Carpenter ants are one species of several wood boring insects that homeowners must be on the lookout for. Catching them early will stop the damage they may cause.
What are Carpenter Ants?
Carpenter ants are large, black ants that make their nests inside wooden structures. Although they usually choose items such as trees, logs and tree stumps they sometimes nest in the structure of a house. The wood that they inhabit is always moist and is usually starting to decay. Therefore they inhabit homes that are typically suffering from neglect.
Identifying Carpenter Ants
It can be hard to distinguish a carpenter ant from a regular black ant, but there are a few identifying features. Carpenter ants are large ants that can reach up to ½ inch in length.
Since some male carpenter ants grow wings and fly during the spring, they are sometimes often with termites. The main way to tell the difference between a carpenter ant and a termite is to get close to one. Examine the body to see if the sides are straight or if they come in slightly to form a narrow waist. If the insect has a narrow waist, it is a carpenter ant.
It is usually much easier to identify a carpenter ant nest than it is it identify the ant itself. Carpenter ant nests will always be near a wooden structure or tree of some sort. They are usually in a hole that is exposed to the air and the hole will be surrounded by sawdust.
Carpenter Ant Damage
According to the University of Minnesota Extension, carpenter ants are classified as wood boring insects, much like carpenter bees, because they do not actually eat the wood. They simply chew through the wood to create their nests and tunnels. This tunneling makes an otherwise sound looking piece of wood fragile as a result of carpenter ant damage.
Carpenter ant damage is not usually severe if it is detected and treated early. Carpenter ants are slow borers and may take years to destroy the structure of a solid piece of wood. If left untreated, however, carpenter ant damage affects the structural integrity of homes and trees.
Carpenter Ant Extermination
Regular household pesticide does not kill carpenter ants. Carpenter ant extermination is done using a special carpenter ant spray that is available at most home improvement stores. Sprays that are designed to kill termites will also kill carpenter ants. This spray only kills ants that it comes into contact with, not the entire colony.
To kill the entire colony, use a granular ant killer that is formulated for carpenter ants. Sprinkle the granules around the location of the nest. The worker ants will take it back to the other members of the nest and over time they will die out.
Getting rid of carpenter ants can take time, but using these techniques the colony will eventually be eliminated.