The Carpenter Ant

In Vermont, carpenter ants can cause extensive damage to structures. Carpenter ants are a difficult insect to control and they can work through wooden members in a fairly short period of time. These ants do not actually eat the wood, but excavate galleries within it, to use as nesting sites. They prefer moist wood but will destroy sound, dry wood when conditions are favorable. Inside buildings, carpenter ants will nest in any moist or humid void. Hollow-core doors and foam insulation panels are also attractive to carpenter ants. Very often, their presence is not known until damage has already occurred.

Foraging activity can occur at any time of the day but usually peaks at night, keeping homeowners unaware of the extent of the problem. When scavenging inside your house, carpenter ants are attracted to sweets, meat, grease, and fat. These ants can travel as far as 300 feet from the main colony. Your home, with its year round moisture, warmth, food, and wood, provides a perfect environment for these destructive pests.

Colony Formation

A Carpenter any colony is usually formed within 66 days. First, the adult winged female- the queen- mates with the smaller winged male. Soon after mating, she loses her wings and then selects a nesting site in a piece of old buried wood or in a partially decayed tree or stump, where the first brood of workers is raised. These workers are very small yet they assume the care of the larvae and the queen, after they mature. Future workers are larger than those from the first brood as they receive better care. All workers are wingless.

In a mature infestations there may be as many as ten satellite colonies linked to the parent colony by trails and a frequent exchange of workers. Winged swarmers are produced when the colony is at least three to six years old, with emergence typically occurring from May through August.

The most common way in which your home can become infested is through emigration of an existing colony. Homes located near wooded areas, brush-covered vacant lots, or areas surrounding a new building site are prime targets for attack. Carpenter ants are very mobile and colonies are inclined to move if they are disturbed- as often happens during construction. Since you will only see a tiny fraction of the colony, seeing only a few ants can spell trouble.

Home Entry

Your home is fair game to carpenter ants. They often enter through openings such as foundation vents and cracks, plumbing holes, cracks and crevices around windows, overhanging branches, and entrances for utility wires. Stacking firewood against your home or in the basement can also invite an infestation. During mating season, the ants can even fly into your home. They can be found inside your home’s wall voids, in foam and padded ceiling insulation, around chimneys, in hollow doors, in floors and window sills, under bathroom floors and roofing panels, and near roofline downspouts and gutter braces.

Signs of Infestation

The first sign of active carpenter ant infestation is when you routinely see ants running throughout your home. Other signs of an active infestation include: the presence of fibrous sawdust beneath silt-like openings in wood members; visible tracks from foragers outside the house; faint rustling noises in walls and woodwork. A positive indication that an active, mature infestation is present is the emergence of large winged ants from walls, ceilings or crawl spaces.

The presence of workers alone is not conclusive evidence that a colony is established within your structure. Carpenter ant workers tend to roam far and wide looking for food, and some transient workers are sure to enter any home located in a wooded area.

Control Methods

Since carpenter ant control can be very difficult, an integrated management approach is advisable. Our pest control technician can use residual and non-residual insecticides to destroy the nest and to prevent future incursions. You can supplement these efforts by adjusting the environment. You can cut back tree and shrub branches that touch your building, move woodpiles out of and away from the house, clean the rain gutters of debris, replace water-damaged wood, check for leaking pipes and appliances, and install storm grates on decks.

Ants are among the most difficult pest to eliminate. However, with time and environment adjustments, most ant problems can be successfully managed.

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