If you've ever seen ants, you'll know they all look the same from our heightened view. However, because carpenter ants can damage the structural integrity of your southern Maine home, it is worth knowing the difference between what one looks like when compared to the less dangerous house ant and pavement ant.
What do they look like?
If you ever meet a carpenter ant, they can be different colors (black or red) but they have a few physical traits in common.
1.) The workers are ¼ to ½ inch with the queen being ¾ inch.
2.) Carpenter ants have even, smooth, arching profiles which descends until it reaching the waist.
3.) They have one node as their petiole, the small bump which connects their 2nd and 3rd parts (thorax and abdomen). The house ant’s node is hidden and the pavement ant has two nodes.
4.) Black ones are covered with yellowish or gray hairs but their black color is still evident.
Now that we have first impressions out of the way, let’s talk about behavior.
1.) A carpenter ant colony doesn’t always begin in wood, but they eventually find themselves there. Though a nest could start under a stone, they will eventually move into a fallen log, stump, or hole of a tree. They prefer wood that has been softened by water damage!
2.) Carpenter ants don’t eat wood like termites; they discard it as they work through the wood, dropping it out of their nest (and appearing as a fine sawdust to the human eye).
3.) Their tunnels produce very smooth sides, creating large brown-stained tunnels.
4.) Though they can live inside the wall cavities of homes, usually their parent nest resides outside, such as inside a tree with a hallow center, in a stump, or in stacked firewood. The nest inside your home is most likely a “satellite” nest. While this can be treated, finding the queen who safely resides in the parent nest, is even more effective.
5.) They eat other insects and spiders and forage for honeydew and juices from fruit. While indoors, they will often come out to eat meats, fruit juices, and sweets.
6.) They are most active at night and use trail pheromones to tell the other ants where they are going. A professional like Green Shield Pest Solutions is often able to identify these trails unless they are underground.
7.) They can travel! They may forage up to 100 yards from their nest. So, if you see one ant, it doesn’t necessarily mean a nest is nearby. If you see 5-10 routinely in the same spot, you may have a problem.
Why does Green Shield Pest Solutions treat carpenter ants through the winter?
Ants do not die in the winter and magically reappear in the spring. In the winter months, colonies survive by entering a form of hibernation known as diapause. The ant produces a chemical in their body that helps them resist freezing temperatures. Their nests are also located deep in wood which provides insulation from the Maine winter. Also, many ants can still remain active on warmer winter days.
Green Shield’s goal is to break thee life cycle of the carpenter ant, which means not allowing them opportunities to survive in between treatments. Consistency is key when treating a carpenter ant infestation.
How to fix the problem
First, you must determine if the nest is inside or outside the structure. More times than not, it is located outside in a fallen tree or stacked firewood. Interior nests can be difficult to spot and while exterior nests are easy to find, they can often be far away from your home. Carpenter ants rarely thrive in dry places, which is why it is a good idea to look out for these issues around your home:
1.) Overflowing gutters
2.) Improper flashing around chimneys
3.) Holes on the roof
4.) Lack of ventilation anywhere moisture accumulates
5.) Improper attachments of wooden additions
6.) Anywhere water collects around your home, especially places like porches, patios and door sills.
7.) Leaky plumbing.
If any of these issues are present on your property:
1.) Remove and replace infested wood.
2.) Stop future moisture from accumulating
3.) Remove dead trees, stumps, and other wooden debris.
4.) In general, keep no wet wood anywhere near your property.
What Green Shield does to help
There are few methods that help more than a solid and consistent pest control plan. Green Shield Pest Solutions is usually able to find the parent nest, locate satellite nests, and treat accordingly. Dust, spray, or baits are often used on outside colonies and there are a variety of family-friendly products that can be used inside.
Thorough inspection is of the utmost importance and follow-up is always necessary. Green Shield makes meticulous notes as to specific locations needing special attention. Then, honest advice is given to the customer on projects needing to be done to insure the property stays carpenter ant-free.
If you live in a wooded area like most Mainers or suspect a carpenter ant issue, call (207) 815-1003 or reach out to Green Shield Pest Solutions here.