Hamptons Home Invaders: Keeping Carpenter Ants Away

Don’t look now, but foraging hordes of carpenter ants are preparing to tear parts of your house to shreds. Then again, maybe you better look.

“What they’re doing now is gearing up for their growth period,” said Dr. Daniel R. Suiter, research scientist in the Center for Urban and Industrial Pest Management at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. ”They’re actively out looking for food and trying to expand their colony size. They’re setting up outposts.” Unfortunately for homeowners, Dr. Suiter said, the ants‘ outposts are often indoors.

”They can set up shop just about anywhere in the house. And several hundred to a thousand ants can set up a satellite colony literally overnight.” Yes, very scary.

In fact, carpenter ants are one of the most common insect pests found in homes. If you’ve got big black ants inside your house, they are most likely carpenter ants. The only true way to get rid of them is to hire a professional exterminating company.

In most cases, carpenter ants will establish their nest in moist areas where wood is likely to be soft or rotted—such as behind sinks or dishwashers or in roofs or attics near leaky vent pipes or chimneys. But we’ve also found nests inside hollow doors, in electrical outlet boxes, and inside boxes in the attic.

Typically, Mr. Hedges said, when homeowners think of carpenter ants they also think of termites, because both are wood-destroying insects. Unlike carpenter ants, however, termites will always establish their entire colony outside the house and make surgical strikes indoors from the safety of their underground nest.

And while termites eat wood, carpenter ants merely move it out of the way. They chew out galleries and dump the wood outside. That’s one of the first signs you’ll see—a pile of sawdust or wood shavings that keeps reappearing. It’s called frass. It’s kind of like a dumping ground for the colony.

Dr. Mike Potter, urban extension entomologist at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, said that carpenter ants found inside a home can be either advance troops from the main colony outside the house or members of an interior satellite colony.

Have questions about ants, termites and other pests? Contact The Bug Stops Here for all of your Pest Control needs from Manhattan to Montauk Point.   Phone 631-238-3116 in the Hamptons or visit www.thebugsstophere.com.

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