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Carpenter Ant Information

The Carpenter ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) is a social insect. They live in colonies. Carpenter ants, unlike termites, do not eat wood; carpenter ants tunnel and make nests in soft wood. They prefer to nest in wet wood but any wooden areas (porch, tree, veranda, step, door, etc.) which become moist are vulnerable to carpenter ant attack. They are black in colour and large in size, 8 to 11-mm in length. They are most active at night when they feed on insects, fruit, garbage and honeydew from aphids.

Carpenter ants make two types of nests. If the queen finds moist, decaying wood, she tunnels into it to begin the main nest. This site must be permanently moist or the eggs and younger larvae cannot survive. Old nests can contain thousands of ants, but it takes several years for a new nest to build up to a few hundred individuals. Main nests are usually outdoors in rotting stumps, trees or in decaying landscape timbers. They can become established in houses where wood in the structure has begun to decay. Although carpenter ants do not eat wood, they do tunnel into it to make their galleries. Carpenter ants must leave their wooden tunnels to search for food. Popular food sources consist of aphid honeydew, other insects (living or dead), plant juices, and food (fats, sugar and other sweets) found in the home.

Once they establish a nest in damp wood they will eventually damage the structure by tunnelling from the decaying wood into the sound wood. Carpenter ants also make satellite nests where they care for the older larvae and pupae that tolerate drier conditions. These nests are often in wall voids and eaves, ceilings or under insulation in attics or crawl spaces. Most nests in houses are satellite nests that maintain communication with the main nest.

Carpenter Ants come in five different sizes ranging from one quarter inch or as large as three quarters of an inch. All of these sizes are represented in any given nest. However, only 10% of the nest is ever visable. Most of the action happens inside the nest, behind the walls. Carpenter ants are commonly wingless, non-reproducing adults of the worker caste. All ants live in large groups or colonies consisting of hundreds of workers, a few reproductive males and females as well as at least one queen. Mating takes place in flight by winged ants during late spring and early summer. Shortly after, the male dies and the single fertilized queen ant finds a suitable nesting place to lay eggs and begin a new colony.

The small, white, oval eggs hatch into larvae. The queen continues nourishment until the larvae pupate and adult ants emerge. If warm temperatures exist, the egg to adult cycle can be completed in three months. At first, the colony is small, however, in later years the population can increase to 2000-3000 ants.

Carpenter Ants are a major concern for homeowners, as they are a destructive pest attack the structure of your home.

Carpenter ants are one of the most common structural pests found in and around the home. They are attracted to wood which has been exposed to moisture. Carpenter ants tunnel and make nests in soft wood, however, they do not eat the wood. The largest of the ant family, the carpenter ant ranges from 1/4 to 3/4 inches (3/5-2 cm), has a constricted waist, bent antennae and is black, reddish-black or brownish black in colour.
Understanding the habits and life cycle of the carpenter ant can be useful in its control. They are most active and cause most damage during warm summer months. Carpenter ant control may be achieved by the following: reduce or prevent excess moisture in wood; remove possible food sources; avoid storing wood inside or close to the house for long periods of time; remove any decaying wood found around the home and practice good sanitation measures. Remove attractive food sources; store food and garbage in sealed containers to decrease attractions for carpenter ants; caulk openings or install barriers on areas which could act as entrances for ants; and provide good ventilation inside the home.
The best protection is to maintain dry conditions with proper construction and maintenance, remember that anywhere wood is in contact with soil there is a risk of carpenter ant infestation.
  • Repair wood damaged by moisture, ventilate damp areas, clean gutters to avoid clogging, which leads to water damage to siding or roof.
  • Store firewood on raised platforms, well away from the house.
  • Prune trees so branches don't touch the house.
  • Remove all nearby rotted stumps or logs. Check for rotting landscaping wood.
  • Ensure that wood of the siding or structure isn't in contact with soil at any point around the house foundation.

Advantage Pest Control is the leading carpenter ant, bedbugs, and mice specialist serving Toronto, Mississauga, Peel and Durham; including the surrounding areas of Scarborough, Richmond Hill, Markham, Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and Rexdale. We also offer a full range of pest control products including aerosols, baits, sprays and dusts for treatment of your pest problem. Additionally we carry non-insecticidal products such as bedbug proof mattress encasements and mechanical and pheromone traps.

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