How to identify carpenter ants

how to identify carpenter ants

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants Before the Damage Is Done

Carpenter ants are often mistaken for termite swarmers, particularly during swarms when winged male and female ants fly out of their colony to mate. The most important characteristics to look for when identifying any winged ant are elbowed antennae, a pinched or constricted waist and a front pair of wings that is longer than the back pair. Appearance Length: Carpenter ants are among the largest ants in the United States, ranging from to 13 mm long. More size Color: The most common color is black, but some species have reddish or yellowish coloration. The color also varies Mandibles: Workers have large mandibles.

Please be sure to read the product label of any insecticide you choose to use to get information on the personal protective safety gear you will need. In most situations, it is recommended that you wear long pants, a long sleeved shirt, closed toe shoes with socks, chemical resistant gloves, and goggles.

In areas where ventilation is poor, a manufacturer may recommend you wear a mask or a respirator. We have put together two different safety kits that will make selecting the correct safety gear easier for you. While most folks understand what an ant looks like they may have trouble distinguishing a carpenter ant from a drywood termite. This can be difficult to do because termites and ants do look very much alike, especially during the spring and fall when the winged cast members are starting to fly around to find grounds for a new nest.

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Professional Safety Kit with Comfo Respirator. How big are Carpenter ants? Carpenter ants have noticeable waists Carpenter ants have clubbed or bent antennae Carpenter ants have 6 legs Carpenter ants do not have stingers. There are several species of carpenter ants and how to identify carpenter ants can be found throughout the US. Carpenter ants can be found in dead or damaged trees, stumps and wood piles outside as well as in mulch. Inside, carpenter ants are usually found where wood has retained excess moisture from a leaky pipe or other leak in a wall void.

Carpenter ants leave behind small holes in wood and kick out debris that will include coarse sawdust and insect body parts. Next Inspect.

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Carpenter ants are common across the U.S. and are the largest of all common ant species. However, size will vary, even within a single colony and type: worker ants can be 1/4 inch up to 5/8 inch. A colony's queen can be as large as 1 inch in length. How to recognize carpenter ants: They have a waist with one node (petiole) and a thorax (area behind the head) that is evenly rounded when viewed from the side. Workers are black or red and black. Workers usually range in size from 3/8 to 1/2 inch long; one species is only 3/16 inch. May 27,  · If you start seeing random piles of particles that look like wood shavings, that's a sign you have carpenter ants. (Fun fact: Insect experts call that stuff "frass.") You can identify a carpenter ant from other types by their size. They are big: About 1/2" to 5/8". Carpenter ants also are usually red-black, or all-red, all-black, or all-brown.

Carpenter ants are among the largest ants in Minnesota. There are several species that may be found infesting homes and other buildings. Other ants can be mistaken for carpenter ants. They have one or two nodes and an uneven thorax when viewed in profile.

They usually do not infest wood. Carpenter ants have dark-colored bodies, narrow waists, elbowed bent antennae and hind wings that are shorter than front wings if wings are present. They search for food between sunset and midnight, during spring and summer months. Sometimes workers travel up to yards from a nest in search of food.

Carpenter ants get into houses when they travel back and forth between their main nest and their satellite nests.

In homes, parent nest are found in moist or decayed wood caused by exposure to water leaks, condensation, or poor air circulation. Typical sites include:. Parent carpenter ant colonies sometimes establish one or more satellite nests in nearby indoor or outdoor sites. The workers of satellite colonies move frequently between their nest and the parent colony. Satellite nests are typically composed of workers, pupae and mature larvae.

For this reason, satellite nests can be found in relatively dry locations, such as insulation, hollow doors, sound wood and wall voids the eggs would dry out in lower humidity. It is common to find carpenter ants in homes during spring.

It is important to determine whether the ants are coming from the outside or inside your home. Their presence is not enough to say that there is a nest in your home. Finding carpenter ants in your home during late winter or early spring means the ants are coming from a nest in the building. If you see activity later in the year, it may be less clear if the nest is in the building.

Finding large numbers of winged ants indoors is a sure sign that a nest exists inside your home. However, finding one or just a few winged queens does not mean a nest is present indoors. The queens probably had just mated and entered the home searching for nesting sites. When they land after mating, their wings break off.

Wingless queens found indoors are not an indication of an indoor nest. They are new queens that have recently shed their wings and are still searching for nesting sites. Seeing carpenter ants indoors during winter means that there is an inside nest. Sometimes worker ants are carried in with firewood, but these workers are not able to start nests or cause any damage in homes. When the nest receives enough warmth from sunlight, mild outdoor temperatures or from indoor heat, workers become active at night, searching for moisture, and can be seen around cabinets, sinks, dishwashers, rolled-up towels, bathroom tubs, sink and toilet areas.

