Question: We had an ant problem at our home.
They look like carpenter ants, according to the pictures on your website. Since it is still wintertime, the ants are not that many (we found one or two every two or three weeks). But during the warm season, there are so many they give us headache (even after we put in different ant baits). We are just wondering when it is a good time to start the ant-control treatment. Right now, when they are still not that many or wait for the warm season when they become active?
ANSWER: Probably what you have is one of the carpenter ant species (genus Camponotus). There are several species of carpenter ants across the U.S. Most are large black ants, but some are red and some are red and black. Most of the species produce swarms (winged males and female ants) in the spring. Carpenter ants feed on other insects and honeydew from aphids on plants and trees.
Carpenter ants nest in wood, but do not eat the wood. If there is a moisture problem in the house, the ants will seek out wood that has been damaged. They prefer this damp wood over dry, solid wood. Carpenter ants find damaged wood, whether it is in the bathroom where the tub or shower is not draining properly (or has overflowed and wet the wood) or a porch that is holding moisture. They find wood that has been damaged by moisture from a roof leak, a door frame that gets wet from rain, or a downspout or gutter that is not working.
Carpenter ants come into the house for food or water. Many times workers come into the house, get food and go back outside. Sometimes the ants move the entire colony into the house. And once in a while, the ants make a satellite colony inside the house and leave the main colony outside.
Carpenter ants are active at night and on cloudy days. They move around in trails. It is often possible to follow the line of worker ants to find the nests.
Carpenter ants can be more than a nuisance. They, in case of a large infestation, can cause structural damage. In some states they are considered to be a wood destroying insect (WDI). So why take chances with your biggest investment? A call to your local Orkin Branch Office to set up for an inspection performed by a qualified Orkin Inspector is your best course of action. Your Inspector will look at areas where the ants may be nesting, will locate and document conditions that attract the ants and will generate a customized treatment solution for you to take care of the problem before it gets out of hand.
Related Questions: The Orkin Man used the information above to also answer the following questions submitted by Orkin.com users:
Question: I didn’t have any ants in my house this summer. Now in the dead of winter I have ants all over the lower level of my house. What do I do to get rid of them?
Question: Help, we have a live carpenter ant colony under our house.
Question: I live in a heavily wooded area, and I am not sure where to begin with pest management. During my home inspection, I was advised I would have to take measures for prevention of carpenter ants and termites. Where do I start?
Carpenter Ant Picture