PESTS - CARPENTER ANTS
Carpenter ants are so named because of their habit of excavating, tunneling and living in wood. In Maine we have the red carpenter and the black carpenter ant. Their habits and sizes are similar, but the latter is by far the most common. Carpenter ants are one of the larger ants in Maine.
Like honey bees, ants are social insects. An ant colony consists of workers and a queen. The workers are sterile, wingless females, about 1/4 inch long, the smallest residents of the colony. They gather food and water to feed the colony, and gnaw out wood to make areas in which the colony lives.
On Carpenter Ants
"Carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) are large (0.3 to 1.0 in or 0.76 to 2.54 cm) ants indigenous to many forested parts of the world. They build nests inside wood consisting of galleries chewed out with their mandibles, preferably in dead, damp wood."
The presence of large ants usually is the first sign of infestation. Coarse sawdust piles in areas of your home is a sign of carpenter ants. At night, turning on a light to observe ant activity around a sweet that has been left out may reveal an “ant line” to and from the nest. Sometimes the insects’ activity can be heard in walls. Tapping areas suspected of harboring nests may produce a hollow sound, and some excited ants may appear. Carpenter ants tend to be most active between 10 pm and 2 am.
MANAGEMENT AND PREVENTION
An important method for preventing carpenter ant problems indoors is to eliminate high moisture conditions that are attractive to them. Also, replace any moisture-damaged wood. Be careful that wood or lumber that is stored in a garage or near the house is kept dry and, if possible, elevated to allow air circulation.
Store firewood as far away from buildings as possible. Remove tree and shrub stumps and roots. Trim branches that overhang the home.
NOTE: Be sure the tree or shrub species can be pruned at the time you wish; e.g., do not prune oak between April 15 and September 15 because of the risk of oak wilt. Also since carpenter ants can travel from branches to lines and electrical wires and use them like a highway to buildings, branches that touch electrical lines or other wires should be trimmed. You should NOT trim those brances yourself; this triming sohould be done by professionals.