So you have
Carpenter Ants . . .
We inspect and treat for nesting of Camponotus modoc and Camponotus vicinius within structures.
Colour: black, red or a combination
Shape: segmented; oval
Size: 7-13 mm
About carpenter ants
On the Sunshine Coast we inspect and treat for two species of carpenter ants, Camponotus modoc (all black), and Camponotus vicinus (black and red). What’s the difference?
Well, beyond their colour differences did you know . . .
C. modoc will nest in wood that has been damaged by water or wood decay, but can also expand their nest into sound wood and cause significant structural damage.
While C. vicinus have the potential to cause structural damage, satellite nests are usually only found in insulation.
C. modoc will build a parent colony with a single queen outside in trees, stumps, wood piles, or landscape ties. Rarely do they establish parent colonies inside, so it is usually satellite colonies that are discovered in homes and other structures. These satellite colonies do not have queens present, and larvae and pupae are transported between parent and satellite nests. Mature colonies can have up to 50,000 workers with 1 queen.
Like C. modoc, the parent colony of C. vicinus is usually found outside, and satellite nests within homes. However, C. vicinus colonies can grow very large, very quickly, as each colony can contain numerous queens. This growth potential means we typically find multiple nesting sites with significant numbers of ants infesting a single structure. Mature colonies can have up to 100,000 workers and as many as 40 queens.
It is a common misconception that carpenter ants eat wood. Outdoors they are looking to feed on living and dead insects and the sweet liquid produce by aphids and scale insects (honeydew). When found indoors, carpenter ants feed on meats and pet food, as well as sweets such as syrup, honey, sugar and jelly.
Carpenter ants hollow out wood to make their nest inside. This can cause structural damage, though it can take years before the damage is significant. Usually piled up near nest sites, carpenter ant frass resembles sawdust, and is the waste product produced from their normal diet and wood-excavating activities.
Treatment for carpenter ants can be quite involved. In our experience, working in stages is the most cost-effective, responsible and safest approach. It works just as well as a blanket treatment of the whole house, but is site-specific, targeted to the pest that’s causing the issue, and won’t douse your home in unnecessary pesticides.
We pinpoint individual nests and treat them locally (spot treatments) by applying an insecticide into the wall / floor / ceiling void where areas of ant nesting are most obvious. This works to eliminate the nest and colony members from within the home. Often more than one treatment is required, and successful treatment is a process of elimination over a season or two.
The most important component to prevent re-infestation will be yearly application of the exterior perimeter treatment. Carpenter ants usually have a parent colony outside that expands into structures via satellite nests. Eliminating a satellite nest within the home does not prevent the outside colony from eventually re-establishing the interior nest. In fact, they prefer to rebuild, and will favour the same spot year after year.
Once we’re satisfied that we’ve identified and treated the most obvious areas of interior nesting, an outside perimeter barrier spray is applied. This isolates ants within the structure and outside. It’s literally a barrier that ants can’t travel across without dying (while being non toxic to people & pets and even non-crawling insects). Once the barrier spray is completed, we wait 1-2 weeks to see how the ants react. It is usually quite evident to homeowners if a problem still exists. Ants trapped within the barrier will continue to be seen inside, at least to some extent, so long as they have an active nest. This is how we know if we’ve solved the problem, or if further spot treating is required.
If interior nesting is suspected, but it is not possible to confirm and / or pinpoint areas of nesting, we will apply an exterior barrier treatment first, prior to any spot treatment. When done correctly, an exterior perimeter treatment will reveal current nesting problems. Ants, now trapped within the home, will appear more frequently as they forage for food and water sources.
What if you do nothing?
Some people wonder what will happen if nothing is done to treat active ant nesting. Maybe they noticed ants inside during previous years, but once the warm, summer weather arrived the ants disappeared. Without treatment, this is typical.
Over summer, carpenter ants may make an odd appearance inside if there are food attractants, or in drought conditions, when they come in search of water. Carpenter ants prefer to be outside and are usually only discovered inside during February, March and April because they have been fooled into thinking it is spring – inside your home.
Many homeowners believe when they stop seeing ants inside it is because they’ve left. The reality is they’ve just changed their foraging activity from inside your home to outside, where they prefer to be. The parent nest outside will work to increase the number of individuals in satellite nests inside each summer and the colony will continue to grow.
Give Us a Call
Exterior Perimeter Treatments
Exterior perimeter treatments (EPTs) work to prevent problems caused by carpenter ants before they get started by application of a continuous barrier product along the outside perimeter of the structures you wish to protect.
Watch our Treatment Videos
Carpenter ants are the most significant pest we deal with and can cause serious damage to homes and structures. Explore a variety of videos showcasing our inspection and treatment expertise with carpenter ants.