Do I Still Have To Worry About Carpenter Ants

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carpenter ant crawling on piece of wood

Yes, it is fall; and yes, it is New York. But the calls are pouring in about carpenter ant sightings. While many people may think that troubles with ants end when the cooler temperatures begin, that simply isn’t the case. While it is true that some ant species will hibernate during late fall and throughout the winter, some can remain active year round – even in our cooler climates. Let’s take a look at carpenter ants and why they can remain active even when the snow is flying.

Knowing a carpenter ant when you see one is very important. Carpenter ants are wingless (the reproductive caste of carpenter ants do have wings, but only until they mate and begin their own colony), dark brown to black ants. They are very large measuring anywhere from ¼ to ½ inch in length. In fact, they are most likely the largest ants you will see here in New York. They have antennae that are ‘elbowed’ and a constriction between their thorax and abdomen.

Generally, you will only see these ants inside your home at night as they forage for food. They love moist, dark areas and can typically be found emerging from the shadows to find meats, fats, or sugary foods particularly between 10 pm and 2 am.

Carpenter ants prefer to live outside in dead and rotting wood such as tree stumps, fallen logs, and other moist, wooded areas. However, once a colony reaches its peak, it will produce reproductive ants that will go out and begin a satellite colony. Many times a satellite colony will begin in the recesses of a home, in pillars and support beams of porches, in garages and other outbuildings, or anywhere else that most, water-damaged wood can be found. Satellite colonies will also be formed when the main colony is disturbed or threatened. Keep in mind that satellite colonies are typically found within 100 yards of the parent colony.

Now that we understand a bit about carpenter ants, back to the question at hand. Can carpenter ants stay active all year long in cooler climates? The answer is a simple yes and no. Here’s why. Carpenter ants that are living outside will enter a state of diapause which is a time of very slow metabolic action. As their bodies slow way down, they do not require as much food and can enter this sort of ‘mini-hibernation’ state to wait out the cooler temperatures. Once spring arrives, they quickly exit diapause and pick up right where they left off. However, for carpenter ant colonies that have already been established inside the recesses of your home before the temperatures drop, there is no need for diapause. The temperature controlled environment in your home offers carpenter ants the perfect conditions to remain active throughout the entire year.

It is very important for you to know if you have carpenter ants living in your home. These pests can cause costly damages as they tunnel through wood in order to make nesting sites for their colony. They are also an indication that you have a moisture issue as they will only invade moist, rotting wood. You will want to identify those areas quickly to avoid a possible mold situation. Either way, knowing the common areas that carpenter ants infest in a home is important. Some of those common areas include:

  • Porch pillars and supports

  • Sills and wall studs

  • Window and door casings

  • Under insulation in ceilings

  • Any areas that have been damaged by water

There are some things you can do to help prevent a carpenter ant colony from choosing your home as theirs. These practical measures include:

  • Remove stumps, logs, and other moist wood that are within 100 yards of your home.

  • Keep plants and shrubs trimmed away from your home.

  • Keep firewood stored off the ground and away from your home.

  • Repair roofs, flashing, gutters, and downspouts to keep wood dry.

  • Replace water damaged wood immediately.

  • Keep exterior wood painted or sealed.

  • Seal utility entrances.

  • Use pressure treated wood for any areas of your home that will come into contact with the ground.

  • Keep crawl spaces well ventilated.

  • Get year-round pest prevention services

Keep in mind that in order to eliminate an infestation of carpenter ants, you must eliminate all satellite colonies and the parent colony which is most likely located outside somewhere within a 100-yard radius. Finding all of those nesting sites takes experience and training which is why a professional service is required to be successful at complete eradication. This is where the experts here at Thomas Pest Services come in. Our technicians are highly trained, experienced, and trustworthy. They have the tools and know the protocols to safely find and eliminate all of your carpenter ant colonies. Plus, they can help you to find all of the areas that are inviting carpenter ants into your home in the first place.

Don’t let carpenter ants eat away at the structure of your home all winter long when help is only a call away.


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