String lights and antsLight strings are pretty, popular and a perfect way to get wood ants onto your home!

Wood ants include carpenter and acrobat ants. These are larger than sugar or fire ants, and have nests in trees, stumps, logs, rotting wood and other wood that is higher moisture and softer. Unlike fire ants they typically crawl high up on surfaces.

This can include your home! Basically they will move from those outdoor locations onto your structure. They don’t eat wood like a termite, but they can cause some damage. They tunnel into and “extract” wood, depositing their work as sawdust-looking debris near the tunnels and nest. This can show up outside and inside houses around windows or wooden beams.

They often travel into the house from a nearby main nest in a tree, fence or other source. We focus most of our treatment for acrobat and carpenter ants around the perimeter of the home — including looking for their nest and eliminating it.

So why are light strings an issue when it comes to these ants? Because many people wrap them high around tree trunks or branches and then pull them over to a patio or outer wall of their home. This is eye-catching, festive and decorative to be sure. It’s also a bit like building a road between their front door and yours. And putting out a welcome mat. And lighting up a sign that says “Ants Welcome!” And inviting a few hundred of their closest friends…and you get the picture!

The secondary issue is that it makes treating for those ants more difficult. Because the light strings are higher off the ground, ants are less visible when walking from a nearby tree to your home. Out of sight, out of mind. The result is they can establish themselves in your home, build a colony in your walls and be that much harder to remove.

What to do? You can still have that bright, fun and festive outdoor oasis on summer nights, but don’t hang them directly from trees to your house. Just wrap them around a patio, or, if you do attach them to a tree, smear a ring of vaseline around the strand near the tree connection. They won’t be able to walk past that roadblock and they’ll return. They may take an alternate path along the ground, but they’re much easier to spot that way!

There’s also a product called tanglefoot which is stickier and may last longer on a surface before needing to replenish it.

Either way, keep an eye out for potential pitfalls like tree lights which can enhance your home, but lead to headaches and pest issues later! (Another thing to watch for are tree branches that touch your house. Trim them away!)

If you get carpenter ants and need help getting rid of them, call our office at 512-443-0123 for a free quote — and no contracts required — or fill out our website form.