Although you might not care about much else aside from how to get rid of them as soon as possible, carpenter ants are actually very interesting animals we could all learn more about. So while we will cover some ways to rid your home of these pesky insects, take a moment to read this and better appreciate them as well.
1. Their Name
As you may have guessed (or found out the hard way) carpenter ants get their unique name because of their preference for creating nests out of wood. While these nests suit them perfectly fine, this obviously becomes a problem for those of us trying to live in homes made out of wood.
2. Different Types
There are over 12,000 different types of ants on this planet that we currently know about. So it probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that nine of those are considered different types of carpenter ants.
Of course, they all have different jobs within their colony. So you have a worker carpenter ant that is only about as wide as pencil’s diameter and then you have a queen ant which can be as long across as a quarter.
3. The Colony
Speaking of which, the colony is the central part of every carpenter ant’s life. This is the case with all types of ants of course. Carpenter ants build a colony around their one fertilized queen. She starts it off by finding a cavity amongst wood. From there she begins her nest.
When the first brood hatches, the queen now has a small army of workers. The queen is actually a very good mother, feeding her brood saliva and refusing to leave the nest or even feed herself.
Once they’re ready, however, the workers set off into the world with one mission and one mission only: gather food. In an impressive display of cooperation, ants will bring the food they find back to the nest to feed the queen and prepare for the next generation of worker ants. This cycle will continue as the queen continues to produce more worker ants. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a colony of carpenter ants to reach 2,000 or more!
Despite what many people think, carpenter ants don’t actually eat the wood they harvest. Instead, they leave tiny chunks of it outside the entrance of their colony. These form into small piles.
Carpenter ants actually eat a diverse diet of things that are alive and dead. This includes other insects and scraps of food it find like meat and fats. The ants also have a sweet tooth, so any sugary substance is sure to attract them. The nectar of plants and honeydew are well documented favorites.
As we covered, carpenter ants love to make their homes out of wood (just like you!). But they have a preference. Not any wood will do. Instead, their preference is the damp variety. For this reason, carpenter ants are particularly fond of tree stumps, plants you may have growing around you home and firewood.
Unfortunately, this is often how they find their way into your home. If carpenter ants find wet or damaged wood on the outside of your home, they’ll be sure to take that as a welcome sign.
Worse still, carpenter ants are quite adaptive. Was that wet wood on the side of your house a fluke? Doesn’t matter. They’ll happily adapt to drier climates in order to make use of your house.
Fortunately, carpenter ants aren’t the type of pests that carry disease with them. But, of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t do a lot of damage. When they burrow through the wood in your home, they leave smooth tubular paths. These tunnels can easily weaken your home’s infrastructure. In some cases, they can even weaken the foundation. In either scenario, the remedy is expensive.
Alright, here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. This is how you can prevent getting carpenter ants in the first place and get rid of them if you end up having them in your home.
- Always get rid of standing water.
- Keep all vegetation away from the home.
- Check the bottom perimeter of your home for cracks they could enter.
- Keep firewood and building materials far away from your house.
Once carpenter ants are in your home, your best bet will be traps or calling an exterminator asap.
Pete Kontakos is a husband and father that enjoys writing about various topics like animals, sports and health. He is certified as a wrestling coach and has Management experience in the food and retail industries.