What Are Carpenter Ants?
Carpenter ants are one of the most common types of ant found in North America. These pests are known for their destructive habits, as they often invade homes and other structures in search of food. Contrary to their name, they don’t eat wood; they chew it to make their nests (The National Wildlife Federation). Keep watch for evidence of these pests so you can launch into action promptly.
Carpenter ants can be a serious problem for homeowners, as they can cause extensive damage to wooden structures. They tunnel through wood, which can weaken the structural integrity of buildings. In addition, carpenter ants often contaminate food sources with their droppings, which can lead to illness in humans.
What do carpenter ants look like?
These large black ants that have a distinct segmented body. They can be up to a half-inch long. In addition, they fly using two pairs of wings, with the front pair longer than the back.
Where can I find them?
Carpenter ants build their nests in wood, so they are often found in rotting wood or hollowed trees, or they will build nests in structures, such as homes or buildings. These ants prefer damp wood, so they are often found in areas that have leaks or other moisture problems.
Carpenter ants are found throughout the United States. They are most common in the following states: Alaska, California, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington.
What is the carpenter ant life cycle?
The life cycle consists of three stages: egg, larvae and adult. These ants lay their eggs in nests located in damp wood. The eggs hatch into larvae, which molt (shed their skin) several times as they grow. Once they reach adulthood, carpenter ants mate and begin to build their own nests.
What do carpenter ants eat?
They are attracted to sweet substances, so they may be seen raiding pantries or kitchens in search of sugar or other sweet foods. In the wild, carpenter ants feed on other insects, honeydew (a sticky substance secreted by aphids), and other plant juices.
What does carpenter ant damage look like?
Damage often appears as small holes in the wood surfaces of your house. These holes are where the ants have hollowed out the wood to make their nests. While they nest in both wet and dry wood, they prefer moist wood. The University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment reports they will often use wood dampened by water leaks to make their nests.
How Do You Prevent Carpenter Ants?
First, the best carpenter ant prevention is to keep them out of your home altogether. To do this, eliminate potential entry points by sealing cracks and gaps in your foundation and exterior walls. Because they are attracted to moisture, look for moisture-prone areas of your home and repair any problem spots, like leaks in your plumbing or roof. If you have any wood that is damp or rotting, be sure to remove it from your property. University of California’s Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program recommends pruning back trees and shrubs around your home to help keep carpenter ants away.
How can I get rid of these pests?!
- Pruning a dead limb or treating a sick tree. This will help prevent infestations that can eventually target your home.
- Find and remove the nest. This can be difficult if you don’t know where the nest is located, but if you can find it, you can destroy it by using boiling water or insecticide.
- Use baits and traps. There are commercially available baits and traps that are effective exterminators.
- Seal up entry points. If you can find where the ants are getting into your home, you can seal up those entry points to prevent them from coming back.
- Call for help. If you’re having trouble getting rid of carpenter ants on your own, you may need to call a professional, Arbor Masters, for help. Tree care and removal of dead limbs can be preventative, protect your home and beautify your property by having healthy trees. Arbor Masters offers pruning services and preventative options. Fertilizations and trunk sprays can heal damaged bark and, if needed, can treat an infested tree to kill the colony.
If you suspect that you have an infestation, it’s important to contact a professional pest control service as soon as possible. They will be able to identify the extent of the infestation and develop a customized treatment plan to eliminate the ants.
Looking for help with your pest control problem? Reach out to the team at Arbor Masters today.