Carpenter ants are common in Texas all year around. They naturally live in trees but can also invade homes to build their nests in wooded areas. The nesting of carpenter ants in homes indicates rotting or moisturized wood.
Carpenter ant infestations are not directly harmful to humans or pets, but they can cause harm to your home's structure. Carpenter ants can become a nuisance when you don't get rid of them early.
What Is a Carpenter Ant?
A carpenter ant is an outdoor and indoor insect that builds colonies in wood. These ants attack wood and make a hollow space for their nests. Carpenter ants don't feed on wood like other pests, though.
Carpenters ants are not usually dangerous, but their infestations can weaken tree branches. These ants mostly invade already damaged trees.
They become pests when they enter homes and buildings, searching for food and water. Carpenter ants create nestings in the property where they find the food source. This invasion soon turns into a heavy infestation when not treated on time.
How to Identify Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants are comparatively larger in size than normal ants. Adult carpenter ants have a varying length range. Worker ants are about 1⁄4 to ⅝ inch, and winged kings and queens are up to ¾ inch.
You can also identify carpenter ants by their color. They can be yellowish-red, reddish-orange, solid black, or black-red.
Their body structure is also different from other ants. There is only one node between their abdomen and thorax. The abdomen has a circle of hairs on the tip, and the thorax has an uneven, round shape.
Winged carpenter ants look like winged termites, which are wood-destroying pests. These pests don't usually infest a home at the same time, though. It is important to differentiate between them to take accurate preventive measures.
Ants have a constricted body structure with only one segment between the thorax and abdomen. Termite's abdomens are joined to the thorax. Ants have unequal wings, with the front pair being longer than the other. The wings of termites are equal.
Carpenter ants have bent antennae, while termites have straight antennae with bead-like segments.
Where Do Carpenter Ants Live?
Carpenter ants nest in hollow trees, logs, wooden areas in homes, and landscaping timbers. They use these places as shelters for their eggs and larvae.
These ants make colonies when they identify moisture levels in woods. This situation promotes the growth and development of ants' eggs, pupae, and larvae. This is why you find the nests of carpenter ants in woody areas with higher moisture.
Carpenter ants attack homes through crevices and cracks of windows and walls. They also enter through air-conditioning and ventilation ducts.
Carpenter ants are commonly found in:
- Wood between the roof and the ceiling in porches
- Wood damaged by improper flashing, clogged gutters, and water seepage
- Plumbing areas in bathrooms and kitchens
- Poor ventilation areas, such as crawl spaces, porches, and attics
- Insulation or hollow places in bathtubs or showers
- Voids in wooden doors, shower rods, curtain rods, ceilings
- Door framing
Carpenter ants invade properties at night. They follow through the tree branches, fence rails, water hoses, garden edging, and other narrow pathways to enter indoor structures.
What Attracts Carpenter Ants?
Carpenter ants eat various plant-based and animal foods. They are omnivorous.
Ants are attracted to:
- Fresh fruits
- Aphids' honeydew
- Plant-sucking insects
- Plant juices
Carpenter ants can't digest the cellulose of wood like termites.
Are Carpenter Ants Dangerous for Humans and Pets?
Carpenter ants are not harmful to humans and pets as they usually don't bite. In rare cases, the bite may result in a burning sensation that resides for a few minutes.
Carpenter ants can be dangerous to your home structure. These ants excavate wooded areas of properties and make them hollow. This results in a weak foundation of the structure. Repairing these areas is also very expensive.
Carpenter ants mainly enter homes in search of food. They move throughout your kitchen, attic, and pantry areas, resulting in food contamination.
How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants are a nuisance when you don't restrict their population on time. It's essential to stop the carpenter ants from infesting your home early. It becomes quite challenging to eliminate them once they spread all over. The following techniques will help you get rid of carpenter ants:
Baits are created by mixing a toxic chemical with carpenter ants' favorite foods. You can put these baits in narrow pathways where you can't use an aerosol spray. This technique is easy to follow and relatively safer than any other method that involves toxicants.
You can create baits with chemicals specially designed for carpenter ant control. These include fipronil, abamectin, and hydramethylnon. Foraging carpenter ants can fall for these baits easily and pass the insecticide to the eggs and queen.
Keep in mind that not every carpenter ants colony can fall for baits. Some may accept a certain type of bait, so you need to determine what works for you.
Carpenter ants eat a variety of foods, including meat and vegetables. Try to make a combination of both to make the bait more effective.
The ready-made containerized baits available in the market usually work best for common ants. Try to buy carpenter ants-specific baits, which come in granule or gel form. If you can't find these baits anywhere, you can create one at home.
Removing the Nesting
Carpenter ants' nestings are hard to find in the beginning. Apply an aerosol, insecticide dust, or anti-carpenter-ant foam directly to the infestation when you spot them. You will have to drill small holes in these areas and fill them with the insecticide.
Pesticide dusts are more effective, as they can pass through the cavities. Ants are more likely to carry them to the queen.
You should also prevent or slow down wood decay in your home. Use wood preservatives on your windows, doors, pantry, attic, plumbing areas in the kitchen and bathroom, and other suspected areas.
Consult a Professional
Carpenter ants are difficult to prevent and manage. The best way to get rid of these ants is to hire a pest management professional. These pest control experts know how to find carpenter ants' nestings and control their population.
Pest management professionals also have insecticides that you may not find easily in the market. It's better to consult a professional on time to prevent carpenter ants from spreading all over your home.