Carpenter Ants and Your Home
Carpenter ants measure between 1/8 and ½ an inch long and play a very important role in character. Breaking down dead trees much faster than wood that is free of these ants, carpenter ants can be considered “character’s recyclers.” They make homes for themselves and ultimately for larger animals, making them a welcome part of any forest’s ecological system. Though the forest welcomes them, homeowners fear the intrusion of these insects as they can be responsible for incredible amounts of damage. in spite of if your home is old or new, carpenter ants can find their way into your residence and set up colonies with as many as 20,000 individuals making them the one of the largest pest colonies that your home can acquire.
Carpenter ants, like any insect, prefer to live outside which is why the queen will set up the parent colony in a stump, dead log or in your wood pile. The ants that you are most likely to see in your home are from the “satellite” colonies which are scavenging for food for themselves and the parent colony. Carpenter ants will eat live or dead insects, sweets, fats and meats. They will travel up to 100 yards from their nest looking for food, so keeping track of where you see the ants will help to determine where the nest might be. When looking for the around the exterior of your home, keep an eye out for small saw-dust like material in a cone shape, this is where your carpenter ants are getting into your home. Entering into your home is the specialty of this insect and you are most likely to find them entering in places with moisture, so keep a close eye on water pipes, gutters and leaking roofs. Setting up the satellite nests once they’re in is just a matter of finding the right deck, window frame, eave, sill, sub-floor, joist or rafter to build in. Unlike the termite that eats the wood in a home, carpenter ants carve out the wood using it’s mandible and then push it out of their living space, not ingesting any of the shavings they’ve produced.
Identifying that you have a carpenter ant infestation is as simple as noticing the ant itself. Since these ants are nocturnal, you may only see a scout here or there during the daytime hours and are more likely to see larger numbers of the colony at night time. To help prevent an infestation, keep all tree and their branches out of reach of your home so that they do not offer easy access to your home. Remove any old tree stumps and replace any rotted wood with new materials. Exposed wood should be painted or sealed before it can get wet and become attractive to the insect. Store any firewood up off the ground, away from your home, and only buy one season of firewood at a time. Inside your home you should keep all food sealed in plastic storage bags or closed containers so if an ant finds its way into your kitchen, it will not locate any food. Be vigilant in cleaning your counters and cabinets to keep them clear of crumbs and other food debris.
Ridding your home of carpenter ants can be challenging. For many insect infestations, baiting works well, but carpenter ants eat such a varied diet that baiting is found to have very little effect. Over the counter sprays kill the ants, but you are most likely killing off the worker ants within your home and not affecting the dominant nest outside. As the workers are killed off, the queen will create new workers, sometimes increasing the numbers of intruders in your home. The most effective way of eradicating the infestation is to use a dust insecticide which needs to be inserted into the area where the queen and the dominant colony are in addition as into each satellite colony. What makes this a difficult task for the homeowner is that dust insecticides are not freely obtainable to the public and are often only easy to reach to a licensed pest control company.