The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, spring is here – and so are the carpenter ants. Carpenter ants are the largest ant in the United States, and the springtime, specifically March through April, is when they are most active. Since they can be easily confused with termites – another pest that likes to swarm during this time of year – many people don’t realize the extensive damage carpenter ants can do until it’s too late.
Here’s what you need to know about these wood-destroying ants so you can take appropriate pest control measures to protect your home.
#1. They’re Huge
As previously mentioned, carpenter ants are the largest type of ant in the United States. In our previous blog, we talked about the sugar ants that you’ll also find invading your home during this time of year. Carpenter ants are much larger than those. They can vary from ¼ to ½ an inch in length, although some, such as the queens, can grow up to an entire inch long.
#2. They Don’t Eat Wood
Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t eat wood, they just excavate it. Carpenter ants don’t have the digestive enzymes needed in order to be able to digest wood. Instead, they forage for proteins and sweet substances. These include other insects, dead or alive, as well as the sweet liquid that aphids and scale insects produce, which is called honeydew.
#3. Having Them In Your Home Doesn’t Always Mean Infestation
Just because you’ve noticed these huge ants in your home doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an infestation on your hands. Swarmers and queens can gravitate towards interior spaces while searching for a place to establish a nest. If they’re in your home, they may just be looking for a spot to nest, rather than having already made one. The presence of them in your home alone is not enough to determine whether or not they have a nest there.
#4. Large Numbers Does Indicate A Nest
If they’re coming from inside your home rather than outside and there are more than just one or two, then yes, you probably do have an infestation on your hands. At this point, it’s important to contact professional pest control specialists in order to locate the nest and get rid of it before the ants can cause even more damage to your home.
#5. It Can Be Hard To Detect Them
Unlike termites, that leave behind muddy or rough holes, these ants can go undetected for months and even years on end, so that by the time you realize they’re there, the damage they’ve caused is extensive. In some cases, they can even damage the structure of your home.
These ants usually make smooth, clean holes that are hard to find. Some warning signs that you may have carpenter ants include: sawdust piles, shed wings, wet wood, damaged wood, rustling noises in your walls, and consistent sightings of ants in your home.
#6. They Have 2 Types Of Nests
These ants have both parent nests and satellite nests. Parent nests are typically found outside, such as in tree stumps or around windows, although they can be inside. These ants love moist, decayed wood, so you’ll find their nests beyond bathroom tiles, around dishwashers and showers and the like, in hollow spaces, in your insulation, and other such areas.
Satellite nests are usually composed of workers, as well as pupae and mature larvae. These nests are usually in drier locations, such as hollow areas around your doors.
#7. They Can Cause Extensive Damage
As previously mentioned, carpenter ants can cause a lot of damage to your home. This usually happens quite slowly, and can take years to notice. The bigger the nest, the worse the damage. They can weaken the structure of your home, and cause damage to other wooden structures in and around your home.
#8. You Can Prevent Them
Given that it can be quite hard to detect carpenter ants, it’s important that you do what you can to keep them from ever becoming a problem. This includes measures such as: replacing moisture-damaged wood, trimming branches away from your home, removing tree stumps and roots, and more.
Do You Need Pest Control For Carpenter Ants?
Onyx Lawn & Pest Control knows how much of a pain carpenter ants can be, and how hard it can be to locate their nests and get rid of them. If you need help preventing them from infesting your home or getting rid of an infestation, contact us today. We’re here to help!