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How to Identify Carpenter Ants in Your Home

Ants on a piece of wood.

Carpenter ants are a fairly common species of ants. Since these ants often cause damage to wood, they can commonly be mistaken for termites. Of course, the primary difference between these insects is that termites eat wood and carpenter ants only take shelter in wood. However, the galleries they create can create severe damage to the wood they infest, increasing the necessity for proper prevention and treatment. Residents can detect an infestation of carpenter ants by proper identification of these invasive insects.

Carpenter Ant Identification

The sheer number of species of carpenter ants makes identification difficult. Size and color can vary among the species and individuals in even just one colony. Most carpenter ants measure from 2 to 13 mm in length. These ants can be red, black, yellow, or brown. Although carpenter ants are one of the larger species of ants, size isn’t a reliable feature when it comes to identification since the species size varies widely. In some cases, identification can only be reliably made by pest control professionals. You may need to consult Got Bugs for professional identification of carpenter ants to ensure the correct treatment is being implemented.

Carpenter Ant Swarms

When carpenter ants swarm during mating, the insects are often mistaken for termites. The most important identifying features are:

  • Elbowed antennae
  • Pinched waists
  • Longer front wings

Termite swarms have straight antennae, broad waists, and wings all the same length. However, both pests can present serious problems for your property, so you may need to enlist professional services for pest control. Got Bugs is here to help eliminate both of these pests, whenever you need us!

Locating the carpenter ant nest is primarily the most important part of controlling them. You must follow trails of worker ants to discover clean and smooth areas and slit-like windows dotting the surface of ant-damaged wood. This can be both difficult and time-consuming. The professionals at Got Bugs are equipped to locate a carpenter ant infestation.

How to Deter Ants

Apply Scents and Deterrents

It may sound strange, but ants won’t cross a line of chalk. One method is to line possible entryways where you’ve noticed ants coming in from the outside - or inside. For instance, trace a square around your entire window with a thick line of chalk, or around sidewalk cracks and doorways where you’ve spotted them parading around. Coffee, cinnamon, and lemon have also been known to deter ants, but these substances need to be directly applied to areas where ants crawl in your home.

Create Your Own Liquid Traps

A home remedy is to create a mixture of Borax (a powdered hand soap), water, and sugar. The mixture should be thick, almost syrupy. However, it’s very important to note that Borax is a toxic substance that can be harmful to children and pets. If you choose this route, be sure to keep the mixture in a small petri dish or other container and remove them if children, pets, or guests are around. These homemade traps take a couple of weeks to work.

Seal Food, Especially Sweets

We can all learn something from Mom’s admonition to keep the cookie jar sealed beyond just staying away from sweets. The same principle applies to ants who love sugary substances and foods like honey, cookies, and sugary drinks. Be sure all food is sealed, both on countertops and in your pantry and cupboards.

Keep Them From Returning

Unfortunately, these methods all err on the side of coping strategies rather than tactics that kill colonies and keep them from coming back. If you’re tired of ants every spring and serious about getting rid of the problem, make your home a hospitable place in no time by bringing in an exterminator to deal with the issue.

Do you think you might have an ant problem?

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