How to Correctly Identify Your Insect

How to Identify Your Insect

Carpenter ants in the United States are some of the largest ants and there can be several different types of carpenter ants infesting one home or business at a time. You will want to look for a black or red black in color and and they are typically about 3/8 to ½ inch in size. And you will typically see worker ants.

Carpenter ants are polymorphic meaning that the same species can have multiple sizes of workers. One of the best methods of identifying carpenter ants from other ants, is to look for their specific characteristics. They will have a waist with only one node and a thorax with an evenly rounded upper surface.

You want to correctly identify your ant, because some ants the resemble a carpenter ant are not wood destroying ants an can easily be mistaken for one.

Another confusing thing occurs when people see what they refer to as winged ants, you may have termites or you may have carpenter ants, so you will want to know the difference between the 2 and how to identify them correctly.
The difference between the 2 is that carpenter ants have dark colored bodies and narrow waist line, they have a definite segmented body where a termite will not. The Carpenter ant will have elbowed antennae and the hind wings will be shorter than their front wings.
Is it a Ant or Termite

Termites on the other hand are have light colored and not waist, they will have straight antennae and the wings are of equal length.

Carpenter ants eat forms of protein and sugar and outdoors the carpenter ants will feed on living and dead insects. Carpenter ants are also very attracted to honeydew which is a sweet liquid produced by aphids and scale insects. Indoors, carpenter ants feed on meats, as well as syrup, honey, sugar, jelly, and other sweets. They can switch from eating a sweet to a protein source at specific times of their season and also based on the food source that has been available to them. Carpenter ants are not eating the wood, they are only removing the wood as they create their galleries and tunnels.
Carpenter ants typically forage at night in between the sunset and midnight during the warmer months if summer. Most 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.

Carpenter ants will build their nest in moist wood including rotting trees, tree roots, tree stumps, and logs or boards lying on or buried in the ground. They are also attracted to areas that are moist and contain decaying wood. Areas in your home that maybe water pools or the gutter leaks in that particular site are all good places to look for termite or carpenter ant activity.

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. Carpenter ants may also nest in foam insulation.

The Carpenter ant causes damage to wood by excavating and creating their galleries and tunnels. How much damage depends on how long a colony has been there in that particular piece of wood.

Most people start seeing carpenter ants during the spring months, and if you can determine if they are coming from outside to the inside or if you have an interior nest that would be great. It is not always that easy, and the use of baits and non repelling insecticides will make it less necessary to know where they are living. If you are seeing them in late winter it is most likely that they have a active colony inside the structure.

Reproductive ant swarms are usually seen in early spring when temperatures and moisture levels are ideal for starting a new colony. Carpenter ants will produce large numbers of queens and males during late summer. They emerge from nests the following spring 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 ant nests are indoors, mating swarms 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.
It is important to remove any source of moisture conditions that will attract the carpenter ants to an area, when doing an inspection look for areas that are consistently wet. A moisture meter may be of some use and are relatively inexpensive.

Remove stumps and store wood away from the structure that you are trying to protect from Carpenter Ants or really any ant for that matter that might fine this to be a great harborage area.

If the nest is exposed or you can identify the areas that the ants are trailing then you can spray a non repelling insecticide on the exterior of the structure. They cannot identify the chemical as being present so they continue about their daily routines moving in and out of the chemical. Firponil is a good choice of chemical and it is contained in the product, Carpenter Ant Kits that continue both option for food source, you can text your ants by putting them both out at the same time, if they aggressively pick on food source up say the maxforce carpenter ant bait which is a honey dew formulation, then continue to apply that particular bait until you no longer see ants. If they pick up Advance Carpenter ant bait which is a protein based product continues placing this out daily. Always place your bait in areas that the ants will come in contact with, never spray an insecticide in the area where you are trying to get them to pick up the bait. Be Patient! It can take a couple of weeks to eliminate a colony.Termidor, by BASF.

Sprays on surfaces where ants travel or congregate, such as along baseboards or in holes or cracks in the walls and floors, may reduce the frequency and number of ants you see, you would want to also use a non repelling chemical something like Phantom, which is also available in an aerosol formulation to make easy application.

If the nest cannot be located, baits are a effective alternative. The carpenter ant baits work by combining an attractive food source with a slow-acting toxicant. The ants consume the bait and return to the nest to share the bait with the rest of the colony. Carpenter ants have complex food preferences, and that is why we recommend purchasing the Carpenter Ant Kits that continue both option for food source, you can text your ants by putting them both out at the same time, if they aggressively pick on food source up such as the Maxforce carpenter ant bait which is a honey dew formulation, then continue to apply that particular bait until you no longer see ants. If they pick up Advance Carpenter ant bait which is a protein based product continue placing this out daily as well.

Always place your bait in areas that the ants will come in contact with, never spray an insecticide in the area where you are trying to get them to pick up the bait. Be Patient! It can take a couple of weeks to eliminate a colony.

Monica Bird (922 Posts)

Monica’s compassion for her customer's struggles with pest control issues and passion for pest control stems from over 10 years in the industry. With a master’s degree in entomology, she uses her knowledge and experience in chemistry, insects and pests to educate her customers.


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