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Carpenter ants are generally very easy to identify by their size, their dark black to reddish black colour and their large mandibles. They measure between 6 and 25 mm, depending on their age and status in the colony. The body of a carpenter ant is divided into 3 parts, one of which leads to a very thin waist. Male and female adults are winged at mating time.
Carpenter ants are well known for causing damage to wooden structures. Their presence in homes is also a nuisance when they search for food there. Carpenter ants feed on both plant and animal matter. Insects and other small invertebrates, as well as honeydew produced by aphids and other insects, are their primary source of food. The presence of protein and sugary foods in and around houses also attract foraging workers.
Carpenter ants don’t actually eat the wood; they spew it outside their galleries in the shape of fine shavings that look like sawdust. Carpenter ants form large colonies consisting of hundreds of workers (sterile females), numerous reproductive males and females, and one or more queens. It happens that individuals from one established colony migrate to a neighboring structure, in turn founding a smaller satellite colony there. According to some specialists, this phenomenon would explain why carpenter ants invade homes.
Outdoors, carpenter ants can nest in dead tree trunks that are still standing, in stumps or logs, or even under trunks or rocks scattered on the ground. They sometimes dig nests into healthy wood, however generally they choose softwood species such as pine. Indoors, since they have a preference for moist and rotting wood, the presence of carpenter ants can reveal a problem of humidity or decomposition of wooden structures. In addition to burrowing into wooden moldings, stairs and window frames, a colony of ants can build their nest in a house without attacking the structural wood, and infest the empty spaces between the walls, attics or hollow doors. Some nests have even been found behind books stored in bookcases, behind dresser or cupboard drawers, and behind polystyrene foam insulation boards.
Carpenter ants sneak into homes in various ways:
1 - Inspect all humid and poorly ventilated areas, as well as areas where structural wood is exposed and those built with wood in contact with the ground. Assess if it is indeed a carpenter ant infestation, or just a few individuals wandering around the house. Check specific areas for large numbers of ants, for instance under the kitchen sink.
2 - Observe the ants in search of food, as well as their movements. It is possible that the track leads to a mother colony, outside of the house. (Note that ants are particularly active after the sun sets.)
3 - Be vigilant for swarms of winged ants trying to escape from outside, most often in the spring time.
4 - Be on the lookout for accumulations of sawdust-like wood shavings outside ant nests as well as cracks in the woodwork.
5 - Try to recognize the sound of an active ant colony, which is like a dry rustle. This sound is easier to hear at night, when the ants are more active, and the house quieter. Use a wine glass or stethoscope to inspect the walls.
If you decide on using an over-the-counter (class 5) pesticide to solve your infestation problem, first read the warning label in order to choose the right product for your targeted pest. The chemical products allow to eliminate existing carpenter ant nests, and prevent new ones from forming. The products normally sold in-store are generally far less effective that those used in a professional extermination. Once a carpenter ant colony is well established, it must be located and then treated to eliminate it long term in a permanent way. Generally, a thermal camera is required to properly locate the primary nest and then destroy the colony.
Exterminations Target Montreal carries the necessary equipment to successfully identify the primary nest in your walls without causing significant damage to your home. If you are dealing with a satellite colony, the most efficient method consists of finding and destroying the mother colony. It is possible to acquire various pesticides whose action will contribute to reduce the number of ants which infests the homes. But don’t be fooled, over-the-counter products have their limits, do not overestimate them. Pest control specialists have access to several other products for commercial use.
For treatment of an establishment used for food processing or preparation, only use products intended for this category of establishments (biopesticides). Carefully follow the instructions and warnings on the label. Remove or cover all food, packaging and utensils before beginning the treatment. Following the application, wash all of the surfaces that may come into contact with food, and thoroughly rinse with water before using again.
Note: When applying a pesticide, it is recommended to leave the dead ants in their place. Other ants will come to eat them or bring them back to the nest in order to feed the rest of the colony. The pesticide will therefore spread further.
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