There are several varieties of carpenter ants worldwise. The Greater Toronto Area primarily has black carpenter ants. These ans are a dark brown to black colour on the entirety of their body. Carpenter ants are large ants ranging in size between 6-25 mm.
Carpenter ant bodies have three segments with a very tiny waist which seperates the upper and lower body segments. The antennae are sectional and bed. The reproductive stage of the ants (both male and female) are winged. These are often referred to as flying ants.
Carpenter Ant Colonies
Carpenter ants make their homes burrowed into wood. These nests consist of large galleries. They do not eat the wood but instead may throw it out of the nest, leaving sawdust on nearby floors.
Outdoors, carpenter ants are mainly found in dead wood of standing trees or in stumps, or logs. Generally they prefer softer wood such as pine. Carpenter ant colonies are large containing hundres of workers (they are all non-reproductive females), reproductive males and females (there can be more than one queen). When a colony becomes too large one of these reproductive females will leave with some workers and take up residence in a nearby structure. This is often a residential home or office location. These smaller colonies are know as satelitte colonies.
Indoor colonies are often found in moisture damaged or decaying wooden structures. Carpenter ant colonies can be found in the trim of buildings, decks, sheds, wooden steps, window and door frames, window sills, and in hollow voided areas such as attics or hollow doors. Occasionally they can be found in other areas such as behind bookshelves, drawers in wooden furniture and styrofoam insulation.
Structurally, carpenter ants can cause damage to wooden structures. They can also be unsightly in homes as their foragers search for food. Carpenter ants eat both carbohydrate and protein rich food. In nature they normally feed on other insects and small invertebrates but will eat protein and sweet foods found in residences and workplaces.
Identifying A Carpenter Ant Problem
Entry Points For Carpenter Ants
- windows, window sills and window frames
- doors and door frames (open sliding doors are a common problem in the summertime)
- holes in the foundation and exterior structure of buildings
- heating ducts and air-conditioner areas
- contact points between tree branches and the building or structure
- attached wood structures to the building such as decks, porches and sheds.
- firewood and wooden products brought inside of the building.
Signs of Carpenter Ants
- Inspect all moisture areas, areas where wood contacts the soils, poorly ventilated areas and areas where the structural lumber is exposed.
- Look for high concentrations of ants in areas like under sinks in bathrooms and kitchens, and in laundry rooms in the basement.
- Look for ant trails and watch to see where those trails are going. They may be foraging for food or trying to communicate with the outdoor colony (parent colony).
- Ants are most active after the sun sets, so watch for increased activity at that time.
- Look for winged ants (also known as flying ants) either outside trying to get it or inside trying to get outside. This occurs prodominately in the spring.
- Take note of sawdust piles near furniture or walls which may indicate nearby colonies, or slits in any wood work.
- Carpenter ants can also make quite a bit of noise especially with very large colonies. It is often a dry rustling sound that is usually heard in the evening during their high activity time which usually coincides with quiet time inside a residence. Sometimes a wine glass can aid in listening behind the walls.
Carpenter Ant Prevention
- Clear all wood, especially decaying wood such as fire wood piles, from around buildings and structures.
- Remove all stumps or wood debris near buildings or structures.
- Decorative bark and driftwood can be prime carpenter ant nesting areas.
- Adjust the humidity of the home.
- Replace all decaying and water damaged wood in the home
- Minimize food sources by keeping all food in sealed containers
- Sweep regularily and remove open food sources in kitchens, dining rooms and other eating areas.
- Declutter the home.