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Get Rid of Carpenter Ants this Winter

Despite popular belief, ant problems can persist during the winter, especially if your home in Rhode Island has damaged or dry wood to attract them and cause damage. Native to the United States, this 1/2 inch long species can invade your home during the summer and establish a nest, even without you noticing.

Carpenter ants destroy fortunes worth of property, often going completely undetected while they do so. We will help you know the enemy facing your property, how to identify insect presence in your home and what to do about infestations when they happen.

When total infiltration of ants has occurred inside the walls, professional pest management may be necessary to control the infestation. Exercise extreme caution when selecting professional insect management. The Environmental Protection Agency, at this site, has excellent ways to help you choose which pest company is right for you to help with a carpenter ant infestation.

Ant Facts | Know Ants, Eliminate Ants

Appearance

There are around 1,000 ant species in the United States, so it is important to identify which type of ant you've discovered.

  • Coloration | They usually have solid colors like black, red, or brown; or a combination of black and red
  • Body size ranges from 1/4-1/2 inch long, though some kinds are larger
  • Colony size can range from 10,000 to 50,000 or more, but colony size depends
  • Queen | There is usually only one wingless queen per colony.

Evidence

  • You may find sawdust or wooden shavings lying around, or you may discover damaged wood around or inside your home
  • Carpenter ant tunnels have a smooth, almost sanded look to them, and are obviously unnatural carvings (i.e., not part of the wood while it grew) in the wood
  • You may see swarms of flying ants inside or around your home, which is a certain indicator of local infestation; especially if they swarm in your home, you are sure to have a major ant problem
  • If you see an ant crawling in your kitchen, there is no question of a major infestation

Lifestyle

  • Tunnels | Carpenter ants don't eat wood but chew through it with their strong jaws. They prefer damp wood softened by decay but will use hard, dry wood, too.
  • Life in Walls | If they have found a home in wall voids, they can live for decades without foraging or appearing because they don't need sunlight to survive, just food and water. Modern residential construction allows water pipes to sweat without causing mold problems, (just like a cold glass of water sweats on a hot day), and sugar- and protein-based glues are also in the walls, which could sustain the colony for decades before requiring foraging parties to locate another food source.
  • Swarming | When the colony reaches optimal sizes, the queen will produce reproductive ants with wings, a process usually called swarming. After they find a mate, each reproductive ant establishes a new colony elsewhere.
  • Workers | Ant colonies have workers to build their nests and forage for food, and carpenter ant workers will go great distances, as far as 300 feet or more, to find food, water, and supplies. Every member of the colony works tirelessly to supply, defend, and nurture the others.
  • Satellite Colonies | When the ant colony is large and old enough, it starts satellite colonies with workers, eggs, larvae, and pupae to find food, which makes it harder to determine if an infestation has the queen or if it's a satellite.

Ant Cuisine

  • Carpenter ants do not eat wood like termites, but they use their powerful jaws to carve tunnels. Termites have bacteria in their gut that helps digest the cellulose in the wood
  • Main food sources include fruit, other insects, the juice from other insects, and their favorite foods are protein- or sugar-based foods
  • Because they eat the sugars and proteins in the walls, a satellite nest or main colony can live for at least a decade before a single ant shows itself

Ant or Termite?

Commonalities

  • Both species excavate wood and damage huge amounts and thousands of dollars of wood
  • Termites and carpenter ants swarm when the colony is mature enough; the queen will produce winged kings and queens that fly away to establish a new colony elsewhere, which usually happens in the spring
  • Both have six legs, large jaws, and a colony hierarchy

Distinctions

  • Termites don't have eyes, but ants have two large optical orbs on their heads
  • Ant antennae have an elbow in the middle, but termite antennae are composed of ten or more beads without an elbow bend
  • When an entire nest of termites is decimated, a worker or soldier could develop into a king or queen and start another colony, but if the ant queen dies without a replacement, the colony could collapse
  • Carpenter ants produce formic acid from their abdomen during a fight, but most termites do not. Some soldier termites have a spout on their heads used to spray enemies or colony intruders
  • Termites feed on wood, but ants feed on insects, fruit, or meat

Ant Control: Get Rid of Ants Yourself

To get rid of ants on your own is hard to do if you don't have professional help or advice. However, there are a few things you can do on your own.

  • There are over-the-counter ant baits, especially carpenter ant baits that attract ants without making them suspicious of the poison. They take this back to the nest and cause mass casualties
  • Do everything you can to find the main carpenter ant nest by giving the ants honey or bread and follow them back to the nest. Drill holes into the wall or tree they return to, and ...
  • Inject products containing boric acid into the nest: Boric acid is a chemical used in common household products and it deadly
  • Seal your home of entry points near the foundation and around windows and doors and utility pipe entry points, and trim tree limbs, shrubs, bushes, and hedges at least one foot from the house siding.
  • Place firewood piles on a platform 20 feet from the house and raised one foot off the ground

Professional Ant Control

Fox Pest Control can provide the peace of mind you crave with our Home Protection Plan. Your home and family are safe in the hands of our well-trained, licensed Pest Pro Technicians, so call today for a free quote and get rid of ants for good.

Posted on December 16, 2019.

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