Black-Winged Carpenter Ants (Order Hymenoptera)
General Pest Information:
Black swarming carpenter ants are usually seen in small numbers, that is, less than 100, and usually appear in the cooler part of a hot humid day. They are attracted to light and are usually found swarming around electric light bulbs or other light sources. The adult winged female is usually larger than the winged male. Placing a low pan of water, such as a pie pan, under the light source will attract the ants that are flying under the light source. The presence of winged carpenter ants is an indication that a colony has established itself in the nearby area. The carpenter ant colony is usually associated with damp, wet wood. In hunting for sources of infestation, pay particular attention to fireplace logs, hollow wood porch supports, or other wood members where moisture may have collected. Most infestations are difficult to find unless the source of moisture is rather evident. Metal flashing around chimneys, vents, roof valleys, and adjoining porches should be checked for leaks. Driving rain can sometimes cause moisture to be absorbed into hollow wood posts of porches, behind loose fitting boards, or un-caulked areas under and around windows, doors and other openings. The nesting area for these ants must be kept damp. Carpenter ants are often difficult to locate, since the point of entry may be quite a distance from the place where the galleries and nesting areas in the wood are located. Carpenter ant infestation is usually established in new locations, either by a fertile queen or through migration of all or part of an existing colony. Houses in wooded areas or in damp, humid locations are most likely to become infested, although they can at times infest dwellings in thickly populated areas of the city. Where an infestation has been established for a long time and the colony has grown to be a large one, usually numbering several thousand ants, structural damage may be extensive enough to require major repairs to the infested areas.
Carpenter Ant Life Cycle:
Carpenter ants prefer temperatures in the normal range of 70 to 90 degrees fahrenheit. A normal period from egg to adult is from 60 to 75 days. This growth rate may be slowed during the winter months. The winged adults are usually observed from the middle of May through summer and fall up to the first freezing temperatures. There may be more than one queen in a colony, especially in large colonies numbering two to three thousand worker ants. These ants may vary in length from 6mm to 15mm long. The colony is usually started by one queen who begins to pick her nest in damp decaying wood, in a hole dug in a tree, in the soil or under a rock. The wood damaged by carpenter ants has a tunneling effect, without the soil or mud placement as with subterranean termites. The tunnels or galleries of carpenter ants are irregular in shape, much like our caverns and caves in the earth, whereas the subterranean termite galleries follow the grain of the wood with a characteristic placement of soil. Branches of trees overhanging at the roof of a building are one common source of infestation. Most of the work in the carpenter ant colony is done by the small sexless workers. Carpenter ants do not feed on the wood that they infest. They only use the wood as a nesting place, from which they scavenge for food. Therefore sawdust will usually be found in the area immediately beneath the infestation. They will eat almost anything preferring liquids or fluids. Other insects, sugar, jelly, fruits, meats, grease, fats, plant juices, are all part of their diet.
How to Control Black-Winged Carpenter Ants:
One of the first things to be considered in carpenter ant control is to find the source of moisture and eliminate it. Carpenter ants have been known to nest in hollow core doors, around warm chimneys, and in the soil adjoining the building. Structural defects allowing moisture to get into the wood should be corrected immediately. Control of carpenter ants can be a very difficult problem if the infestation is enclosed in plastered or finished walls. Dusting powders into cracks and crevices of the walls, plus the use of liquid pesticides are very important. Where the location of the infestation permits, drilling into the infested area and applying a residual pesticide is very effective. Surface application of residual pesticide along baseboards, toe strips, around doorways and ant runways to the outside is very effective. An occasional ant may be observed after this treatment. Unless the source or colony can be found and destroyed, the customer should always be warned that application of residual pesticide is not an immediate instantaneous cure all for carpenter ant infestation. Stray insects from overhanging trees can continue to be an annoyance to the home owner, even though the infestation and colony have been eliminated. In sections where large wooded areas surround the dwelling, the owner should be warned that surface infestations may reappear. For this reason, regular periodic inspections and possible re-treatments are recommended.
Need Additional Help?
If you have any questions or would like further information on this subject, contact Doc Pickhardt of American Pest Control at: firstname.lastname@example.org