Archive for the ‘Carpenter Ant’ Category

Ant: Tips for Preventing Carpenter Ants

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Carpenter ants can be a huge frustration to a homeowner. It can be time consuming to try to find the main source of the carpenter ants, the colony. Also there can be multiple colonies, adding to the frustration. The best thing to do is have your local pest control service come out and examine your home. Many times if there is a colony inside there is a larger colony outside. Like many other pests problems homeowners face there are some basic prevention tips to help keep carpenter ants outside of your home. Here is a list of things homeowners can do to avoid a carpenter ant invasion.

  • Eliminate any moisture sources. Correct roof leaks, plumbing leaks, and any other moisture problems.
  • Replace any damaged wood.
  • Get rid of anything that is wood to ground contact. If necessary elevate the wood with concrete pier blocks.
  • Stack firewood away from the homes foundation and elevate it off of the ground. Always keep outside in an open area, like the backyard.
  • Trim or clip any tree branches or vegetation touching the roof or siding of the house.
  • Remove logs, stumps, and waste wood near or under your home.
  • Add a gravel or stone strip around your house.
  • Make sure all window and door frames do not contact the soil of your yard.
  • Seal or caulk any cracks in foundation, openings in foundations, entry points on the house, and around electrical and water lines / pipes.
  • Check any crawl spaces, attics, and basements to make sure they are well-ventilated, and have no moist or damp areas.
  • Clean any clogged gutters to prevent water damage.

Ant: Carpenter Ant Nests

Friday, December 4th, 2009

The nest of the carpenter ants can be very intricate. If you were to find one it could just look like a piece of wood has been carved out very nicely. Unfortunately, the carving is done by carpenter ants while they make their home. The cut outs are actually called galleries or tunnels. In a way the galleries almost look like a maze has been cut into the object.

ant carpenter ants

This carpenter ant nest was built in an old tree. It's hard to believe that carpenter ants made this carvings, galleries.

An important factor in the nest location for carpenter ants is moisture. Carpenter ants can make their nest in many different things that either have natural moisture to them or are near moist areas. Some of these spots are things like moist wood, firewood, near sinks or showers, under roofing, and or in wall voids. Once a location has been chosen the carpenter ants will get to work.

The nest of a carpenter ant may be found indoors or outdoors, although most often the main nest will be outdoors. Within the carpenter ant colony there will be a main nest, called the parent colony, and then there are smaller nests, called satellite colonies. A colony of carpenter ants can have up to 20 satellite colonies. The main purpose of a satellite colony is to have a place outside of the chaos within the parent colony to take care of the pupa. The workers take the pupa and transfer them from being with the Queen to a satellite colony where the workers will take care of them until they are adults. Often times the satellite colony can be found inside a home. Unlike the parent colony the satellite colony does not need as much moisture.

Many times homeowners will see carpenter ants in their home and do not know where they are coming from. This is usually because the carpenter ants are out searching for food. If the carpenter ants are inside the home they can either be passing through or coming out of their nest. The best way to determine where the carpenter ants are coming from is to find their nest. If you can not find the nest it could be outdoors, and the carpenter ants are just looking for food. If you do find the nest it is best to call your local pest control service to come remove the carpenter ants. Finding a nest can be trying. It is best to attempt to locate the nest at night when the carpenter ants are more likely to be out. Once you see them follow them, you don’t want to startle them so use a flashlight with a red film or lens on it. Carpenter ants can not see red light so they won’t see you following them. Hopefully they will be headed back to their nest and you can follow them. If they look like they are looking for food go ahead and lay some of their favorites out as a lure, then once they get their food they will head back to the nest. In the case that you do not see the carpenter ants out and about look around your home for frass, the saw dust looking stuff, as that is usually left near the nest.

ant carpenter ants

Here's an example of what frass looks like if you need to search for carpenter ants within your home.

Another option is listening for the ants. Check in any suspected areas where carpenter ants like to build their nests, and tap on the object or wall. Put your ear up to it and listen for a rustling sound, carpenter ants make this sound with their jaw and if they are disturbed, by tapping on the wall, the sound will get louder. If you locate the noise you have your nest location. At any time you find a nest call your local pest control service to come out and evaluate the colonies. The most important thing in controlling carpenter ants is that you destroy the parent colony, and not just all the satellite colonies. A professional pest control agent will be best at determining if the nest you have found is a parent or satellite nest.

