Carpenter ants live in colonies with strict hierarchical organization. The colonies are made up of queens, workers, and males, each with different roles and appearances. The queen is the largest insect of the colony, while the workers have a morphology that varies depending on their role. As a result, it is complicated to identify the species of ant that has infected your home by relying only on size.
Carpenter ants chew wood to make their nests. However, they don’t eat wood like termites. They eat sweet foods, pet food, and other insects. Carpenter ants are generally found in wooded areas and nest in moist wood and tree stumps. They can also be found inside homes: in wooden doors, ceiling beams, floor beams, under baths and in the attic.
The difference between carpenter ants and termites
Homeowners often confuse carpenter ants with termites. However, it is very easy to tell the difference. Carpenter ants have angled antennas while termite antennas are straight. There’s also a difference between the types of damage they cause to wood. Carpenter ants produce sawdust as a result of chewing while termites produce small pellets.
Development and Behaviours
Carpenter ants only have one queen per colony. Everything starts with the flight of a huge quantity of sexually mature adults that mate during flight, called “swarming”. After mating, the female that is now the queen loses her wings and looks for an ideal spot to lay her first eggs: a dying tree, a rotting stump, or sometimes inside a building. It is important to know that carpenter ants are not termites, they don’t eat wood. Rather, they hollow out places to create either a main colony or a satellite colony (one without a queen).
It takes at least three years for a colony to reach maturity. At that point, it contains at least 2,000 worker ants. The queen begins to produce, at the end of each summer, sexually mature, winged insects destined to start colonies of their own.
Carpenter ants then dig their nests in places ideal for their expansion, such as an insulating urethane panel or a piece of wood whose density has been affected by humidity, making it easier to hollow out places within the latter.
A house may be infested by ants in four ways:
- A queen can arrive in your house and found a new colony
- A colony or part of a colony can migrate as a result of major stress
- Material containing ants, such as firewood is taken into the house
- A satellite nest is formed, without a queen. That is the most frequent cause in Quebec.
Here are some tips to help prevent a carpenter ant infestation:
- Make sure to leave your firewood outside your home, in a location away from the building.
- Keep wood debris away from your home.
- Fix, if necessary, any problems caused by water infiltration, because they damage wood structures and carpenter ants are attracted to moist wood
- Keep food in sealed containers.
- Clean your kitchen floor and countertops regularly to remove traces of food.
- Make sure to cut the tree branches around your property so that they don’t touch your house.
- Repair cracks on the outside of your property and seal the edges of your doors and windows.
If it is too late and you have a carpenter ant infestation at home, here are some recommendations:
- Carefully survey the area to find where the ant nest is.
- Modify the conditions that favor the proliferation of carpenter ants: eliminate all rotten or infested wood around the building.
- If ants come from outside to get food in the building, a seasonal outside treatment could solve the problem. When ants are present in your home, a plan that is environmentally friendly and safe for all inhabitants will be established with you by a V Extermination technician.
If you notice the presence of carpenter ants in your home, contact us now for a free estimate. V Extermination's team of professional exterminators offers a prevention and extermination service that is perfectly suited to your needs inside and outside your home.