Of the many ants in the world, the carpenter ant may be the most well known as a residential pest. The genius of carpenter ants includes hundreds of related species, with the most familiar being the black carpenter ant. Understanding the behavior of the carpenter ant will make it easier to prevent and treat a possible infestation if it occurs. It will also help in discovering the best methods for killing carpenter ants.
The following are some carpenter ant basic facts.Without close inspection, it may be difficult to identify carpenter ants from similar ants or termites. Carpenter ants are most often black, but may have additional red coloration. Their thorax is even in shape, which helps distinguish them as carpenter ants. What makes the carpenter ant such as threat to structures is that they are wood infesting, unlike many other species. Fortunately, unlike termites, they do not eat wood.
Here are some things to know before attempting to identify an infestation. When carpenter ants have infested a structure, it may not always be apparent to the naked eye. Carpenter ants often look for food at night, making this the ideal time to observe their activity when looking for signs of an infestation. If a food source is identified inside or outside the structure, it is possible to observe an ant trail during the nighttime hours. Some clues useful in identifying a carpenter ant infestation include wood shavings, which are a byproduct of the tunneling behavior of these ants. Mixed in with the wood shavings may be parts of dead ants. Wood shavings and dead ants are usually found outside of the nest as the ants clean their nests. Depending on the size of the infestation, it may be possible to hear the ants scurrying around in the walls of a structure. Although most carpenter ants are wingless, as the colony matures, some ants will have wings (swarmers). This allows them to fly, mate, and help develop a new colony elsewhere or in neighboring parts of the same structure.
When preventing and treating an infestation keep the following in mind. Routine maintenance of structures is the best defense against carpenter ants and one of the tactics of eradicating an infestation. Since carpenter ants typically nest in wood that has been affected by significant moisture and rot, preventing or fixing moisture damage is the first step to control. If there are any signs of water damage or decay, the wood should be removed and replaced quickly. When there is an established colony, the nest can be located and chemical methods can be used to kill any ants and larvae. Since there may be multiple satellite nests in a single structure, in addition to the primary nest, a thorough evaluation of the entire structure is necessary to ensure all areas have been treated. Fortunately, most instances of carpenter ant infestations do not spread quickly or cause considerable damage when identified and treated promptly. Significant infestations causing considerable damage are more likely to occur in structures that are damaged and have been unoccupied for many years. Although carpenter ants can cause considerable damage, it takes many years of structural neglect before obvious damage occurs. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent and easily eliminate carpenter ant infestations.