On a bright sunny day, ants may be seen walking through different areas of the house. A carpenter ant nest can exist in a house during winter but not be noticed.

If the nest is in a place that does not receive sufficient indoor heat or sunshine, such as a north-facing outside wall, the ants will remain dormant until spring. Carpenter ants damage wood by excavating and creating galleries and tunnels for their nest.

These areas are clean, do not contain sawdust or other debris, and are smooth with a well-sanded appearance. The damage to wood structures is variable. The longer a colony is present in a structure, the greater the damage that can be done. Structural wood can be weakened when carpenter ant damage is severe. Generally, damage occurs slowly, often taking years to occur.

In order to eliminate carpenter ants nesting indoors, you need to locate and destroy their nest. This is often challenging as nests are hidden and not easily discovered. Careful observations of worker ants will help you find the nest.

Observe worker ants between sunset and midnight during spring and summer months. You can increase your chances of following workers to their nest by setting out food that they like.

Many foods are attractive to carpenter ants. The best way to control carpenter ants is to locate and destroy the nest, replace damaged or decayed wood, and eliminate any moisture problems. Eliminating a carpenter ant nest can be difficult because of the hidden nature of the nest. Carpenter ant control is usually best done by an experienced pest management professional.

They have the experience, equipment and a wider array of products to more effectively control a carpenter ant problem. You can help by telling the pest management professional about when, where and how many ants you've seen.

Spraying foraging workers is not effective. It may temporarily reduce the number of ants you see. However, this will not eliminate a nest because:. Nests are often hidden in wall voids, ceilings, subfloors, attics or hollow doors. Don't do this yourself. Determine the nest's location as specifically as possible. Control should not be applied randomly through the home. If the nest is exposed for instance due to remodeling or reroofing , you can use a liquid or aerosol ready-to-use insecticide.

Often, carpenter ant nests found indoors are satellite nests that can be traced back to a parent colony outdoors. Try removing the wood with the parent colony. When that is not possible, contact a professional to treat the carpenter ant nest. Trim branches that overhang buildings or electrical wiring to avoid giving carpenter ants easy access to your home. Parts of a tree can rot or become weak because of insects, disease or drought.

Carpenter ants use knots, cracks, holes and old insect tunnels to find entry into these areas. Control of carpenter ants in trees is important if ants are entering homes from colonies in trees. Contact a pest management professional if control is necessary. In most cases, you need a pest management professional to treat carpenter ants.

Pest management professionals are experienced in inspecting properties, locating nests, baiting techniques and correct application of pesticides. So, they can more effectively and quickly control carpenter ants. They also have access to specialized equipment and insecticides, such as Termidor and Talstar, and they know how to correctly use them. Pest management professionals may also offer services such as sealing or screening holes and crevices to help prevent further carpenter ant activity in homes.

All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Home Insects Household insects Insects that infest homes Carpenter ants. Quick facts Carpenter ants are very common in Minnesota. They can potentially damage homes and other wooden structures. The best method for controlling carpenter ants is to deliver insecticide into their nest.

Because controlling carpenter ants is complex, it's best to hire a pest management professional pest control technician to eliminate nests. Ant or termite? Termites are very uncommon in Minnesota. Workers are light-colored, have broad waists and straight antennae.

They avoid light and are rarely seen outside of their colony. Winged termites, queens and kings, are dark-colored and have wings of equal length.

Open all Close all. What they eat Carpenter ants feed on sources of protein and sugar. Outdoors, they feed on living and dead insects. They feed on a sweet liquid produced by aphids and scale insects, called honeydew.

Indoors, carpenter ants feed on meats and pet food, as well as syrup, honey, sugar, jelly and other sweets. Carpenter ants do not eat wood. They remove wood as they create galleries and tunnels for nesting.

Where they live There are two types of carpenter ant nests: parent nests and satellite nests. Parent nest are usually found outdoors in decaying wood in trees, tree roots, tree stumps and logs or boards lying on or buried in the ground. Areas around windows and where wood parts touch the foundation may also be prone to infestation. Typical sites include: Behind bathroom tiles. Around tubs, sinks, showers and dishwashers. Under roofing, in attic beams and under subfloor insulation.

In hollow spaces such as doors, curtain rods and wall voids. They can also nest in foam insulation. Carpenter ants during spring. Carpenter ants during winter.

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