When temperatures start to warm up, carpenter ants may come out and forage for a new location to find shelter and food.
Carpenter ants have become a widespread issue throughout the Eastern United States. They are known to cause the most damage of all the different species of ants. If a colony of carpenter ants has been actively infesting a property for a significant period of time, the structural damage can be quite extensive. That’s why it’s essential to have an infestation treated quickly by a licensed pest control professional.
But how do you know if you have an infestation of carpenter ants? And what happens if your home does become infested with them?
What Are Carpenter Ants?
Carpenter ants are indigenous to many forested parts of the world. They build nests inside dead, damp wood, which consists of galleries they have chewed out with their mandibles. However, unlike termites, they do not eat wood; instead, they discard a material that looks very similar to sawdust.
They often infest wooden structures and buildings and are a widespread problem as they can cause significant structural damage. Although the damage they cause is not as severe as the damage caused by termites, carpenter ant nests can cause a considerable amount of damage if left for years.
The body of a carpenter ant is covered with a tough, shell-like exoskeleton. The antennae are used for smell, touch, communication, and taste. They have strong jaws with pinchers, which is what enables them to chew on wood. The larger worker ants can deliver a nasty bite, but unlike other types of ants, they do not carry a poison sack or stinger. They are also not carriers of any diseases.
How to Identify Carpenter Ants
There are eight different species of carpenter ants in New Jersey; however, the most significant and common of these is the black carpenter ant. They are large with a uniform, dull-black color. Here are some characteristics to look for in identifying carpenter ants:
- Worker ants are black or red and black.
- Worker ants typically range in size from 3/8 to 1/2 inch long.
- They have a waist with one node and a thorax that, when viewed from the side, is evenly rounded.
- All 6 legs are attached to the trunk.
- Queens and males are larger than the worker ants and have wings. Once they start a new nest, the queens lose their wings.
- Queen ants may be as large as 1 inch long.
Where and When are Carpenter Ants Active?
Carpenter ants become active in May and slow down in October. However, July is the month of peak activity. If you see carpenter ants during the winter months or early spring, this could indicate an interior nest exists. If you see them during peak season, it’s likely that it is a scout from an outside nest. If your home is located on a heavily wooded lot, you are more of a prime target. It’s worth noting that carpenter ants can forage up to 100 yards to search for food.
What Does an Infestation Look Like?
If you have a carpenter ant infestation, there are specific signs you will notice. Some of these signs include:
- Carpenter ants crawling around your home
- Carpenter ants crawling out of crevices or holes in your home
- Piles of wood shavings inside your home
If you notice these signs, do not ignore them! A carpenter ant infestation will only get worse over time. To prevent further damage, early detection is vital.
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