"I keep seeing big, black ants in my house, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. I spray the ones I see, but they keep coming back. What kind of ants are these, where do they come from, and how do I get rid of them?" These are the questions typically asked by homeowners who have carpenter ants. They are also one of the most difficult to control.
Biology and Habits
Carpenter ants, vary in size and color but are usually large (1/4-1/2 inch) and blackish. Occasionally, swarms of winged carpenter ant reproductives will emerge inside a home. Carpenter ant swarms usually occur in the spring and are a sure sign that a colony is nesting somewhere inside the structure.
Winged carpenter ants can be distinguished from termites by their larger size and shape of their antennae, waist and wings.
Besides being objectionable by their presence, carpenter ants damage wood by hollowing it out for nesting. They excavate galleries in wood which have a smooth, sandpapered appearance. Wood which has been damaged by carpenter ants contains no mud-like material, as is the case with termites. Shredded fragments of wood, similar in appearance to coarse sawdust, are ejected from the galleries through preexisting cracks or slits made by the ants. When such accumulations are found (typically containing dead ants and bits of insects which the carpenter ants have eaten), it's a good indication that a carpenter ant nest is nearby. Oftentimes, however, the excavated sawdust remains hidden behind a wall or in some other concealed area.
The extent and potential damage to a home depends on how many nests are actually present within the structure, and how long the infestation has been active. Although large carpenter ant colonies are capable of causing structural damage, the damage is not normally as serious as that from termites. In some cases, the damage may be relatively insignificant, but this can only be determined by locating and exposing the nest area.
Tips When Calling a Professional
Oftentimes, it will be difficult or impossible to locate and destroy the carpenter ant nest(s). In this case, the homeowner may wish to call a professional pest control operator. Pest control companies approach carpenter ant problems differently. Some attempt to locate the nest and selectively treat only in specific areas. Other companies take more of a "shot-gun" approach, drilling and dusting as many potential wall voids and nesting sites as possible. Most companies also apply a perimeter spray treatment around the outside foundation of the home in an effort to temporarily prevent reinvasion. The approach which should not be used is simply to spray each month where carpenter ants are seen. If no effort is made to locate the nest(s) or probable nest areas, the problem will most likely continue.
Typically, there will be wide differences in price depending on the company and amount of effort expended. Since carpenter ant problems are not always solved on the first attempt, the type of guarantee and reputation of the company should be factored into the purchasing decision. Let Richardson Pest Solutions of St Louis, the St. Louis Pest Control Experts help today!