Pictures courtesy of www.creativecommons.org

Ant: The Carpenter Ant

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Carpenter ants are one of many species of ants. Even though carpenter ants look similar to many of the other species they have their own physical characteristics that differentiate them from other ants. Also,of carpenter ants are often confused with termites. The best way to differentiate carpenter ants from another kind of ant is the carpenter ant only has one segment between it’s thorax and abdomen; also, the thorax is evenly rounded. Some carpenter ants are winged and this physical aspect confuses them with termites. The carpenter ants wings are different sizes, with the front wings being larger in size than the back wings. While the termites wings are the same size. Another physical characteristic that confuses people as to if it’s a carpenter ant or a termite is their antennae. The carpenter ant’s antennae are elbowed, where they look like they bend in the middle. The termite’s antennae are straight. These two simple physical traits of wings and antennae can confuse people, but knowing the difference will help homeowners correctly identify their pest problem.

ant carpenter ants

Carpenter ants have distinctive physical traits like the antennae being elbowed, and only one segment between the thorax and the abdomen. Both of these traits are visible in this picture.

The black- to red-toned carpenter ant is a hard worker, depending on it’s role within the colony that is. Ranging from three eights of an inch to a half of an inch, and sometimes larger, the carpenter ant does a lot with it’s little body. Whether the ant is a worker, a swarmer, a Queen, or a male, their size is contributed to their title. There are two varieties of workers, the larger worker is called a major and the smaller worker is called a minor. A swarmer is a winged reproductive carpenter ant. Queens are all usually about the same size, and there may be more than one Queen per colony. Males are used just for reproducing.

ant carpenter ants

These carpenter ants are swarmers. All swarmers have wings.

While males are used mainly for reproducing, Queens do just the same. Queens stay in the colony and lay eggs. In the late summer the eggs the Queen lays are males and more Queens, these eggs will hatch in early spring. Then these carpenter ants will reproduce once they are adults. Other eggs that the Queen lays throughout the year are females that become worker ants. The eggs take about three weeks to hatch into larvae. Once they are larvae they take about another three weeks to develop into pupa. From the pupa stage to adult it will be about another three weeks. The timing of all these stages may vary depending on the climate the carpenter ants are in at the time. During the carpenter ants development once it becomes a pupa worker ants come and take all the pupa to a satellite colony where the workers will take care of them. With Queens having so many babies the colony grows and grows over time. With in two to four years there can be hundreds of workers within a colony, and just a few years more there can be thousands of workers within a colony.

A kind of ironic fact abut carpenter ants is that they don’t eat wood. This is ironic because the colony that carpenter ants build is most often in some form of wood. They like to live in moist wood, rotting trees, tree stumps, logs, firewood, near tubs, near sinks, near showers, near dishwashers, under roofing, in attic beams, hallow spaces like doors, curtain rods, wall voids, and foam insulation. With a favorite living space being wood and the fact that carpenter ants make tunnels or galleries within the wood to form their colonies many people assume they eat wood.

ant carpenter ants

Here is a small nest found outside a house. The nest is in the wood of the patio.

Another common thing that confuses people as to if they have ants or termites in their house is that they both live in wood, and eat it. While the carpenter ant may live within wood and obviously has to destroy the wood to make its home it does not actually eat the wood, but many people think carpenter ants do eat the wood like termites do. Piles of what looks like sawdust, called frass, are left near the colony. Carpenter ants move it away from the colony once they have built their home so that people can’t find their nest right away. This confuses people even more because they assume the wood has been eaten by the carpenter ants and do not know where the piles of frass have come from.

Since the carpenter ants do not eat wood they find many other sources of food to eat. Carpenter ants go out to look for food usually around sunset and may stay out scavenging until midnight. Carpenter ants will even go as far as 100 yards away from their colony in order to find food. Proteins and sugars like meat, tuna in water, syrup, honeydew, honey, sugar, jelly, and other sweets are all favorites of the carpenter ants to eat. People can often find carpenter ants in their homes looking for food. This confuses people and makes them think they have an ant problem, when really there are just a few ants inside looking for food. Although there may be an infestation of carpenter ants the best thing to do to determine if there is a problem or not is to find the colony.

ant carpenter ants

Here are two carpenter ants feeding on a grape.

Pictures courtesy of www.creativecommons.org