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Pest Control Spotlight: Carpenter Ants

Everything in nature serves a purpose. Carpenter ants are important in natural settings, as they help break down dead trees. However, when these engineers of the natural world nest in human homes, trouble arises. The following is a look at what carpenter ants are and why it’s best to contract with a residential or commercial pest management company to rid yourself of these pests, rather than trying to eradicate them yourself.

What are carpenter ants?

There are several varieties of carpenter ants in the Pacific Northwest, but they all have a few things in common. First, they don’t actually eat wood; they just burrow into it to build their nests. A carpenter ant colony begins with a single queen, which lays just a few eggs at a suitable nesting site. These eggs hatch into the first worker ants, some of whom forage at night and return to the nest in early morning to feed non-foraging members of the colony. The queen continues to lay eggs until the colony may harbor thousands of ants.

Carpenter ants enjoy a wide variety of foods, including other insects, honeydew from aphids, fats, meats and sweets. When a carpenter ant colony reaches 2,000 members and has been around for a while (6-10 years), it may produce winged or swarming carpenter ants.      

What threat do carpenter ants pose?

The carpenter ant’s engineering prowess is a problem for homeowners. Carpenter ants hollow out smooth compartments in all types of wood – in homes, they may nest around windows, decks, porches and roof eaves. Poorly maintained log cabins are especially prone to carpenter ant infestations. Over time, carpenter ants can create dangerous weaknesses in your home’s structure.

Of all residential and commercial pest management challenges, carpenter ants are often some of the most difficult to conquer. One reason these insects are so tough to control is that they often build satellite nests that homeowners cannot find easily.

How do I get rid of them?

Considering that carpenter ants thrive in Pacific Northwest cities including Portland and Vancouver, pest management professionals recommend that you regularly check for their presence at your home and business. It’s always easier to eliminate a new colony than it is to try to destroy one that’s been around for years.

You may conduct a home pest inspection yourself or hire a residential or commercial pest management company to do it for you. A home pest inspection for carpenter ants should include a walk-around of the entire property. Be on the lookout for pyramid-shaped piles of sawdust; carpenter ants like to keep their colonies clean, so they dump out this sawdust as they create chambers. Rotting, moist wood is especially attractive to carpenter ants.

If you do find evidence of a carpenter ant colony during your home pest inspection, or at any other time, it’s wise to contact a Portland or Vancouver pest management professional, as this species is notoriously difficult to eliminate. Pest baits generally won’t work, since carpenter ants have such a varied diet. Residential and commercial pest management sprays are usually ineffective as well, since most colonies have multiple satellite nests. Fairly small colonies may be vacuumed out, but again it’s not easy to ensure you’ve destroyed the entire thing.

The bottom line for a carpenter ant infestation in Portland or Vancouver: Pest management professionals can save you time and frustration by eliminating the entire colony of ants using professional residential and commercial pest management techniques.

[ photo by: sanchom ]

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