Carpenter Ants: Prevention And Control

Carpenter ants can cause a great deal of damage if they are not controlled. There are effective ways of preventing and controlling carpenter ants.

When carpenter ants invade a home or structure, they can cause a considerable amount of damage. It is important to properly identify the type of insects or ants invading a structure so measures can be taken to effectively control them. The website article entitled "Carpenter Ants", written by William F. Lyon and published by The Ohio State University, describes the carpenter ant, their eggs, and their larvae. It says carpenter ants can be various sizes. Major workers are about one-half inch long, minor workers are about one-fourth of an inch long, queens having wings are about three-fourths of an inch long, and queen carpenter ants are about five-eighths of an inch long. Worker ants are brownish in color, and they can be identified by a large head and a small thorax. Queen carpenter ants are usually all black, but there are some varieties of carpenter ants that have shades of brown, red, or yellow occurring on the legs and body. Larvae appear similar to a grub and form silken cocoons that are light brown in color. Carpenter ant eggs are approximately one-eighth of an inch long, oblong in shape, and off-white in color.

There are areas within a home or structure where carpenter ants and nests are most likely to be found. The website article entitled "Carpenter Ants", written by Mike Potter, Extension Entomologist, and published by The University of Kentucky, provides the following information on typical nesting locations of carpenter ants. It says carpenter ants prefer to make their nests in damp wood. Areas they are often found in are cracks surrounding doors, window frames, and chimneys. Carpenter ants also prefer wood in areas where roofs have leaked, around basins, and around tubs. Nests may also be in damp spaces between walls, hollow timbers, railroad ties, and tree stumps. Although they can occupy cracks and crevices that are dry, any areas having moist wood can be a likely spot for a colony of carpenter ants to make their nests.

Carpenter ants do not eat the wood they damage. They create tunnels and hollow areas for their nests. "Carpenter Ants", published by The University of Kentucky, describes in the following, the two types of nests they construct. It says that a parent colony houses the egg-laying queen, at least 2,000 workers, and baby carpenter ants. a satellite colony contains only worker ants. These nests can cause damage to a structure if the problem is not taken care of right away.

The June 2000 newsletter entitled "Plants and Pests", published by Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, in the article entitled "Carpenter Ants Make a Life Out of Bugging Homeowners", written by Gary Bennett, Purdue Entomologist, and Daniel Suiter, Georgia Extension, provides the following recommendations for preventing carpenter ants. It says cracks and other openings should be sealed, food should be stored properly, and tree limbs that come in contact with the roof of a structure should be trimmed. In addition, trash cans should be kept covered, and any crumbs or spills should be promptly cleaned up. Exposed wood or areas having moisture should be kept dry.

"Carpenter Ants", published by The University of Kentucky, provides the following recommendations for killing carpenter ants once their nests have been located. It says if the nest is within a wall, a small hole can be drilled and boric acid can be blown in. The holes can be sealed with cork, dowel rod plugs, or a patching compound when the nests and ants have been eradicated. In addition, residual insecticides should be sprayed in and around the area of infestation. The outside of a home or structure should be treated as well. It is important to spray all cracks where carpenter ants can enter, and the foundation of the building should be sprayed a minimum of two feet from the ground up. In addition, the ground adjacent to the building should be treated at least three feet beyond the foundation.

Although carpenter ants can cause damage and are undesirable, "Carpenter Ants Make a Life Out of Bugging Homeowners" says these pests can be beneficial. It says they often kill other insects for food. However, the damage they cause is greater than any benefit they may bring.

Be sure that caution is taken with any type of insecticide. These products should not be used if there is a chance that children or pets may come in contact with them. All product labelling should be carefully read and followed. If store bought products are not successful in getting rid of carpenter ants, "Carpenter Ants Make a Life Out of Bugging Homeowners" recommends seeking help from a professional exterminator.

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