Carpenter Ants

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Identification

  • Colour Reddish brown to dull black, ranging in hues from red to yellow
  • Size Up to 1 inch or 25 millimetres long (workers can be 3 to 13 mm), nearly 5 times the size of a typical pavement ant or black garden ant.
  • Body Carpenter ants have six legs and a single, narrow segment connects a bulbous abdomen and a smooth, evenly-rounded thorax.
Carpenter Ant on White Background

General Facts

All carpenter ants have large mandibles that open horizontally like scissors and a pair of elbow-shaped antennae. The most effective way to identify a carpenter ant is by looking at the petiole and the thorax. A carpenter ant’s petiole has one node, which makes the area between the thorax and abdomen look like a small notch. Other worker ants that can be mistaken for carpenter ants have two-node petioles. Additionally, the thorax of the carpenter ant is evenly rounded, whereas other ant species have a bumpy thorax. Properly identifying a carpenter ant can be difficult without close inspection.

 

Why do I have carpenter ants?

Carpenter ants nest in moist wood under decks, on porches, around windows, inside roofs, and in other areas which are exposed to the weather. These pest seek protection from predators and the weather, as well as easy access to sources of food.

These pests feed on other insects, both alive and dead, as well as plant nectars and juices, honeydew, syrup, jelly, sugar, salt, fruits, meat, grease, and fat. In the homes, they are attracted to meats, sugar, honey, jelly, grease spills and pet food.

They usually enter homes and other buildings through cracks and other openings in the foundation or along tree branches abutting the roof.

How worried should I be about carpenter ants?

Renowned excavators, carpenter ants use their powerful jaws to loosen and remove wood debris when tunneling or building nests. This means chewing through wood in the home, and hollowing out decorative and structural material, causing huge damage.

When they chew on the wood, they also discard the shavings, which pile up like sawdust beneath the entrance hole of the nest.

While carpenter ants rarely bite humans, their mandibles can tear through human skin, spraying formic acid in the process, causing a burning sensation.Reaction to carpenter ants bites various from individual to individual; which in most cases is mild.

Although carpenter ants can take time to do significant, you only need to spot a few large ants to be sure there is an established colony somewhere in your home. To eliminate this infestation properly and keep the ants away, you need professional pest control services.

How can I prevent carpenter ants invading?

Remove wood debris from around the house, Move wood piles away from structures, Trim back surrounding trees and shrubbery, Check gutters and downspouts are free-flowing, Clean up crumbs and food spills immediately

How do carpenter ant colonies develop?

Nest building and colony formation begins when after mating with a male, a fertilized winged females lands, sheds off her wings and finds a suitable nesting location, which is usually in decaying wood of hollow trees or logs, including manmade wood structures, which causes damage to the property.

Once a suitable nest location is found, the queen lays first batch of eggs (15 – 20). She feeds and tends to the larvae which eventually develop into sterile workers that take over all nest-building duties. While workers forage for food, excavate the nest, and care for young carpenter ants, the queen concentrates on egg production. Egg production usually doubles following the first brood.

Once the nest is mature, the carpenter ant queen lays eggs that develop into reproductively capable males and females. A nest often takes several years to mature and usually needs about 3,000 workers before the queen begins a new reproduction cycle.

What does a carpenter ant queen look like?

The carpenter ant queen is a fertilized, functional female of the colony. She is wingless, about 13 -25 mm long, colour is dependent on species but often range from dark brown, reddish, yellow, or black tones. Similar in appearance to worker ants, the queen’s body is divided into a head, thorax, and abdomen, or gaster. The queen is solely responsible for producing offspring and the keeping the colony together. Most carpenter ant species have one functional queen per colony; however some species have multiple queens.

Do carpenter ants fly?

Like other ant species found in Canada, carpenter ants are social insects that live in large colonies formed of three castes; workers, males and queens.

The most common carpenter ants encountered in the home are the workers and are wingless foragers of food. Worker ants cannot fly. As the name suggests workers ants exist to work. They build and repair the nest, feed and defend the colony, and care for the queen and her brood.

Carpenter ant queens form the highest caste. The founding functional queen is wingless and does not fly. Carpenter ant colonies produce winged male and female reproductives that emerge and swarm during the spring or early summer, they mate during such nuptial flights. Mated females land, shed off their wings and locate a suitable site to start new colonies, meanwhile the males die.

What do carpenter ants eat?

Carpenter ants are predators that will feed on other insects, both alive and dead. Their diet also includes a range of plant nectars and juices, honeydew, syrup, jelly, sugar, salt, fruits, meat, grease, and fat. These are guests you don’t want to invite to your barbecue!

The common name of the carpenter ant refers to the excavating abilities of the insect rather than the diet of the pest. When carpenter ants excavate tunnels from wooden structures, the destructive insects merely chew on the wood and then discard the shavings, which pile up like sawdust beneath the entrance hole of the nest. In the natural environment outdoors, carpenter ants eat small insects and other invertebrates, plant juices, and the sweet honeydew secreted by aphids. Worker ants are responsible for supplying the entire carpenter ant colony with enough food and must leave the nest regularly to forage.

When searching for food, carpenter ants may forage in areas as far as 100 yards away from the nest. They use pheromones to mark their foraging trails. The great distances traveled by foraging carpenter ants often puts the pest insects in direct contact with the homes of Canadian residents. Carpenter ants enter homes and other buildings through cracks and other openings in the foundation or via tree branches abutting the roof. Once inside, foraging ants search for and take from a variety of food sources. Because carpenter ants feed on proteins as well as carbohydrates, the omnivorous insects raid kitchens for meats, sugar, and syrupy ingredients like honey and jelly. Carpenter ants are also drawn to the grease spills and pet food commonly found in many homes throughout Canada.

Do carpenter ants bite humans?

Carpenter ants do not have stings therefore they do not sting people. However, they use their formidable mandibles to defend their nests when attacked.

Carpenter ants rarely bite humans; the powerful jaws of a worker can bite and tear through human skin; the bite inflicted is sprayed with formic acid which gives a burning sensation. Reaction to carpenter ants bites various from individual to individual; which in most cases is mild. While occurrences of carpenter ants biting people prove rare, cases do exist in which humans have sustained bites

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