One of the most unfortunate aspects of home ownership is knowing that your beloved house could become infested with wood-boring insect pests at any time. Unless you own a home in a polar or subpolar region, like Alaska or the far northern reaches of Siberia, at least one type of lumber-infesting insect species is native to your area. Of course, termites are the most widely known insects that inflict damage to the timber-framing that keeps houses standing, and termites are certainly the most destructive insects of this kind, but there exists many other insect species that can infest structural wood.

Surprisingly, in Massachusetts, carpenter ants damage more homes than termites, but the state is home to more carpenter ant species than termite species, as the eastern subterranean termite is the only termite species that exists in the state. Also, carpenter ant infestations do not inflict damage to structural wood as rapidly as subterranean termites, but these are not the only wood-damaging ants within the state. Without question, ants belonging to the Lasius genus are the most obscure insects that have been found infesting structural wood, and several species of this genus inhabit Massachusetts. However, Lasius ants only infest dead rotting wood that is saturated with moisture, making infestations of these ants rare within valued homes. But most of these ants are still classified as pests for several reasons.

Lasius ants are commonly referred to as moisture ants due to the moist wood that most of these ants infest. Massachusetts contains many moisture ant species, most notably L. neoniger and L. niger, more commonly known as cornfield ants and black garden ants, respectively. Cornfield ants often infest damp wood within areas of a home that are exposed to water leaks and high moisture levels, but these ants are better known for their nuisance swarms which occur during August and September, and for their habit of scavenging for sweet-tasting food sources within homes. Cornfield ants are also the most abundant ant pests to lawns in Massachusetts where their nesting behavior can result in unsightly mounds that protrude from lawn-grass.

Has your lawn ever suffered damage due to the mound-building behavior demonstrated by ants?