(1/4" - 1/2" long) Nesting in damp locations, carpenter ants prefer to excavate wood that has been damaged by water. From their nests in the beams, floors or walls, they scavenge the house for food crumbs and insects. Carpenter ants may occur in several colors, although the most important species are black.
One of the largest members of the ant family, carpenter ants take their name from their habit of chewing passageways (called "galleries") inside wood. They live in these galleries and make excursions, most often at night, to hunt for food and water. These ants often set up satellite colonies inside homes from parent colonies located outside in a tree or landscape timber.
Where You'll Find Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants love damp climates and moist areas – damp wood, any dark void, a few morsels of food. Places that get a lot of rain are especially susceptible. So are homes built in heavily wooded areas or in low, shady places where the ground stays damp. In your home, you're likely to find carpenter ants nesting around a sink in the kitchen or bathroom. Maybe even around plumbing leaks, clogged gutters and downspouts.
A clean house is no guarantee. When carpenter ants move in, the first thing they do is look for food. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat wood. They search for syrup, honey, jelly, meat, fruit, grease, fat, and other domestic foods. If these favorites are not available in your home, the ants will feed on dead or living insects or any other type of organic matter.
To construct their galleries, carpenter ants tear bits of wood and place them outside the nest. These sawdust-looking piles, called frass, may be the first visible sign that carpenter ants are present. Left unchecked for a period of time, these galleries can become quite large. While the primary nest is found in damp wood, carpenter ants establish many satellite colonies. This makes them difficult to control, especially since colonies may be found in any dark void- hollow curtain rods, hollow-core doors, ceilings, dead wall space, etc.
Carpenter ants mature in about two months and immediately start enlarging the nest. First year broods are small, with only 10 to 20 workers. But in a few years, when the colony has thousands of workers, small tunnels become major expressways connecting many hidden galleries. You may not be aware that a strong colony is firmly entrenched in your home until it is too late.
Telltale Signs of Carpenter Ants
- Trails of workers around the kitchen, pantry, and other areas where food is stored
- Sawdust-like material that workers kick out of their nests during excavation
- Listen for ant sounds in the quiet of the night. When the ants are chewing, or simply moving around in the nest, they make a sound like rustling cellophane.
If you see or hear any of these signs, you may have carpenter ants.
You need to have a well-constructed plan for dealing with carpenter ants. If you suspect carpenter ants have invaded your home, it's best to seek immediate treatment. Professionals make a thorough inspection of your home, inside and out. Depending on your home's construction and the location of the main nest and satellite colonies, these professionals will use a variety of methods to treat the problem. Treatments around the outside of the home along with some gel bait treatments inside are often used. Click here to watch carpenter ants devouring gel bait.
This bait can bring a quick end to an ant colony!
Pavement ants are small ants about 1/8th inch long and dark brown to black in color. They are found throughout the eastern half of the US and are a major pest in the upper Midwest. The name for this ant comes from its habit of nesting under sidewalks and driveways and piling dirt removed from the nest in a mound on top of the pavement.
In addition to nesting under sidewalks, pavement ants colonies can be found under other items lying on top of the ground, including stones, logs, boards, bricks and patio blocks. They may nest in open soil close to building foundations or under mulch in landscaped beds. Only rarely do the ants nest indoors in walls, under floors or in insulation.
Control of pavement ants should begin with an attempt to locate the nest site. Ants entering buildings from outdoors can be discouraged by sealing as many cracks and gaps in exterior walls as possible. Also, correct poor foundation drainage and repair water leaks.
Odorous House Ants
Odorous house ants are small ants about 1/8th inch long and dark brown in color. They are found throughout the US and in spite of their name, are only an occasional pest in the house. Their name comes from the disagreeable odor similar to the smell of rotten coconuts that is given off when the worker ants are crushed.
Odorous house ants commonly nest outdoors in the soil under stones, logs, mulch, debris and other items. They will also nest indoors in wall and floor voids, particularly in moist or warm areas. If only a few workers (wingless ants) are observed in the house it is an indication that they are nesting outdoors and entering the house in search of food. If winged swarmers are found indoors, or if workers are consistently seen in great abundance, it likely indicates they are nesting within the house.
Control of odorous house ants should begin with an attempt to locate the origin of the ants. Careful and frequent observation may be necessary to develop an opinion about the source. Ants entering from outdoors can be discouraged by sealing as many cracks and gaps in exterior walls as possible.
Pharaoh ants are very small in size, and light yellow to red in color with black markings on abdomen. Due to their extremely small size, they can be found in a diversity of places, appearing suddenly. They have a wide range of foraging and their nest are usually well hidden. They are very persistent, with large colonies.
Inside they are usually found in the kitchen and bathrooms, but workers are seen trailing along window sills, and baseboards. They can also be spotted near sources of water in the kitchen and bathrooms, counter tops, toilets,drains and sinks. They prefer to nest in recessed areas like wall voids,under some appliance, wall outlets, under carpet for protection, but they can also nest outdoors in lawns and gardens.