This article is a continuation of a series of articles about the ants. Here in detail about carpenter ants, and how to get rid of carpenter ants. Considered the most popular and safe for human methods of dealing with carpenter ants, preventive measures.
- 1 Why carpenter ants are dangerous?
- 2 Carpenter ants habitat
- 3 How do you kill carpenter ants?
- 4 Carpenter ants vs. termites
- 5 How to get rid of carpenter ants naturally?
- 6 Special methods against carpenter ants
- 7 Preventive measures against carpenter ants
Why carpenter ants are dangerous?
Carpenter ants are primarily forest dwellers, but they often settle near occupied buildings, causing significant damage.
- They normally find places like rotted wood, using it only for nesting and never eat it. Nevertheless, they grind through the timber making tunnels and galleries for their nests.
- Carpenter ants also bite with their massive mandibles though they do so very rarely and only as protection.
- The ants carry disease-causing microorganisms.
A Carpenter ant infestation may result in log house damage. Unlike termites, ants are incapable of destroying your house, but they can weaken wooden beams.
Carpenter ants habitat
It is natural for carpenter ants to reside in forests. However, if a log house is in a woodland, they can visit it and even build a nest inside. The ants are frequently found in window frames, roof eaves and other places that are mostly defenceless. They can also be found nearly leaky faucets in the bathtub or sink. Ants’ nests may be found outside the house – in tree trunks and stumps. Carpenter ants can invade your house from a parent nest, which is sometimes situated 300 metres away.
What do carpenter ants look like?
Carpenter ants usually are red or black in colour. Some of them also have reddish-brown or yellowish shades. There are also definite castes of the ants, depending on their role in the nest.
- Ants’ queens are winged only during the swarming period. After the first mating, they bite off their wings and seek refuge in rotten wood to start a new colony. The queen feeds only her first rafting. Then, her task will be to lay eggs. The queens are 15 mm in length, and have black, brown, or yellow body colour.
- Males are winged mature ants, but they are smaller in size – about 8-10 mm. Males are born from unfertilized eggs. The male’s only task is to mate with a future queen during a nuptial flight. Soon afterwards, males die.
- Workers can be large or small. Large-sized workers defend the colony. Smaller ones repair and build the nest, chewing through the wood and looking for better places. They also care for the queen and larvae. Worker ants are often seen outside of the refuge. They have no wings but do have mandibles. They also move larvae and pupae to safer places.
What do carpenter ants eat?
Carpenter ants never feed on cellulose and wood. They exploit this material exclusively for drilling galleries along with its grains.
Their main diet consists of honeydew, which is produced by aphids. The ants prefer dead insects, including members of their colony. When carpenter ants invade a person’s house, they usually search for sweet things that are rich in carbohydrates. But they also like meat and fat. Water is also essential for these creatures. The ants gather around sinks, baths and dishwashers to get drops of water.
How do you kill carpenter ants?
This task can be quite challenging for non-professionals, because it demands attention to every detail. Learn more about how to get rid of ants in this article.
Signs of carpenter ants’ infestation
Carpenter ants are night “hunters”, but sometimes you may notice them during the daytime. Some species in your house are not necessarily pests; they may be some sort of spies to examine a new place or delicious food. You can suspect carpenter ants to be permanent dwellers when you see them regularly and in large quantities.
There are specific footprints of carpenter ants.
- Discarded wings outside or inside the house.
- Little piles of ants’ frass, which closely resembles sand or sawdust.
- The special sound of the timber when you tap on it. It is caused by scared ants, warning other siblings about the danger.
- Tunnels and pathways in the wood construction. You’ll hardly guess that your house has already been damaged by the ants until you cut out the suspected piece of timber and have a look at it. Ants’ galleries are clean and smooth while termites’ tunnels are applied with special mud or sticky substance.
