CARPENTER ANTS: GOT ANTS IN YOUR PLANTS?

ants in your plantsIN NATURE, FEW THINGS EXEMPLIFY “BETTER TOGETHER” THAN A FULLY FUNCTIONING CARPENTER ANT COLONY. INDIVIDUALLY, ANTS MAY NOT ACCOUNT FOR MUCH, BUT WHEN A WHOLE COLONY GETS TOGETHER, THERE ISN’T MUCH THAT UP TO 700,000 ANTS CAN’T DO. UNFORTUNATELY, THIS CAN INCLUDE DAMAGE TO YOUR PROPERTY AND YOUR HOME. ONE OF THE BIGGEST CULPRITS TO PROPERTY DAMAGE IS THE INFAMOUS CARPENTER ANT.  TODAY’S BLOG POST IS FOCUSED ON EDUCATION ABOUT ANT LIFE AND WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE AN INFESTATION.

WHAT’S A CARPENTER ANT?

Named for their preference to wood as a habitat, carpenter ants can cause a lot of damage to your home if left unchecked. Identifying carpenter ants can be tricky because they’re “polymorphic.” This means they can take on several different shapes, sizes, and colors. Carpenter ants can be black, brown, red or even yellow and can range from 3mm to 13mm. An almost surefire way to tell if there are carpenter ants on your property is to look near rotting wood or tree stumps.

WHERE DO CARPENTER ANTS LIVE?

That’s a great question to ask yourself. Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t actually eat wood. Instead, they chew through wood and burrow, creating nests for themselves. Once a Queen Ant gets on your property, you can expect her to begin laying eggs. At this point, you have a colony infestation and the ants can pose a serious and costly risk to your home.

HOW LONG DO CARPENTER ANTS LIVE?

After a queen lays her eggs, ants go through a process called metamorphosis that takes them from an egg to larvae, to pupa (baby ants) and finally to an adult. This whole process usually only takes a few weeks. In some ant colonies, there can be a couple of queen ants whose only responsibility is to lay eggs.

After birth, an ant can usually live for several months, do nothing but hunting, be scavenging and working towards building up their colony. Under the right conditions, a Queen Ant can live several decades. You can see how if you have an infestation, this process can get out of hand quickly.

HOW ARE CARPENTER ANTS GETTING IN MY HOUSE?

Regardless of whether or not you have carpenter ants, you may have noticed them inside your house. They seem to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. You might have asked yourself how they’re getting inside? Most ants find their way into a house through cracks in the floors, walls or ceilings. Windows can be a common culprit as well, as often there is enough room for an ant to squeeze in and out.

Window frames can also collect moisture which in turn affects the wood in the structure, attracting carpenter ants. Of course, even if you’ve gone through and sealed every crack you find, remember that you may already have a colony in the house that’s breeding ants.

WHAT DO CARPENTER ANTS EAT?

Different species of ants have developed differently. Often times, ants are omnivores and are able to eat both meat and vegetation. Sometimes ants – such as carpenter ants – are carrion, eating dead or decaying meat. Sources of food that are high in sugar are especially attractive to carpenter ants. Remember that carpenter ants don’t actually eat the wood that they chew through.

HOW CAN I TELL IF I HAVE A CARPENTER ANT INFESTATION?

Just because you see an ant or two in a building doesn’t mean that you have an infestation. Remember that ants can forage a long distance away from a nest. Instead, look near wooden structures for wooden shavings; this can be a sign of ants burrowing in.

One ant is inaudible, but hundreds or thousands of ants can make enough noise to hear through walls or ceilings. This sounds like a faint rustling or maybe creaking.

Check out this video to get an idea of what to listen for. 

Finally, if you see a larger than normal winged ant coming out of the ceiling or walls, you can bet the farm on an ant infestation.

OKAY, I HAVE A CARPENTER ANT INFESTATION. NOW, HOW DO I GET RID OF THE ANTS?

Killing off ants individually will never put a dent in your problem. You must attack the nest. To locate the nest, you’ll want to try to locate any wood shavings where the ants might have burrowed. This works to a degree, as its possible for ants to have a proxy colony. Remember that ants are attracted to sugary substances. You can lay the bait and trace the ants back to their colonies.

Getting a hold of pesticides that you can strategically position near the colonies can have huge impacts on killing the ants and their queen. The problem with these methods is that they can sometimes take time. In the case of a carpenter ant infestation, time equals property damage done. If you’ve already noticed wood or property damage, consider contacting a local pest control professional to quickly come to your property and evaluate the damage.

Summit Environmental Solutions has a proven history of quickly and safely handling pest control issues. If you spot ants in your home or business,
give us a call at (703) 495-2366 for a quick and free consultation.

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