What are moisture ants?

frass left from a moisture ant colony
A pile of frass left behind from a moisture ant colony

Moisture ants are a wood-destroying organism that indicates there is wet wood in or around a house. Moisture ants are not a primary wood-destroying organism meaning they do not infest dry wood.

Because wet wood is a prerequisite, moisture ants could be considered more of a symptom than a primary problem. Moisture ant queens are large ants and can be confused with carpenter ants, but the more prolific workers are small and almost an orange brownish color. If you find moisture ants in your house, there is a good chance there is a water problem and some damaged wood.

dead moisture ants
This photo shows some dead moisture ant workers

 

Moisture Sources

Tracking down the source of the moisture can be tricky. Check for leaking plumbing or leaks in the exterior siding or roofing system somewhere. Moisture ants are commonly found under leaking bathrooms and below leaking roofs. Once a moisture problem starts, moisture ant workers can build nests and tubes and deliver additional moisture to a problem and exacerbate decay and damage to wood.

 

moisture ant tube
This shows a moisture ant tube and nest below a bathroom with leaky plumbing

Moisture ants can be confused with termites

The tubes and nests built by developed moisture ant colonies are frequently confused with subterranean termite tubes. If this is an active problem, just break open the tube to see if there are ants or termites inside the tubes. Once a moisture ant colony gets established, moisture ants will exacerbate water damage especially to softwoods used for framing residential construction.

Should you Treat for Moisture Ants?

Generally, there is no need for chemical treatment with moisture ants. The best way to eliminate moisture ant infestations is to eliminate the wet wood. Once the damaged wood is removed and existing wood is dried out, the moisture ants will go away. When moisture ant frass or nests are found, you may need to remove finishes or damaged wood to chase the problem. You need to keep going until the source of the moisture can be identified and repaired.

I hope this brief article helps you understand a little more about moisture ants and what they could mean for your house and how to remove them.