Carpenter Ants: Getting Rid of Them and Keeping Them Out of Your House
Bugs! It’s one thing to experience them in nature. It’s another thing to experience them in your home. Even worse than the simple knowledge that your home has been invaded is the knowledge of the damage these little pests can due to your home. Most often, when people think of pests causing destruction to a home they think of termites, yet there are other types of pest that can cause damage to your home. In fact, some people unknowingly misidentify another destructive pest as termites: carpenter ants.
What are Carpenter Ants?
Carpenter ants are a common insect infestation found within homes, especially homes that have high moisture content. Carpenter ants make their nest inside decayed, damp wood. They are attracted to sugary foods. They usually forage at night and carry food back to the nest. Carpenter ants usually have a parent colony and several satellite colonies nearby. Reproductive carpenter ants usually leave the nest in spring to mate and establish more satellite nests. Therefore, swarms are seen more often in spring. A swarm can be an indication of a new nest being built. Satellite nests are often built close to a viable food source.
The Difference Between Carpenter Ants and Termites
Carpenter ants are often mistaken for termites because both insects burrow in wood, but if you look close enough, several distinctions can be seen between the two. First of all, carpenter ants have elbowed antennae whereas termites have straight antennae. Also, carpenter ants have a dark-colored body while termites have light-colored bodies. Finally, if you have to see wings, carpenter ants will have back wings that are smaller than their front wings, and termites have wings that are of equal size.
What Can Carpenter Ants do to Your Home?
The biggest difference between carpenter ants and termites is found within the food source of both insects. Whereas termites eat wood, carpenter ants only nest within wood. Carpenter ants dig out tunnels or galleries within damp, moist, decaying wood. Creating these tunnels creates a clean surface that appears as if it has been sand-papered. Often, a fine sawdust can be detected around the galleries. Since carpenter ants need sugar and protein, a trail coming to and from a food source can be a good indicator for the location of a nest. Since carpenter ants do not eat wood, the amount of structural damage that they create may not be as severe as termites, if the infestation has been discovered quickly.