Carpenter ants are major household pests in all regions of the contiguous United States, and these ant pests are notorious for causing both nuisance and costly structural infestations within homes. The black carpenter ant species is particularly destructive to structural wood sources within homes in the northeast, and eliminating these types of infestations is difficult since the ant pests cannot be readily observed when they are nesting within lumber components located within wall voids and beneath floorboards. Like nearly all carpenter ant species, black carpenter ants are large-bodied insects that can be identified by their perfectly rounded abdomens, and workers are known for foraging long distances from their nest where they often wander indoors. Repeated trips along the same foraging roots create beaten pathways within dirt and grass, allowing future generations of carpenter ants to use these pathways in order to secure food with relative ease. It is not uncommon to find these pathways leading into houses, but they can be helpful when attempting to locate nesting sites. Carpenter ants are active during the spring, summer and fall seasons, but indoor infestations within structural wood can persist throughout the winter season.

During the month of March, swarms of reproductive carpenter ants emerge from mature colonies in order to establish new colonies. Carpenter ants remain active from March until October before becoming dormant during the winter, but in some cases, colonies remain active within indoor locations during the winter. Capturing carpenter ant specimens found indoors can be difficult due to their fast movements, and these pests usually emerge from their indoor hiding spots 15 minutes after sundown in order to search a home for food sources. Mature carpenter ant colonies usually consist of around 10,000 specimens, but only 10 to 15 percent of a colony’s workers emerge from the nest at night in order to forage. Some indoor carpenter ant nests are established within structural wood, while other nests are found within hidden areas of a home where wood is absent. Carpenter ants will only nest within moist wood sources, and the most common areas of a home where nests are found within wood include window sills, attic spaces, door frames, wall-voids, below bathroom baseboards, porch supports, siding, and even beneath shingles. Infestations have also been found within fiberglass and foam insulation. Carpenter ants become abundant during the mid to late summer months, which is when infestations are most likely to occur.

Have you found any ants in your kitchen this year?