Florida residents have to worry about two species of carpenter ants that are all too common invaders of people’s homes. The black carpenter ant and the Florida carpenter ant account for the vast majority of ant complaints and infestations in the state, with Florida carpenter ants making up over 20 percent of those infestations. Not only do they invade homes in search of food, as most ant species are known to do, but the black carpenter ant in particular will excavate soft, moist wood and other pliant materials such as foamed plastic insulation boards, in order to make a nesting site inside the home. Florida carpenter ants, thankfully, do not generally do their own excavating, but will for the most part set up their nest in an existing void. Unfortunately, Florida carpenter ants are known for biting people, unlike black carpenter ants. There are, however, ways you can recognize and determine if these two species are infesting your home.
Black carpenter ants are generally dark brown to black in color, with workers being wingless and around ¼ to ½ inch long, while the similar-looking reproductive ants have wings and ¾ inch long. The first sign of an infestation is usually the presence of the large wingless workers crawling about inside your home. The best way to prevent an infestation in the first place is to make sure any logs, stumps, or wood waste are at least 100 yards away. You also don’t want any vegetation around your home to be in direct contact with the exterior. Making sure the wood components in your home are in good condition and not too moist or old. If you think you have an infestation and want to try controlling it yourself before calling a pest control professional, the best thing to do is locate all of the ants nesting sites and eliminate them. There are a number of insecticide sprays, baits, and dusts that can be used to do this.
Florida carpenter ants are the largest ants that you can find in the state, making them stand out and fairly easy to recognize. Workers can range in size from 5.5 to 11mm in length and are wingless, while the winged females are the largest in size at 20 mm in length. The thorax and head of Florida carpenter ants are ash brown to rusty-orange in color, with the gaster or back half of their body being black in contrast. While they cannot sting you, these ants will bite and spray formic acid on that bite in defense when they feel threatened. These ants will enter homes to forage for food, and can be spotted foraging at night when an infestation is present. They are often discovered in kitchens when foraging and areas such as bathrooms and other rooms that might have water leaks when looking for a nesting site. As with black carpenter ants, shrubbery and trees that come in contact with a building’s exterior are what gives them access into your home. Elimination of these will go a long way towards protecting your home from an infestation. Infestations are not easy to eliminate, and calling in a pest control professional is usually necessary. These nesting sites have to be directly treated and eliminated, but they are notoriously hard to locate, as they are often hidden and inaccessible. Watching out for foragers returning to a void is generally the best way to find these nesting sites. Using insecticide baits, dusts, and sprays can help control the infestation, but they are most successful when applied directly to each nest. However, too much treatment can actually make the ants move to or find another nesting site. Calling in a professional is your best bet, however, as even experts have spent years trying to find all of the hidden nesting sites and failed.
Have you ever seen either of these ants inside your home?
Tags: Carpenter Ant, Carpenter Ant Control, Carpenter Ant Exterminator