One of the largest types of household ants in the Northeast is the carpenter ant. Several species can be found infesting buildings and homes. The worker ants are typically red or black. Worker ants can be anywhere from three-eighths to one-half inch long, while the winged queen ants can be up to 1 inch in length. However, the sizes of workers and queens can vary; therefore, size alone is not a good identifier. Unlike other types of ants, carpenter ants have one node on their waist, and their thorax has an upper surface that is evenly rounded. Proteins such as meat and sugars such as syrup are all desirable sources of food for carpenter ants. While they can cause damage by creating tunnels in wood, they do not actually eat it.
Most often, the detectable signs of an infestation are the carpenter ant workers and swarmers (winged ants) themselves. Carpenter ant workers can usually be observed as they forage for food. Swarmers most often appear once a colony matures and is ready to begin starting new colonies. The appearance of the winged swarmers is often an indication that the colony is well-established. In addition to seeing the ants themselves, carpenter ant activity is frequently evidenced by the wood debris produced when they make their tunnels. Carpenter ant nesting activity can often be deduced from the observation of rough wood shavings mixed with parts of dead ants. A rustling sound made by carpenter ants actively tunneling in the home’s wood can be a final indication of an infestation.
The first step to remove an infestation of carpenter ants is to locate their nest. Once the nest is found, a pest control expert can create a plan to remove the nest and or treat the next chemically to exterminate the ants. Carpenter ants are attracted to moisture, so any conditions that attracted the ants in the first place must be corrected to prevent re-infestation.
Carpenter ants seldom cause severe structural damage to buildings or houses if the infestation is caught early. However, if these ants remain undiscovered for an extended period, they can cause extreme damage to wooden structures. Therefore, should you discover an infestation; it is advisable to contact a pest control expert as soon as possible. A pest control expert will know how to prevent the ant colony from rebounding after an extermination attempt is made.