry. Moist wood is much easier to chew. These ants do not eat the wood, but remove it to create galleries for their activities. The galleries run parallel to the grain, as they are created in the softer, non-lignin portions of the timber. The galleries have a sandpaper-like feel, due to fecal remnants, but the mud-tubes produced by termites will not be seen. Sawdust-like piles sometimes accumulate below sites of activity.
Any wood in contact with the ground can be a source of entry, and water running toward the structure will also encourage these ants. Sloping the surrounding ground away from the structure will remedy this method of entry. Leaks inside the house from plumbing or appliances can also create the moist conditions that encourage these species.
Reducing moisture will not eliminate an established colony. One can spray the insects with common household insecticides to kill them, but this is unlikely to penetrate enough to reliably kill the colonies deep in the wood. Since it is likely that the wood housing the main nest is no longer structurally sound, the complete removal of the nest is recommended.
One must find the main nest. This can be done by following the foraging workers. Winged males leave the nest to reproduce, so there is little point in following them. The males go in search of sunlight, so they are often seen near doors and windows (as exit points.) If winged ants are seen, there is a colony not far behind, so do not ignore this important warning sign. Structural damage can be intense by the time external damage is visible, such as sawdust or bubbling paint.
Various kinds of pesticide measures are now used, including diatomaceous earth, granular chemicals, biologicals and soil poisoning. The latter is the least environmentally sound. The granular chemicals exploit the insects fondness for sweets. The granules are carried back to the nest, where the more slow-acting will eventually be fed to the queen.
Occurrence of Camponotus pennsylvanicus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in trees previously infested with Enaphalodes rufulus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.(Report)
Jun 01, 2009; Red oak borer, Enaphalodes rufulus (Haldeman) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae), is a native wood-boring beetle that has been implicated...