Pavement ants are one of the most common indoor pests found in New England. When these small brown or brownish-black ants invade buildings, they often construct their nests under the foundation. These ants originated in Europe and were introduced into the United States a couple of hundred years ago. They are now widespread and occur in all 50 states. Pavement ants become a nuisance when they enter homes in search of food. Food can be termites, other insects, sugar or protein based ingredients. These ants become a pest when they are found wandering around the inside of the house looking for sweets.
Other than foraging for food, these pests can cause structural and landscape damage due to building their nests under sidewalks, under building foundations and under patios. Although the mounds are easy to find, the actual nest can be very difficult to locate. Bug Busterzzz has proven experience in locating and eradicating these nuisance pests.
In Maine we have the red carpenter and the black carpenter ant. Their habits and sizes are similar, but the black carpenter ant is by far the most common.
Carpenter ants are large insects, ranging in size from 1/2-inch to one inch in length. Carpenter ants are active year-round and can be found both indoors and outside. It is also common for carpenter ants to have to have an outdoor nest, appearing indoors only to obtain water or food.
In nature, carpenter ants live in dead trees, rotting logs and tree stumps. They tend to build nests in deteriorating wood, but their colonies may extend to healthy wood, as well. In urban surroundings, carpenter ants will make their homes in telephone poles, house porch pillars and roofs, windowsills and wood that comes in contact with soil. Carpenter ants prefer to burrow into damp wood rather than dry wood.
Carpenter ants burrow to provide a nest for their colonies, and over a long period of time, their burrowing may compromise a structure. In controlling an infestation of carpenter ants, it is necessary to first find the nest. Once found, it can be removed or treated chemically. All moisture conditions that the ants found conducive must be corrected.
The closer an abundant water and food supply is to the nest, the faster an ant population increases, and the greater the need to enlarge the galleries to accommodate the colony. It is the ants’ excavating that damages or weakens wooden structures. Tunneling can take place inside any piece of wood without outwardly visible signs.Infestations may begin because of a water leak around the chimney, roof valley, gutter, window, door frame, or space under wooden floors when there is no basement. Sill areas invite ants, especially if soil touches the wood. Wood covered with backfill from new construction provides an excellent nesting place. Kitchen and bathrooms are also suspect, as a leak in a water pipe or water heating system provides the moisture the ants love. Always check firewood for ants before taking it indoors. Because carpenter ants are nocturnal, you probably will not see them unless they are under stress because of lack of water, food or nesting space, or because they are in a reproductive generation.
The presence of large ants usually is the first sign of infestation. Coarse sawdust is a sure sign, but it is often difficult to find the nest. 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. It is advisable to seek Bug Busterzzz’ professional help in containing carpenter ant infestations, as incorrect procedures may allow the colony to “rebound” when surviving member resume their burrowing and foraging.