Carpenter ants are wood-destroying insects that have no useful purpose in the ecosystem. Their normal habitat is living outside in trees, but when environmental conditions are unsuitable, they move into homes and other structures.
Even though they don’t eat wood like termites, carpenter ants still damage homes by tearing out wood to construct nests where they raise their young. As the colony increases in size, carpenter ants destroy larger areas in your home and begin putting off reproductives or swarmers. These reproductives start new colonies so, over time, your home can have many colonies of ants. They can be very destructive and the resulting damage very expensive to repair.
Carpenter ants are hard to detect because they are nocturnal, thereby foraging for food at night. Debris in a windowsill, around a doorjamb, on baseboards or in the attic that returns when cleaned up is often the first sign of an infestation. The damage they cause to your home’s structure is seldom detected until the galleries formed in the wood to make nests collect moisture causing the wood to rot. Exterminating these insects from your home can be very difficult. Like most ants, carpenter ants don’t have digestive systems so they can’t eat solid food. Therefore, food must be carried back to the colonies where it is fed to mature larvae (an intermediate stage). These larvae digest the food and regurgitate it to feed the colonies making slow-acting baits, which normally take 14-21 days to start affecting the colonies, the preferred treatment. Baits can be in a liquid, gel, granular, or powder form but the colonies must be located for proper placement. The hope is to not only kill the workers but also to kill off the queens.
Carpenter ants are very sensitive to any pesticides placed in their environment and when these products are detected they move to other areas of your home where they tear out more wood. Many bait products that you buy over the counter will kill the ants too fast so you only kill a small portion of the colonies and the rest will no longer take the bait, so it’s very important to contact a professional exterminator when your suspect you might have a problem with carpenter ants. Researchers have spent many hours producing baits with tiny amounts of toxins that carpenter ants can’t detect. These slow-acting baits can eliminate entire colonies. By the time they realize the baits are killing them, the entire colony, including the queen, has been contaminated and will die.