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|Carpenter ants are among the largest ants found in homes and live in colonies containing three castes consisting of winged and wingless queens, winged males and workers.
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Reference: Ohio State University Extension
Carpenter ants are a nuisance by their presence when found in parts of the home such as the kitchen, bathroom, living room and other quarters. When 20 or more large winged and/or wingless ants are found indoors, in the daytime near one location, it is possible that the colony is well established in the home and the nest may have been extended into sound wood, sometimes causing structural damage. They do not eat wood, but often remove quantities of it to expand their nest size. However, if only one to two large wingless ants are erratically crawling, they may simply be foraging for food with the nest located outside. Outdoors, they are frequently seen running over plants and tree trunks or living in moist, partly rotten wood stumps. Nevertheless, carpenter ant inquiries rank first over all other household/structural pests in Ohio.
Life Cycle and Habits
Winged male and female carpenter ants (swarmers) emerge from mature colonies usually from March to July. After mating, males die and newly fertilized females (mated for life), establish a new colony in a small cavity in wood, under bark, etc. and each lays 15 to 20 eggs in 15 days. The egg stage takes about 24 days, larval stage 21 days and pupal stage 21 days or about 66 days from egg to adult at 70 to 90 degrees F. Cool weather may lengthen this period up to 10 months. The colony does not produce swarmers until about three year's later. A mature colony, after three to six year's, has 2,000 to 4,000 individuals. During the first brood, larvae are fed entirely by a fluid secreted from the queen's mouth where she does not take food, but uses stored fat reserves and wing muscles for her nourishment. The few workers emerging from the first brood assume duties of the colony, collecting food, excavating galleries to enlarge the nest and tending the eggs, larvae and pupae of the second generation. Workers regurgitate food for nourishment of the developing larvae and queen. She has few duties except to lay eggs.
In later generations, workers of various sizes are produced (polymorphism) into major and minor workers, that are all sterile females. Males formed are winged swarmers. Larger "major" workers guard the nest, battle intruders, explore and forage for food while smaller "minor" workers expand the nest and care for the young. workers, when disturbed, carry off the larvae and pupa, which must be fed and tended or they die. In a mature colony, there is usually one queen with 200 to 400 winged individuals produced as swarmers. Workers have strong jaws and readily bite (sharp pinch) when contacted.
Nests are usually established in soft, moist (not wet), decayed wood or occasionally in an existing wood cavity or void area in a structure that is perfectly dry. Workers cut galleries in the wood, expanding the nest size for the enlarging colony. Galleries are irregular, usually excavated with the wood grain (sometimes across the grain) into softer portions of the wood. The walls of the nest are smooth and clean (sandpapered appearance) with shredded sawdust-like wood fragments, like chewed up toothpicks (frass), carried from the nest and deposited outside. These piles of wood fragments, often found beneath special openings (windows) or nest openings, may contain portions of insects, empty seed coats, etc.
Carpenter ants do not eat wood but excavate wood galleries to rear their young ants and carry aphids to plants, placing them on leaves for the production of honey dew. The food diet is of great variety (omnivorous) of both plant and animal origin such as plant juices, fresh fruits, insects (living or dead), meats, syrup, honey, jelly, sugar, grease, fat, honey dew (aphid excrement), etc. They feed readily on termites and usually never co-exist with them in a home. Workers are known to forage for food as far as 100 yards from their nest.
There are many insecticides labelled for ant control. Before using an insecticide, always read the label, follow directions and safety precautions.
Restricted Use Pesticides, available for the licensed pest control operator or applicator, would include bendiocarb+ pyrethrins (Ficam Plus) cyfluthrin (Optem, Tempo), cypermethrin (Cynoff, Cyper-Active, Demon, Vikor), deltamethrin (Suspend), lambdacyhalothrin (Commodore), permethrin (Dragnet, Flee, Prelude, Torpedo), propetamphos (Safrotin) and tralomethrin (Saga). Outdoor Use only would include fenvalerate (Tribute) and fluvalinate (Mavrik, Yardex). Other labelled materials are acephate (Orthene), ammonium silica gel (Drione, Tri-Die), bendiocarb (Ficam), boric acid (Borid), borate (Bora-Care, Drax, Mop-Up, Niban, Perma-Dust, Tim-Bor), carbaryl (Sevin), chlorpyrifos (Duration, Dursban, Empire, Engage, Killmaster II, Tenure), chlorpyrifos + pyrethrins (Dual Use), diatomaceous earth (Answer), diazinon (Knox Out), esfenvalerate (Conquer), propoxur (Baygon), pyrethrins (Exciter, Kicker, Microcare, Pyrenone, Pyrethrum, Safer, Synerol, Uld, X-Clude), resmethrin (Vectrin), sulfuramid (Pro-Control), and sumithrin (Steri-Fab).
Bait and granular formulations are usually not highly effective against carpenter ants. Dusts, wettable powders, injections, and sprayables are better. It is often best to employ a licensed pest control firm, especially where nests are hard to find. Some firms attempt to locate the nest or nests and treat only in suspected places. Others drill and dust potential nesting sites. Most apply a perimeter spray treatment around the house foundation. Avoid simply spraying each month whenever ants are seen. Infestations will continue unless nests are eliminated. Locating the nest is not always easy, but is essential for control.
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|Data Source: Ohio State University Extension. Articles and resource may contain pesticide recommendations that are subject to change at any time. These recommendations are provided only as a guide and it is always the pesticide applicator's responsibility, by law, to read and follow all current label directions for the specific pesticide being used.|