Spring Is Here, So Are Ants.
Carpenter ants are among the largest ant pests in Omaha, Nebraska and extermination of them is of major importance protecting your wood constructed properties.
There are several species of carpenter ants that may be found infesting homes and other buildings. Normally workers are black, or red and black, in color; and range in size from 3/8 to ½ inch. Winged queen ants may be as large as one inch. However, size is not a reliable characteristic for identifying carpenter ants. In Nebraska, there is one species with workers no larger than 3/16 inch.
A Colony of Ants are Divided Into Different Castes:
Workers, queens, and males. Some ants, including carpenter ants, have different sized workers which help the nest with a range of jobs from food collecting to nest defense. The best method to distinguish carpenter ants from other ants is by the following characteristics:
- a waist with one node (petiole) and
- a thorax with an evenly rounded upper surface.
Ant or Termite?
Carpenter ants differ from termite pests in that they have dark-colored bodies, narrow waists, elbowed (bent) antennae, and – if wings are present – hind wings that are shorter than front wings. Carpenter ants are very common and are frequently seen in the open, especially after sunset.
What Do They Eat?
Carpenter ants feed on sources of protein and sugar. Outdoors, carpenter ants feed on living and dead insects. They are also very attracted to honeydew, a sweet liquid produced by aphids and scale insects. Aphids and scales feed on trees, shrubs, and other plants. Indoors, carpenter ants feed on meats and pet food, as well as syrup, honey, sugar, jelly, and other sweets. Carpenter ants DO NOT eat wood. These pests remove wood as they create galleries and tunnels for nesting.
Most pest foraging is done at night between sunset and midnight during spring and summer months. Sometimes workers travel up to 100 yards from a nest in search of food. It is during this search that they may get into houses by searching along the foundation or along a tree branch that is touching the roof.
Where Do These Pests Live?
In Omaha there are two types of carpenter ant nests: parent colonies and satellite colonies. Parent colonies are typically established outdoors in moist wood including rotting trees, tree roots, tree stumps, and logs or boards lying on or buried in the ground. They may also nest in moist or decayed wood inside buildings. Wood decay may be caused by exposure to water leaks, condensation, or poor air circulation. Nests have been found behind bathroom tiles; around tubs, sinks, showers, and dishwashers; under roofing, in attic beams, and under subfloor insulation; and in hollow spaces such as doors, curtain rods, and wall voids. Areas around windows and where wood parts touch the foundation may be prone to infestation.
Nebraska carpenter ants damage wood by excavating and creating galleries and tunnels for their nest. These areas are clean, i.e. they do not contain sawdust or other debris, and are smooth, with a well sanded appearance.
The damage to wood structures is variable. The longer a colony is present in a structure, the greater the damage that can be done. Structural wood can be weakened when carpenter ant damage is severe.
Carpenter Ants During Nebraska Springs:
It is common to find carpenter ants in Omaha homes during spring. It is important to try to determine whether the ants are coming from an outdoor primary nests or an indoor area, although this can be difficult. Their presence is not sufficient evidence to conclude that there is a nest in your home. You may be able to make a more accurate determination based on when you first see carpenter ants. If you find carpenter ants in your home during late winter or early spring, that suggests the ants are coming from a nest in the building. However, if you see activity later in the year, it may be less clear if the nest is in the building.
You may also see carpenter ant swarms in Omaha (i.e. the reproductive queens and males, during spring. Carpenter ants produce large numbers of queens and males during late summer. They emerge from nests the following spring (this can also happen during late winter) for their nuptial flights. After mating, queens search for suitable sites to begin new nests. Once they land, their wings break off and each queen attempts to construct a new nest.
When carpenter ants nest indoors, mating swarms may become trapped inside. Finding large numbers of winged ants indoors is a sure sign that an indoor nest exists and may give the approximate location of the colony.
Carpenter Ants During Nebraska Winters:
In almost all cases, carpenter ants seen indoors during winter in the upper Midwest are an indication that there is an inside nest. One exception occurs with ants brought indoors via firewood. Workers carried in with firewood are not able to start nests in homes, nor do they damage wood structures in buildings.
What Can I Do For Prevention?
An important method for preventing carpenter ant problems indoors is to eliminate high moisture conditions that are attractive to them. Also, replace any moisture-damaged wood. Be careful to prevent moisture in wood or lumber that is stored in a garage or near the house and, if possible, elevate this wood to allow air circulation.
Store firewood as far away from buildings as possible. Remove tree and shrub stumps and roots. Trim branches that overhang the home so these branches don’t contact the house, including roof and eaves. Also, prune branches that touch electrical lines or other wires that are connected to the house; carpenter ants can travel from branches to lines and use them like a highway to buildings.