What You Need to Know About Carpenter Ants

carpenter antsTermites are probably the most well-known wood damaging structural pests, but they’re far from the only ones. Carpenter Ants can cause just as much damage as termites. Carpenter ants are extremely common in the Chicago area, while termites are not as common,

Carpenter ants make their nests in wood, and they are common pests for homes and businesses alike. Once you’ve identified an infestation and taken the necessary measures to eradicate it, you can make your home secure against these invaders so you don’t need to worry about future problems.

Here’s what you need to know about identifying, exterminating, and preventing carpenter ant infestations.

How to Identify Them

While carpenter ants and termites have some similar habits and habitats, there are easy ways to tell them apart.

One of the easiest ways to tell these insects apart is by examining their damage. Carpenter ant nests are smooth and carved. You might see little window holes surrounded by sawdust, or frass, where the ants have pushed out the wood shavings to excavate their tunnels. Termites, on the other hand, eat the wood. They consume the soft wood between the annual rings leaving the rings behind and these voids between the annual rings can become clogged with debris from frass and other things such as dirt.

When you spot the insects, especially if you see a swarm, you will have no trouble telling them apart. Swarmers are the reproductive members of the colony, the new queens and kings, so to speak. Swarmers of both types have wings, so you’ll need to take a closer look at the insects’ bodies. Termite swarmers are small where Carpenter Ant reproductives are rather large, the queens can be over an inch long. Antenna positioning and body shape differs between these two insects.

How to Treat Ant Bites

As you might expect of creatures that can tunnel through wood, carpenter ants pack a powerful bite. When they feel threatened, carpenter ants defend themselves by biting and injecting the victim with formic acid. While formic acid isn’t a big threat to humans, it can sting and give a burning sensation. This is fairly rare but it does happen from time to time.

Of course, if you can avoid ant bites in the first place, doing so is the best course of action. Make a special effort to keep children and small animals away from nests. While the ant bites aren’t particularly dangerous, one or many bites from defensive carpenter ants could make a small being miserable.

How to Get Rid of an Infestation

Carpenter ants are hardy little creatures, and you’ll likely need help from a pest control professional to exterminate them. Your extermination options will differ depending on where the nests are located.

If the nests are easy to find, a pest control professional can use an aerosol or a liquid insecticide. The insecticide is sprayed directly into the nest and along any surfaces and paths that the ants regularly travel, such as cracks in the walls, floor, or baseboards. You must hire a professional for this type of extermination because these insecticides are not available to the public.

Unfortunately, nests are not always easy to locate because carpenter ants like to live in wood and that wood is most likely outside, it could even be off your property. Carpenter Ants do use satellite colony sites in conjunction with their main colony site. These satellite colonies take advantage of voids such as between walls and under floors.

In this situation Carpenter Ant bait is likely your best option. Ants take food back to the colony to share it with the others and feed any larvae. When a slow-acting toxin is combined with a tasty snack, ants will carry it back to their colony to share the food, thereby poisoning the rest of the colony.

It can take weeks or even months for a toxic bait to eliminate an entire colony, so if you’re in a hurry, insecticide may be a better option. A professional pest control expert can advise you on the best course of action for your schedule and the severity of the infestation.

How to Prevent More From Moving In

Extermination is only effective if you can keep a new ant colony from moving into the building. Carpenter ants are attracted to moist wood, which is where they build their parent colonies and raise their young. If you have any leaky faucets or pipes in your home, a damaged roof, or other water related issues you will want to have them repaired to eliminate these attractive environments.

Carpenter ants don’t eat wood; they need another food source. Sanitation is very important when you have an ant problem especially if you are depending upon baits to eliminate the colony. You will also want to keep all human and pet food safely enclosed in containers. Also, make sure to eliminate any easy movement from outside wood sources, such as trees or firewood. Fire wood should be moved away from the house and trees should be trimmed to avoid any direct contact with the home.

Do you have a carpenter ant infestation on your property? Contact A-Alert Exterminating Service, Inc., for eco-friendly pest control solutions.

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