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How Can Homeowners Tell The Difference Between Carpenter Ant Workers That Nest In Structural Lumber, And Those That Merely Pose A Nuisance Within Homes?

July 16th, 2020

Many pest management professionals say that carpenter ants are the most difficult native ant pests to control, and there are several valid reasons for this claim. For one thing, most carpenter ant infestations see workers establish one or more nests within inaccessible indoor spaces where they cannot be readily detected or treated. These spaces include wall voids, ceiling voids, attic spaces, voids behind cabinets, and structural woodwork. Also, eliminating infestations requires multiple control techniques including the occasional use of professional grade baits that are specifically designed to lure carpenter ant workers.

Not only are carpenter ants the most commonly controlled ant pests, but they are, unsurprisingly, the most economically costly structural pests in the country. Much like termites, multiple carpenter ant pest species excavate nesting tunnels within the structural wood of homes and buildings, sometimes resulting in expensive repairs, and in some cases, structural failure. The most commonly controlled and economically significant carpenter ant pest in the country is commonly known as the black carpenter ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus), and this species is most abundant in the southeastern states. However, this species is not the only carpenter ant pest that is known for establishing structural infestations within homes and buildings in Georgia.

The majority of carpenter ant infestations in Georgia are established by either black carpenter ants or Florida carpenter ants (C. floridanus), both of which are known to nest within moist, and occasionally, sound structural wood. The former is prevalent in central and northern Georgia, while the latter is the primary carpenter ant pest in the south. Less common carpenter ant pest species that may nest within structural wood in Georgia homes include C. nearcticus and C. decipiens.

Carpenter ant species are known for being the largest ants in North America, as major workers from most species exceed ¼ inch in length. Both black and Florida carpenter ant workers that are seen foraging indoors and creeping into wall voids are between ¼ and ? inch in length, and the former is shiny black, while the latter has a reddish-brown head and a dark brown to black abdomen, or “gaster.” C. nearcticus and C. decipiens are unusually small for carpenter ants, as workers from both of these species are between ? and ? inch in length. These two species are hard to tell apart as they are both normally dark in color with some workers having a reddish-colored head, but unlike C. decipiens workers, C. nearcticus workers have a greater number of erect hairs on the “clypeus,” which is a broad plate located at the front of an insect’s head.

Have you ever encountered carpenter ants within your home?

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