Carpenter ants vs. termites
|Carpenter ants||Both are active in spring and in summer||Wings – one pair is smaller than the other one.|
Body – the head is definitely separated from the intestine by means of thin waist (thorax).
|Never eat wood. But digest different kinds of food – meat, honey dew, sugar and other insects.||Quite active. Ant workers crawl out of the nest seeking food everywhere.|
Create rustling sound when you tap wooden structure.
|Termites||Two pairs of identical wings.|
The body has smooth lines with a broad waist.
|Feed on cellulose, which is a part of dead timber construction and paper.||Practically invisible, lead a hideous and silent life. Can’t bear open air and sun. That’s why they build mud tubes in order to reach the desired wood far from the nest.|
If you know that you have ants in your house, but not termites, you can identify and destroy their home, together with the queen and larvae. It is useless to kill working ants immediately with sprays and quickly-acting baits. By doing so, you will cause ants’ spreading about your house and creating so-called satellite colonies.
The best way to rid of carpenter ants is to find and kill the queen. If it is difficult or impossible, apply baits and insecticides with prolonged action. The main idea of such measures is to contaminate the entire ants’ family.
How to get rid of carpenter ants naturally?
There are effective, but pets- and children-friendly treatments against carpenter ants. They are based on natural components and presented with:
- Diatomaceous Earth (DE). It is a powder, consisting of microscopic diatom relics. This natural bait desiccates ants causing their death. Disperse diatomaceous powder in the ants’ nests. You also need to reapply the bait regularly for about a week to exterminate the whole colony. Though diatomaceous earth does not harm humans, don’t inhale it while covering the surfaces.
- Boric acid. It tears off the ants’ exoskeleton. It is a very effective natural treatment against ants. But if borax is used in large quantities, it causes the immediate death of the insects. The aim is to kill the pest colony. Therefore, it is better to lessen the amount of boric acid in the bait. The pests will eat the poison and carry it to other parts of their colony. The only bad thing is that it will take about 2 weeks to wipe out the unwelcomed guests.
- Orange oil. It kills ants by destroying their respiratory systems. Spray it in their favourite places or clean the surfaces in your house to stop the ants. You can use either essential orange oil, purchased in the store, or make your own. It is non-toxic and has a very pleasant scent. You should still be careful with orange oil since it may produce an allergic reaction.
Special methods against carpenter ants
For stubborn insects or difficult infestations, use chemical stations and baits. There is a wide range of insecticides, baits, sprays, gels and granules to fight carpenter ants. Remember not to use sprays and bait stations together, as these methods act very differently. Insecticides and liquid treatments have high toxicity for ants and, unfortunately, for pets and people. But they tend to kill the pests immediately. By using baits, you can eliminate the whole colony, by having contaminated a few working ants. Bait systems are usually low-toxic and have prolonged action.
Here are the most popular chemical treatments against ants:
- Advance carpenter ant bait. The active component is Abamectin that gradually destroys the insects’ nervous system.
- Maxforce bait gel. This gel attracts ants thanks to its resemblance to their favourite honeydew. This slow-action killer is carried into the ants’ population, completely destroying the organisms. After 3-5 days your house will be free of pests.
- For outside treatment, there are products such as Taurus SC and FUSE. They both have non-repellent action, which means slower but guaranteed eradication.
- Alpine PT Aerosol, Alpine Ant and Termite Foam. These products are applied in places where you expect ants’ nests. The treatment is injected into hollow wood space.
Preventive measures against carpenter ants
After exterminating, you should defend your house from a new wave of ants’ infestation. Follow these simple tips:
- Keep food inaccessible for ants; remove all crumbs from the kitchen countertops and floor.
- Cut out dead trees and stumps in your garden.
- Don’t let tree branches reach your house roof.
- Remove dead leaves and debris in your backyard.
- Fix leaking taps and tubes as moisture and rotted timber attract various pests that can damage your property.
- Use natural treatments while cleaning the house, for example, peppermint or cinnamon. You can also use vinegar and even baby powder against ants. Though these means won’t kill the insects, they will stop them from invading your property.