Carpenter Ants: What Homeowners Need to Know about these Pests
Carpenter Ants: What Homeowners Need to Know about these Pests
Ants are social insects that are commonly found in homes and gardens. While these tiny crawling creatures may seem harmless, there is a particular species of ant that causes costly property damage, these are called Carpenter Ants. Carpenter ants can do significant cosmetic or even structural damage by excavating galleries in wood to build their nests. Although their mandibles can remove quantities of wood, they do not necessarily consume it, unlike termites.
In this post, you will learn various facts about carpenter ants — how to identify the ants, how to get rid of the carpenter ants, why they are considered house pests, what warning signs to look for, carpenter ant removal and how to effectively prevent potential infestation.
Get rid of the ants, Don’t wait!
If you see ants in your home, it’s a good indication that you have an established colony within your home. These ants can be very tricky to eliminate, Let’s get rid of the ants, contact GreenLeaf Pest Control today, protect yourself and your family!
How to Identify Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants are a species of large-sized ant that belongs to the genus Camponotus. All over the world hundreds of different varieties of carpenter ants seen, from Canada to Australia. This diversity means carpenter ants can come in various colours: black, red, yellow, brown, tan, or combinations of these colours, depending on their species. Carpenter ants have an evenly rounded head and arch-shaped thorax, connected by a single node, which gives it a slim “waist-like” appearance. These ants typically grow up to be half an inch long, although their sizes can vary according to the subspecies and some are believed to reach up to 1 inch (25mm) in size.
In North America, there are eight different types of carpenter ants, including:
Amponotus Pennsylvanicus – black carpenter ant
Chromaiodes – red carpenter ant
Carpenter ants live in family groups known as colonies. Carpenter ant colonies have different sizes of workers — minor, intermediate, and major (from smallest to largest, respectively). Minor workers are about 0.25-inch while the major worker can grow up to 0.5-inch long. Queens are slightly larger in size than major workers, with a smaller head and a larger abdomen. Despite being fairly small compared to other insects, what ants lack in size they make up for in number. A carpenter ant colony can host over 20,000 ants, with certain environments enabling them to reach extraordinarily high numbers such as 100,000.
Why are Carpenter Ants Considered a Pest?
As the name suggests, carpenter ants like wood. Once they have entered a home, they will tunnel into exposed wood, usually into wall cavities and ceilings, and then construct a nest inside the timber there. This can cause cosmetic damage, or even create structural hazards if left unaddressed for too long.
In fact, there are many stories of ants causing major structural damages to homes and businesses alike. Back in 2014, a colony of carpenter ants even managed to destroy a homeowner’s window in Windsor, Ontario.
Carpenter ant damage is distinctive from that of termite damage. While termites consistently follow the wood grain, ants create tunnels across the wood grain. Ant tunnels are usually clean and not covered in mud, unlike termite tunnels. Lastly, since they rarely eat the wood, you will notice piles of sawdust-like material, called frass, near an ant nest. You should be vigilant when inspecting your property to spot these signs, as you may not notice the ants themselves if they are hiding inside your home’s woodwork.
How Common are Carpenter Ants in Canada?
Carpenter ants are common across central and eastern Canada, spanning anywhere from the Rocky Mountains all the way to the Atlantic coast.
To make matters worse, carpenter ant populations are on the rise in Canada thanks to easier living conditions and a warming climate. Despite much of the country experiencing arctic temperatures during the winter that would easily kill off other pests, carpenter ants are hardy insects. Not only does the winter encourage ants to take shelter inside the woodwork of homes, but some varieties of these ants are also capable of producing their own form of antifreeze. Glycerol chemical used to prevent ice from developing inside the tissue of their bodies. Even without this ability, carpenter ants can be a hardy menace that will happily find shelter inside your home or business, especially in the larger leafy suburbs of cities such as Toronto, Guelph, Bradford, Pickering, King City, Innisfil, Barrie and in the GTA.
