Winged Carpenter Ants: How to Identify and Control These Pests

Winged Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants have been known to cause significant damage to homes, sheds, and garages made of wood. Oftentimes, they are confused with termites because they also make their nests in wood, and at a glance, they look a bit the same.

How to Identify Carpenter Ants

While the color of carpenter ants greatly varies, they are mostly black, dark brown, and reddish black. Meanwhile, their workers have no wings, whereas the reproductive males and queens have two sets of wings, with the front set being longer than the rear set.

By contrast, termites have equal-sized wings that are larger than their body.

Carpenter ants also have a well-defined waist and bent antennae, while termites have no waist and have completely straight antennae.

Unlike termites that create tunnels and eat wood, turning it into rough and rugged tunnels, carpenter ants only chew on it to create “smooth” channels. Instead of eating wood, these insects mainly feed on sugars and proteins, such as syrup, meat, honey, jelly, and fruits.

If you have an infestation in and around your home, hiring a professional pest control contractor is your best bet. Remember that carpenter ants have jaws that can inflict painful bites and have poison glands in their abdomen to spray formic acid at their enemies, causing a burning sensation.

During summer, carpenter ants are less active. But as the temperature starts to drop, they become more aggressive that’s why infestation generally occurs during winter, which is the total opposite of termites’ behavior.

They Can Wreak Havoc

According to some insurance companies, if left untreated, colonies can cause more structural damage than natural disasters like flooding and earthquakes. And, unfortunately, it is not generally covered by home insurers.

Carpenter ants prefer wood that has been wet or damaged by mold, although they are also known to nest inside dry, undamaged wood.

Once the colony becomes established, it can expand into undamaged wood, which over time can weaken the structural integrity of your home, especially if it primarily attacks the sill wood, lumber, and window frames.

Signs of Infestation

If you see ants in or around your home during late autumn, winter, or early spring, especially if they flock around spongy wood, leaky wall, drains, and roofing, you most likely have an infestation. Their preference for moist areas is one of the most obvious signs that you are dealing with carpenter ants and not termites.

Prevent and Treat Infestation

To deter infestation, remove any direct contact between your home’s structure and the surrounding shrubs/trees, soil, mulch, and other organic matter. For example, make sure that the plants around your house are well-trimmed (ideally, there should be no branch “touching” your foundation.

Additionally, store firewood away from your home, seal gaps and crevices in the foundation through weather-stripping and caulking, and repair damaged window screens.

To reiterate, winged carpenter ants are attracted to moist and rotting wood, so make sure to throw them away and repair leaky pipes and other plumbing issues immediately.

If you see significant infestation, it is better to call the pros than resort to some DIY pest control treatment. Take note that carpenter ants are resilient insects, so you’ll need multiple methods to eliminate them for good.

If the nest is not accessible, professional pest control contractors use toxic bait that often takes effect after three days. Usually, they are combined with other “targeted” treatments to get rid of the infestation without harming non-target animals (pet dogs and cats) and beneficial insects.

To learn more about eco-friendly pest control treatments, contact Pest Be Gone at (916) 257-4942 or fill out this form if you want to schedule a free consultation.