Carpenter ants are commonly wingless, non-reproducing adults of the worker caste. All ants live in large groups or colonies consisting of hundreds of workers, a few reproductive males and females as well as at least one queen. Mating takes place in flight by winged ants during late spring and early summer. Shortly after, the male dies and the single fertilized queen ant finds a suitable nesting place to lay eggs and begin a new colony. The small, white, oval eggs hatch into larvae. The queen continues nourishment until the larvae pupate and adult ants emerge. If warm temperatures exist, the egg to adult cycle can be completed in three months. At first, the colony is small, however, in later years the population can increase to 2000-3000 ants.
Monitoring In order to control carpenter ants, it is very important to locate the nest. Monitoring may be most effective at night as this is when the ants are most active, leaving the nest to search for food. Some helpful facts to remember when monitoring for carpenter ants are that they tend to follow a definite trail and they make rustling sounds while in their nests which can be heard if the surrounding area is quiet.
Understanding the habits and life cycle of the carpenter ant can be useful in its control. They are most active and cause most damage during warm summer months. Carpenter ant control may be achieved by the following: reduce or prevent excess moisture in wood; remove possible food sources; avoid storing wood inside or close to the house for long periods of time; remove any decaying wood found around the home and practice good sanitation measures.
Remove attractive food sources; store food and garbage in sealed containers to decrease attractions for carpenter ants; caulk openings or install barriers on areas which could act as entrances for ants; and provide good ventilation inside the home. If a nesting site is found, determine the extent of the damage. If structural damage has occurred, it may be necessary to remove the damaged section and the section containing the nest. If damage is minor or removal of the wood is not possible, use a high suction vacuum to remove the ants. This should greatly reduce the colony, however, it may not totally eliminate the problem. Be sure to discard the vacuum bag in a tightly sealed garbage bag.