Carpenter Ants: Things you must know about them!
Have you ever wondered how these tiny notorious sweet-toothed ants got their name as “Carpenter Ants”? Carpenter Ants are called so because of the way they use wood to prepare their nests. You can easily find these colonial creatures creeping on your house furniture or the damp corners of your house.
You might think it is easy to throw them out of your house but you are wrong. These smart creatures prepare their map based on pheromone trails that they use to find their treasure of food in your house.
Let us now take note of a few important things you did not know about the Carpenter Ants earlier!
What Do Carpenter Ants Look Like?
Carpenter Ants are large-sized ants (0.3 to 1 inches in size) and generally are the habitat of forests. They are generally black, brown, or red. They live in nests built in dead, damp, or hollow wood but do not eat woods like Termites. Rather they cast away powdered material resembling sawdust.
They generally inhabit wooden structures and cause severe damage. They love moist and moldy places and may find their way into the damp places in your house like near water sources, bathtubs, dishwashers, air conditioners, etc.
Do Carpenter Ants Have Wings?
It will not be a rare site to find some carpenter ants flying around your house. Carpenter ants form colonies where every category has a different role to play. The categorization is made to make sure that they can sustain a healthy life for longer periods. They have worker ants, swarmer ants, and the queen.
The worker ants and queen do not have wings but both the male and the female swarmer have wings. The swarmer ants have two sets of wings and are slightly bigger as compared to other ants in their colony.
Read in detail about: Flying Ants
What Are The Signs Of Carpenter Ants In The House?
There are few indications that these wood-destroying pests may be ruling your house-
- The wood of your furniture sounds hollow.
- You can hear a soft crinkling sound within the walls of your house, more clearly during the night.
- Tunnels or passages are made through the wood around your house furniture.
- Fine wood shavings also termed Frass scattered on your floor or next to the walls with fine holes in them.
In addition to these, you may also keep a vigil on the trees or woodpiles neighbouring your house to take timely action before they start damaging your pieces of furniture.
Do Carpenter Ants Bite?
Yes, Carpenter ants do bite, and it’s quite painful. It feels like a sharp pinch somewhat similar to a bee sting. Carpenter ants have strong mandibles, which they pierce into your skin when they bite. The affected area develops red blemishes and it may even swell up in case of sensitive skin. The after effect of their bite is a burning sensation that may even last up to two weeks if the skin is sensitive.
They may inject formic acid, the same acid found in a bee sting, into your wound making the pain more severe. However, the good news is that they bite only in self-defense. When they feel that their nest may be at risk, they tend to bite.
What Do Carpenter Ants Eat?
It is a common misconception that carpenter ants feed on woods they build their nest. However, it is not true. They mostly feed upon the honeydews that are secreted by Aphids or on the extra nuptial nectaries. They feed upon sources of protein and sugar. They derive their share of nutrition from eating living and dead tiny creatures when outdoors. Indoors, they love to eat sugary items like jam, Jelly, sugar syrup, pet foods, etc.
Carpenter Ants are omnivorous so they eat both plant and animal foods. They relish nectar and fruit juice as much as they are fond of termites, meat, eggs, and animal fat.
Carpenter Ants vs Black Ants
Though carpenter ants are commonly black they are structurally different from the black ants.
- Carpenter ants are bigger than black ants.
- Carpenter ants have one node between their thorax and abdomen whereas the regular black ants have two nodes.
- Carpenter ants develop two sets of wings during their reproductive season that assists them in flying to their mate whereas black ants do not develop any wings even in their reproductive season.
- One striking difference between the two is that carpenter ants make your home their habitat and are tough ones to throw away but the regular black ants only visit your home in search of food and leave as soon as their mission gets accomplished.
Carpenter Ants vs Termites
Carpenter wood is often misconstrued as termites due to its fondness for wood, but they are entirely different. Termites feed upon wood, whereas carpenter ants only use wood to build their nests and do not eat wood. A few other features that differentiate the two are-
- Both have four wings. In Termites, all four wings are the same size, unlike the Carpenter ants where the front two wings are larger than the rear two wings.
- The wings of a termite are paddle-shaped, whereas it is pointed in carpenter ants.
- The antennae of termites are straight whereas carpenter ants have bent antennae.
Also read about: Fire Ants
How To Get Rid Of Carpenter Ants?
Like the regular ants, carpenter ants also have their army of scouts, and getting rid of them is a daunting task. Few measures that can help in your mission are-
- Set a bait for them by placing some sweet item like jam in a shallow bowl. When it comes to feeding upon the jam and carrying it back to its nest, you can easily follow its path to find its nest. You can add some baking soda with jam as it acts as a natural poison for the ants.
- Carpenter ants are entirely dependent on the pheromone trail. You can clean the surface they left their marks with some essential oil to destroy their trail or even use some DIY solutions. A mixture of dish soap and water or vinegar and water in 50-50 proportions can kill ants once you find their nests.
- If you succeed in locating the exact place of infestation of carpenter ants through traces of Frass or by the crinkling sound in the walls, you can drill 1/8” holes in a distance of six inches surrounding the inhabited area. Then you can spray boric acid through the holes using a bulb duster multiple times to kill the destructive ants.
Prevention can be preferred to cure. You can regularly use essential oils to keep the surfaces clean. As Carpenter ants hate the smell of cinnamon, you can use cinnamon as a natural ant repellent. Seal open cracks in walls and try to keep the food items in airtight containers.
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