Steven L. Smith, Bellingham, WA Home Inspector (King of the House)


Unwelcome Prowlers

We are talking security here. This is important. Every homeowner wants to think that his or her home is difficult to break into. A breach of security can have devastating consequences. Homeowners often buy the best doors, the best locks and they join block watch groups. But sometimes those consumers miss the most dangerous prowlers when those prowlers are on-site and casing the joint. If you think that is an exaggeration, then let me show you a photo of a prowler that I saw recently. 

C. Modoc carpenter ant, bellingham home inspection, king of the house 

This prowler was scoping things out from the outside, in the backyard, in broad daylight. When such a prowler is seen, then a homeowner has to ask another question: Has this prowler already been inside, or has the activity been confined to casing the joint on the outside? Sometimes, to find out for sure, you have to look in the attic or, more likely, the crawl space.

C. Modoc carpenter ant infestation, bellingham home inspection, king of the house

In this case, the crawl space insulation lets us know that the prowler, and many other carpenter ant friends and associates in crime, has been down in the crawl space and damaging the building materials. These clues are the kinds of dots that the structural pest inspector has to connect together during the course of a home inspection.

In Washington state, an individual licensed as a home inspector, without also being licensed as a structural pest inspector, is not allowed to report on activity by wood destroying insects. The licensed structural pest inspector, who is also a licensed home inspector, is allowed to report on all facets of the condition of the home and property. In this state, when people buy a home with any age on it, it usually behooves them to hire a dual-licensed inspector.

A video that I prepared, on carpenter ants, is available below. 




Steven L. Smith

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Comment balloon 6 commentsSteven L. Smith • June 24 2011 03:59PM


Excellent video Steve.  I don't remember ever seeing carpenter ant evidence here, but may have without knowing it.  I know now!  That is a very instructive video.  Thanks.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago


We got so darn many of them here that we see it fairly often. It takes some thinking, sometimes, to figure out if you are seeing ant frass or something some guy made with a powertool. The shavings are different, but the light in a crawl space, as you know, is not all that great sometimes.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

That's a great video Steve. I'm surprised you did not embed it in your blog.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) almost 9 years ago


I did this video a few months back. I have posted it here before. I have done others on anobiid beetles, moisture ants, dampwood termites. When I do a blog, with that kind of damage, I will put in the proper video. I often embed it but, with the two photos above, I was afraid the third photo might take away. But, since you suggested it, I will embed it above. This version of the video I did, specifically, to link to in my reports. Folks got carpenter ants, they can click on the video for more information and photos.


Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 9 years ago


Love the vid. I like the prowler!

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

This time of year and with the heavy rains this month carpenter ant activity is in overdrive.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 9 years ago