Carpenter Ants

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Carpenter Ants: These Guys Are No Fun To Have Around

The two most common species of Carpenter Ants in the Greater Victoria area are Camponotus modoc and Camponotus vicinus.

Both species can cause significant structural damage. Carpenter ants are usually large and can range in size from 7mm to over 20mm. C. modoc tend to be a very large black ant. C. vicinus is also a large ant, with a black head and abdomen and orange to red coloured thorax (middle section). Their nests or colonies can be as small as a few hundred ants to as large as 100,000 or more ants.

Carpenter ants can be seen around a house or structure early in the spring and summer. Sometimes winged carpenter ants appear or swarm. They are leaving the nest to establish new colonies. If winged ants are seen coming out of a particular area, there is likely the nest close by. If winged ants are found inside that is a good indication there is a nest in the structure. Winged ants are generally not produced until a colony is at least 3 to 5 years old. A swarm may indicate a well-established nest.


carpenter ants

Contrary to popular belief carpenter ants do not eat wood. They feed on a variety of food containing either protein or carbohydrates. Some examples of these foods could include things like, honey, sugar, meat, grease, aphids and dead insects. Of the entire colony, which may have thousands of individuals, only 5 to 10% will be out looking for food.

Carpenter ants nest in wood, or cavities or soft materials. They excavate galleries in wood or other materials by chewing but they discard the debris (called frass) outside the nest. Frass often looks very similar to saw dust. Frass may sometimes be found under a hole or other opening but is often discarded inside wall voids.

Environmental modifications may help to prevent a carpenter ant infestation. Examples of modifications include repairs to leaking roofs or plumbing, removing any rotting wood, trimming all vegetation so it doesn’t touch the house, ensuring adequate ventilation in crawl spaces and attics, and storing firewood off the ground, away from the house. Other site-specific information can be discussed during an inspection.

Warning Signs of a Carpenter Ant infestation

If you observe one or more of these signs, you may have a carpenter ant infestation:

  1. Medium to large sized black ants are spotted in or around your home in the winter months and reappear again in early spring, in April or May.
  2. Large ants are in bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, hallways and kitchen floors though they usually avoid food cupboards.
  3. Small piles of fine sawdust-like material below window frames or on floor around exposed wooden products.
  4. Hearing faint sounds in a wall or a window casing.
  5. Observing the large ants moving in an organized way around any opening on the interior or exterior of your home.
In general, the longer a carpenter ant colony lives inside or around your home, the more structural damage they can do. If you observe any of these signs, call Garden City Pest Control.


Carpenter Ant Diet

While carpenter ants can cause a great deal of damage to wooden structures, they do not actually eat wood. Carpenter ants like to nest in moist wood, including tree roots, stumps and rotting trees, as well as logs and boards lying on or buried in the ground. The wood is damaged by the ants’ burrowing to create galleries and tunnels. Any moist or decayed wood inside a building is an invitation to carpenter ant infestation.


Damage Caused By Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants cause damage by burrowing through and excavating wooden structures in order to create and tunnels and structures called galleries. The amount of damage caused can vary in the degree, but the longer a colony is active, obviously the more damage that can be done. If wood used in structures is already weakened or compromised by moisture damage, for example, the carpenter ant only intensifies the severity.


Controlling Carpenter Ants

The easiest and most effective way to control carpenter ant activity is to find and destroy their nest. Any damaged or decayed wood must be replaced and any causes of moisture problems must be eliminated. The location of a carpenter ant nest can be difficult to spot and sometimes quite challenging, and should be done by an experienced pest control professional such as Garden City Pest Control.

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