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The walls have ears. Hollowed out spaces in wood are used as nests. Nests are first made in decayed wood and then enlarged into sound wood. Indoors, nests are in wood (perhaps softened by fungus/rot), insulation and wall voids. Outdoors, nests are in old firewood, rotting fence posts, stumps, dead portions of living trees, and under stones and logs. A colony has a main nest connected to satellite nests by a cleared trail about 1/4 inch wide.
Why eat lumber when you can live in it? These ants do not eat wood. They live within it. Outdoors, they consume plant juices, insects, honeydew produced by insects, and spiders. If they are foraging indoors, they can consume sweets, grease, meat and eggs. They can follow a regular trail when foraging or can appear as solitary foragers, appearing on your kitchen counter individually.
Now Entering Carpenter Antville: Population 10,000-20,000. Although large in size, mature colonies have up to 100,000 ants and usually only one functional, wingless queen per colony. Development from egg to adult takes at least 60 days. Swarmers aren't produced until the colony matures. In the West, swarmers may appear between February and June.
Carpenter ants can weaken structures by hollowing wood for nests. They are capable of inflicting painful bites, but that is a rare occurrence.
Carpenter ants enter structures through doors, windows, pipes, utility wires, and branches of trees or shrubs that touch the structure.
Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Inspection is important, as this species of ant commonly nests in hollow voids such as the interior of walls, hollow-core doors and various void areas in attics or sub-areas. Listening devices can be helpful in locating the nest(s).
Small piles of wood shavings mixed with insect parts or insulation can mark nesting locations. Many times, an interior nest is a satellite of the original colony located outside. Watch for foraging trails outside, which are most active at night. Be alert to the emergence of swarmers that are common in mating season — February through June. Check attics, basements and crawl spaces. These ants can also enter structures on wires and pipes. Locate high moisture areas (a moisture meter can be useful). Once nests are located, appropriate treatments with aerosol or dust formulations can be made. Depending on location of infestation, preparation may be necessary. Parent colony must be located and destroyed by removing or treating directly with an appropriate registered pesticide, which may also require drilling into wood or wall voids. Preventative measures include barrier treatment with registered pesticides, pruning of plants near buildings, caulking of gaps on the structure, and treating the lowest 3-6 feet of tree trunks and utility poles. Contacting the insects with the material is essential to control. When using any pesticide, be sure it is registered for the target pest/location. Read the entire label prior to use. Follow all label directions, restrictions and precautions.
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