Carpenter Ants Identification
Sumary: Proper carpenter ants identification could save your house from extensive damages and costly repairs. Learn the signs of carpenter ants so you can take quick action.
Carpenter ants are found in many parts of the world, and actually play a significant role in life by keeping down the insect population that would otherwise destroy numerous forest trees. Unfortunately, they can be a major household nuisance if they are undetected.
They nest in moist wood such as rotting trees, tree stumps, tree roots and decaying wood inside buildings. They make numerous tunnels in the wood which eventually weakens the area and destroys it. The good news is that colonies do take between two and four years to grow and establish themselves, giving you plenty of time to send these large unwanted ants packing.
First, it is important to establish whether you actually have a carpenter ant problem or not, as sometimes ants can just wander into the house in search of food or new nesting sites. Ants in these situations will not present a problem and can easily be removed.
The next thing you need to establish is whether the ants you have been seeing are actually carpenter ants, some other ant species, or perhaps, even termites. There are different treatments recommended for each type of species, so carpenter ant identification is important to enable you to take the appropriate course of action.
Carpenter ants, unlike termites, have a thin waist. The antennae on ants are elbowed (bent), but are straight in termites. Carpenter ants are quite noisy and make rustling sounds inside their tunnels. They produce piles of sawdust as they build tunnels in wood. Termites, on the other hand, actually eat the wood.
There are several types of carpenter ants that make up different groups within their colonies. These groups consist of working ants, queen ants and male reproductive ants. Making things even more confusing is that carpenter ants are polymorphic meaning that the colony has worker ants of various sizes.
Once an ant colony has established itself, several satellite nests can sometimes be built nearby in both indoor and outdoor sites. The satellite nests consist of pupae, mature larvae and workers, and these nests do not need to be in moist conditions because there are no eggs present. They can therefore be found in drier areas of wood such as hollow doors and insulation. The worker ants then move busily between their nests and the parent colony.
In the late summer, carpenter ants produce many males and queens which come out of their nests the following spring. Once mating has taken place the carpenter ant queen will begin her search for new nesting sites. Once the winged carpenter ant lands its wings break off and it begins to construct a new nest.
Carpenter ant food preferences consist mainly of sugar and protein. They love insects and honeydew, but will readily consume many household foods such as honey, biscuits, candy and even pet food.
It is obviously easier to prevent infestations of ants than it is to get rid of them, so it is a good idea to perform regular household and garden checks to ensure that you have eliminated any potential problems such as removing any damp conditions, replacing any damaged structural wood inside the house, filling in cracks in the walls and around piping and electrical wiring to prevent entry, trimming back tree branches and keeping all food covered and out of temptation.
You should only use pesticides as a last resort. If you do have to use them, however, you should always follow the safety instructions carefully and wear personal protective clothing at all times.