There are two common types of carpenter ant in B.C. The first, Camponotus modoc is a large black ant while the other is the Camponotus vicinus, a black ant with a reddish middle section. Both species vary in size, ranging in size from 4 mm to 12 mm long, and vary in colour. Two distinguishing features of the carpenter ant are that the worker ant has a bump between the middle section and the abdomen, and that the middle section is rounded when viewed on the side.
The modoc species is typically found throughout B.C. and the vicinus species is found in drier areas. The carpenter ant will chew through wood and create smooth tunnels, or galleries, which run with the grain of the wood. It does not eat the wood, and it seeks out damaged and decaying wood, and also other building materials such as foam insulation. The ant will forage for food at night along trails and through gaps in the structure. An ant colony will typically number 10,000 to 20,000, and will start swarming after 3 to 6 years.The winged female ant or queen will nest and lay eggs which will become wingless worker ants, and the worker ants will take care of foraging, tunneling and caring for the new larvae. Carpenter ants will also create satellite nests in the structure or outdoors. Indicators of carpenter ant activity in the home are: sawdust falling out of cracks and crevices in the wall, and around electrical boxes; sawdust piles and ant wings and other insect parts in attics; rustling noises in the wall; foraging trails indoors; presence of a large number of ants indoors between January and April.
Reducing moisture and rotten wood in and around the home is necessary to prevent carpenter ants from nesting the structure. Remove or repair damage to the structure, including: rotting wood, leaking roofs, blocked gutters, rotting decks, inadequate ventilation in attics and crawlspaces, leaking plumbing, soil contact with wood parts of the structure, old firewood, rotting fence posts and landscaping wood, rotting trees, vegetation touching the structure.
Carpenter ant control requires a comprehensive and integrated approach. Consult a pest control professional to arrange for an estimate.