If only this were the case when the real thing comes to your house (although we might be out of a job)! Carpenter ants are a fact of life in New England, and can do a real number on your home, both inside and out. But they’re just one variety of several types of ants you’re likely to encounter – do you know the differences, and what to look for? Here’s a basic rundown of the most common types of ants you could run into in your home:
Pavement Ants – Pavement ants are part of a larger category we call sugar ants. They are black in color, varying in size from about 1/8” to 1/6” long. They live under slabs of concrete or asphalt, and tend to form a feeding trail from a food source to home and back. Once they find food (usually protein- or sugar-based, depending on what the queen dictates), they communicate this to one another through pheromones.
Little Black Ants – Joining pavement ants in the sugar ant family, little black ants also carry the hallmark of a feeding trail between food source and home. They’re about 1/16” (so, yeah, they’re tiny) and live in moist areas like underneath rotting trees, leaves, or piles of lumber. They’re omnivorous, feasting on meat, grease, rotting fruits and vegetables (think garbage cans and compost piles), as well as plant secretions and honeydew. They live in large colonies that are tough to eradicate without a professional treatment plan.
Citronella Ants – These amber-colored ants fall into two general categories, large and small; large are the ones most commonly found in the Northeast. Their name comes from the citronella-like smell they emit when they feel threatened. Citronella ants most typically live outside underneath woodpiles and concrete slabs, or against a foundation. They don’t normally forage for food inside your home, like other ant varieties, and first appear as winged swarmers, which often gets them confused for termites.
Carpenter Ants – These are the type to do your home the most damage, as they excavate living quarters out of your house’s wooden infrastructure. The myth is that they actually eat the wood; rather, carpenter ants chew it and spit it out, eating basically any food that humans eat. They’re one of the largest ants in the species, averaging about 1/3 to 1/2 “ long.
They’re not all the same size, and, depending on the time of year, you’ll see them with wings. Carpenter ants like to build colonies or nests in moist wood – like under a doorway or window that has been insufficiently flashed, or in rotting fence posts. In the case of these types of ants, prevention is absolutely key to protecting your home from major damage. Having regular periodic inspections for vulnerable soft spots around your home will go a long way in ensuring against infestation.
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