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Carpenter Ants: How to identify and what to do

08/13/2019

Carpenter Ants Camponotus pennsylvanicus

The black carpenter ant is a common invader of homes in the northeastern United States. In their natural habitat, carpenter ants aid in the decomposition of dead, decaying trees. They normally nest in logs, stumps, and hollow trees. However, the large, dark-colored workers often invade homes in search of food. These ants seldom tunnel into dry, sound wood, but they may excavate moist, rotting wood and other soft materials (such as foamed plastic insulation board) to make satellite nests. Homes built in wooded areas are especially subject to infestation. Carpenter Ants are not easy to control. They can live almost anyplace

Description

Workers are wingless, dark shiny brown to black in color, and 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length. They may be seen crawling around inside a residence. Winged reproductive forms resemble workers in color and shape but are up to 3/4 inch long. The body is constricted between the thorax and the abdomen. The antennae are elbowed. The front wing of a reproductive ant is longer than the hind wing.

A carpenter ant colony has one wingless queen and many sterile, wingless, female workers. It also has white, legless larvae and, at certain times, winged females and males. The eggs are white and the pupae cocoons are tan. Usually, a colony does not produce winged males and queens until it is several years old and has about 2,000 to 3,000 workers.

Do I have Carpenter Ants?

The presence of large, wingless, dark-colored ants inside a home is usually the first sign of an infestation. However; this does not necessarily mean that a nest is present indoors. The nest may actually be located outside, near the building. Foraging workers from the nest may be entering the structure in search of food and water. Indoor nests may have originated from one or more parent colonies outside the home. The parent colony is often located in a tree, log, or waste wood within 100 yards of the house. Workers travel between the satellite and parent colonies. To eliminate the ants, the parent and the satellite nests must be found and eliminated. Common indoor nest locations include porch pillars and supporting timbers, sills, girders, joists, wall studs, window and door casings, and under insulation between ceiling joists or wall studs. Check areas where the wood may be wet or damp because of poor ventilation, a leaking roof, defective flashing, overflowing or leaking gutters and downspouts, condensation from water pipes, or leaking bathtubs, showers, and appliances.

Homeowners should watch for ants that are foraging indoors and try to find their nests. Look for piles of course, stringy wood particles, dead insect parts and other debris that are shifting from cracks in the siding, behind moldings, in the basement and attic, and under porches. Because carpenter ants do not consume the wood as food, excavated particles are dumped outside the nest.

Help prevent Carpenter Ants

Remove stumps, logs, and waste wood within 100 yards of the building. Do not allow vegetation, especially evergreen shrubs and trees, to be in contact with the house. Store firewood away from the house and off of the ground, and bring it into the house only when needed. Keep wooden parts of the house and other structures dry by making necessary repairs to roofs, flashing, gutters, and downspouts. Replace any water-damaged, decaying wood. Usually, carpenter ants will not infest wood that is sound and has moisture content of less than 15 percent. Keep exterior wood surfaces painted and sealed.

How will Magic control your Carpenter Ants?

Magic will perform a detailed inspection to locate and eliminate all of the ants' nests. The parent and satellite colonies must be destroyed or the ants will reappear in a few days or weeks. Magic can try to eliminate the colony by using various methods of control. Dust formulations of diatomaceous earth, silica aerogel, or boric acid have no or low mammalian toxicity and may be blown into nests and cavities to kill the ants. Magic will inspect the exterior perimeter of you home looking for satellite colonies. The application of insecticide sprays, dusts, or baits to areas where the foraging ants may come in contact with them will give partial control and may eliminate the colony. Bait can be used but are frequently for one reason or another, the ants will ignore the baits.

If you see carpenter ants in your home or walking around in your yard give Magic a call for a free pest evaluation.