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CARPENTER ANTS (Featured pages )

       Identification and life cycle                                       Common questions and answers
       Getting rid of Carpenter Ants                                   Digital microscope photos                               
       Ant Nest Photos                                                         Carpenter Ant control professionals


Identification and sizes

   FIVE ANT SIZES IN ONE TYPICAL NEST
               
(not actual size )

 Top Left:  Reproductive winged female.
               (future queen)

 Top Right: Reproductive winged male.

 Bottom: Minor workers (female) 
         Major worker (female)

 

carpenter ant castes       

 

View our  page of  carpenter ant digital microscope photos.

 

 A common destructive insect pest

Carpenter ants are one of the most valuable insects we have on earth. They chew up tons of wood and turn it into fine sawdust that rots and provides compost for new growth. Because they enter man made structures they are considered the most destructive  common insect pest we have in Canada.

IDENTIFICATION AND LIFE CYCLE

Two common species of carpenter ants found in Canada:  (There are others)

1. Modoc : all black. (Legs may have a rusty red color) One queen in parent nest.

2. Vicinus : black head, rusty red thorax (mid section) and black abdomen 
(tail section.)  Multiple queens in parent nest.
Most carpenter ant species have other similar characteristics. See digital photos.

Five Sizes : Carpenter ants can be as small as one quarter inch or as large as three quarters of an inch. All sizes can be found in one nest. (See illustration above)

Most Carpenter Ant species establish their initial nest in decayed wood, but, once established, the ants extend their tunneling into sound wood and can do considerable damage to a structure.
These species commonly nest in standing trees (living or dead), in stumps, or in logs on the forest floor. Since many houses are being built in forested areas, well established, vigorous colonies are readily available in the immediate vicinity to attack these dwellings. This is especially true when the homeowner insists that the home be built with a minimal removal of trees.

Carpenter Ants typically have a parent colony in outside nesting areas, such as live or dead trees, stumps, logs or decorative landscape wood. When the colony grows larger and needs room to expand satellite colonies are established. These satellite colonies often develop in nearby structures presumably because they offer warm protection.

Only the parent colony contains the queen(s), young larvae and workers, while the satellite contains the mature larvae, pupae, workers, and/or winged reproductives.  Ants move back and forth from parent nest to satellite nest but just a few ( less than 10 % ) will be visible foraging for food.

Sometimes they can be seen moving mature larvae (white and grub-like) or pupae (papery cocoons).

Ants are generally active along ant trails from April to mid-October. These trails follow natural contours and lines of least resistance and also frequently cut across lawns. Traffic on these trails may be noticeable during the day, but peak traffic occurs after sunset and continues throughout the night.

The parent colony is often located in a tree, stump,  stacked wood within 100 meters of the house or wood and stumps buried in the yard when the house was constructed. Decorative wood  landscape ties brought in to enhance the beauty of a yard or driveway may also be the source of a parent colony. The colony does not produce reproductives (winged males and queens) until it is from 3 to 6 years old and contains about 2,000 workers. The natural food for these ants consists of insects and other arthropods and sweet exudates from aphids and insects. They are also attracted to other sweet material such as decaying fruits.

Reproductive carpenter ants ( winged males and females ) leave the nest as early as January if the nest is in a heated structure. Those living outside in logs and stumps will not swarm until about early May. The fertilized queens must then find wet wood to establish a new nest, and the cycle starts over again.  See digital photos.

The new queen could live 15 years or more and lay 70,000 fertilized eggs.

                              Top of page                  back to insects

F.A.Q.

Common questions asked about carpenter ants, answered by an experienced carpenter ant specialist in the pest control business.

Q: How serious is the damage caused by carpenter ants?

A: We have seen new homes, homes under construction and older homes where carpenter ants have excavated galleries in main structural beams and wall studs. We have also seen many carpenter ants in homes with almost no resulting damage. Unfortunately the damage is often not visible unless wall or ceiling cavities are opened. Nests are often discovered during renovations.

Q: How do you get rid of them?

A: Killing the visible ants foraging around a home is merely removing the symptoms. 90% of the ants never leave the nests. The nests must be located and destroyed.

Q: How do you find the nests?

A: Through years of experience treating numerous homes pest control professionals have gained a sense of where the nests are likely to be. By doing a thorough inspection for evidence and tracking they are able to narrow down nest locations to  small areas. Customer observations are also important.

Q:
Are the pesticides used, toxic to people in the home?

A: Pesticides are like medicine. When used properly they are safe and effective. When they are not used properly they can cause health hazards. We do not place pesticides where humans or animals will come in contact with them. We always practice "integrated pest management" which means use all methods possible to control pests with minimum use of pesticides.

Q: How do the small tin ant traps work?

A: They don't. They are not traps. They contain a small amount of ant poison that is not effective for carpenter ants.

Q:
What about the little yellow or red bottles of ant poison? Do they eat it and take it back to kill the queen and others in the nest.?

A: Because only a few ants leave the nests, ant poison must have a good residual to have effect when it is transferred to other ants. It is effective for some ants but not for most carpenter ants. (There are rarely carpenter ant queens in a home.)

 

Carpenter Ant Control Professionals

Advantage Pest Control Inc.

York: 905-887-8559
Peel: 905-855-9631
    
Durham: 905-420-9019
   GTA: 416-297-8010

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       http://www.pestservices.ca

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