Facts about Carpenter Ant Colonies
There are two types of carpenter ant nests: the parent colony and the satellite colony. The parent colony is found outside, in moist, decayed wood such as rotten tree trunks and roots. Parent colonies require higher humidity to shelter the eggs.
The carpenter ants built in areas with less moisture and composed areas. Since satellite colonies do not contain eggs, they can be in dry locations, like inside hollow doors, or wall voids.
There are as many as 3000 workers in a single carpenter ant colony. Worker carpenter ants collect and store food (plant and animal materials), excavate tunnels and galleries to expand the nesting area, and tend the eggs, larvae, and pupae. Unlike other types of ants, the queen does not lay eggs. This is the duty of the female workers in the colony.
It takes about 3.5 to 4 years for a black carpenter ant colony to mature and produce swarmers. Swarming usually takes place from March to July. The male alate dies after fertilizing the female. The newly fertilized female finds moist, decaying wood, lays eggs in a small cavity, and starts a new colony.
Are Carpenter Ants Damaging Your Home?
Carpenter ants can get inside your home via cracks or holes in your external wall, or through wet or damaged wood. While they are known for tunnelling in wooden steps or windowsills, carpenter ants also nest in hollow spaces, such as wall cavities, hollow doors, and attic spaces, without causing structural damage.
Here are some signs to watch out for if you suspect an ant colony inside or outside your house:
A distinct (sometimes loud) dry rustling sound caused by their chewing activity
Wood shavings (similar to sawdust) beneath baseboards, window sills, and door jams
Winged ants emerging from the walls, ceilings, and, or shed ant wings near baseboards, vents, and window sills.
Winged ants emerge when the carpenter ant colony becomes mature. Seeing ants on the window of your home, then there is a mature colony, and this could produce more colonies.
How to Prevent a Carpenter Ant Infestation in Your Home
There are a few simple steps a homeowner can take to discourage carpenter ants from moving into your home. Externally, you can seal all visible wall cracks with caulk, and install door sweeps on entry doors and check windows. Trim trees and hedges away from the house, and adjust the grading around the house to prevent standing water against the walls of your home. If you have a fireplace, store firewood away from the home, & elevate the bottom level to allow it to air-dry.
Carpenter ant tunnels and galleries weaken the structure of wood, causing extensive damage. While some insects abandon their nest seasonally, and carpenter ants will remain for years as long as they retain favourable conditions. They will continue to expand their nest by adding more galleries and sub-galleries as the colony grows and matures. When carpenter ants establish a colony inside your home and to get rid of them, contact professional pest control.
Signs of Carpenter Ants:
If you noticed any of these signs, time to take ant prevention to stop the early stage of damage. While some may say that home maintenance is key to preventing potential pest infestation. It may be difficult to control the problem once the carpenter ants start to build and expand their nest. Professional ant removal services to get rid of the carpenter ants is the most effective way to stop the problem.
Damage to your home from carpenter ants can take well over a year to be noticeable, but once discovered. It is often too late for that part of your home to be fixed without extensive repair. As a homeowner, you can immediately prevent this from happening by contacting a pest control or carpenter ant removal services who will safely eliminate them for good.
Get Professional Carpenter Ant Extermination Services in Toronto & Southern Ontario
At GreenLeaf Pest Control Inc., we provide long-term solutions to a wide range of ant infestation problems in residential and commercial properties, including carpenter ant extermination. We use environmentally safe pest control services to ensure a healthy planet for the next generation. If you are looking for ant control services or other types of pest control services in Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area, call us at (416) 998-9473 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel Mackie, the Quality Assurance Director at Greenleaf Pest Control, is a King City and Caledon pest control expert. Daniel is well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, and is a regular guest on HGTV. Mackie, along with business partner Sandy Costa, were the first pest control professionals in Canada to use detection dogs and thermal remediation for the successful eradication of bed bugs. In his free time, he is an avid gardener and beekeeper.