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Carpenter Ants Removal in Kelowna & The Okanagan Valley

There are many different types of ants that can invade your home and leave you with a pest problem. Some are simply a nuisance to have around, but others can cause serious damage to your home, like carpenter ants. If you notice any ants in your home, it is best to get the problem taken care of right away by a professional. Contact The Bugman for pest control and carpenter ants removal in Penticton.


General Ant Identifying Features

The body of an ant is clearly divided into three sections: the head, the thorax, and the gaster.


Ants are social insects living in colonies comprised of one or a few queens and many workers. The queen generally stays deep and safe within a nest. Most ants that you see are workers and these are all females. Depending on species, workers may be similar in size, or come in a range of sizes. Ants tend to come in dark or earth tones. Different species are black, earth-tone reds, pale tans and basic browns.


Adult Males and Females

When ant colonies reproduce, the new queens and males may be found in the colony. These are "flying ants" and have two pairs of wings. Males generally have small heads, large eyes, large thoraces and a pair of claspers at the end of the gaster. Once they fly (and mate), males do not live very long. After mating, new queens break off their wings and never fly again. Without wings, they can generally be distinguished from workers by their larger body size, larger thorax and larger abdomen. All workers are females.


Immatures (Different Stages)

Ant larvae are white and grub like. They have no legs and don't move about much on their own. You can generally see a large, dark stomach through their cuticle. Ant pupae look like white adult ants, with their legs and antennae pressed close to their bodies. In some species, larvae spin silk and the pupal stage is inside a cocoon.


Food

Most ants eat a variety of small insects that they capture, dead insects they happen to find, nectar or honey dew. They need a balance of carbohydrates and protein. Protein is especially needed for the queen to make eggs and for the larvae to grow.


Habitat

Most ant species live in the soil. Some, like the carpenter ants, also live in wood (they excavate, but do not actually eat the wood). Some ants live in cavities made inside plants, such as acorns, twigs and galls.


Predators

A variety of reptiles or amphibians (particularly toads and lizards), spiders, other insects such as assassin bugs, and other ants may prey on workers. Bats, birds, and occasionally, people capture and kill or eat the flying males and females.


Interesting Behaviours

Since ants are social they display many behaviours that remind us of our families and society. For example, worker ants take care of larvae by feeding and washing them. Ants are able to communicate with each other. They are able to communicate, among other things, directions (to where the food is) and alarm.


Pest Ants

A few ant species are considered pests, because they live in and protect territory that we consider ours or because they want to consume resources that we need. For example, leafcutting ants compete with us for crop plants in the American tropics. Fire ants colonize damp grasslands (including lawns!) with alarming ease. Carpenter ants, adapted for living in dead wood, consider the dead wood (lumber) in houses fair game, especially if it is damp. A number of opportunistic ant species can overrun kitchens, pantries and pet food areas in search of suitable food items. Also, some ants (like their relatives the wasps and bees) have a potent sting. As with bees, some people can become hypersensitive to ant stings.


Thatching Ants

Thatching or “mound ants” get their name because they construct mounds from small sticks, grass stems, leaves and pine or fir needles. They may also nest in decayed logs. Under most circumstances, thatching ants should be considered beneficial, since they are fierce predators of other insects. However, when they occur in lawns, rockeries, picnic areas and other areas of human habitation, they can become a severe annoyance.


Thatching ants are often injurious to seedling trees or plants near their nests, and they have been known to damage the buds of apples, pears and other fruit trees in the spring. The landscape can be visually disrupted by the presence of their mounds. Physical contact with them is also displeasing, since they can bite quite hard and usually spray the area they have bitten with formic acid to produce a painful sensation which can result in a blistering of the skin if it is not washed.


An interesting phenomenon demonstrated by thatching ants, as well as other ants, is the habit of “herding” and maintaining aphid colonies on trees, shrubs and weeds. This occasionally leads to an aphid problem because, while keeping aphids for their sweet honeydew, they protect the aphids against natural control organisms such as wasps and ladybird beetles.


Be sure thatching ants are indeed a threat if you find their mounds on your property. Frequently, they do not pose a serious problem and no control is recommended.


Preferred Pesticides


Baits: Thatching ants can, on the rare occasion, be eliminated with baits containing boric acid. Often a combination of bait types works best. Repeated bait applications are usually needed to eliminate the colony.


Dusts: Thatching ant nests in buildings can usually be eliminated with boric acid, diatomaceous earth or pyrethrins. These can also be applied to cracks and crevices used by the ants as travel routes into problem areas. In addition to eliminating them in buildings, the ants should be followed to find other nests outdoors.


Other Pesticides

Thatching ant nests can also be eliminated using spot treatments of nests with residual insecticides registered for ant control. There is no need to apply residual insecticides to large areas outdoors because the entire nest surface and subterranean portion should be thoroughly treated (this is not environmentally friendly). Saturating the earth with pesticides may contaminate ground water.


Odourous House Ant

This is a very difficult ant to control because of their polymorphic behaviours, and it is highly recommended to use the services of a pest control professional.


Identifying characteristics:

  • Workers are all the same size: small, 1/8-inch long
  • Dark brown to shiny black
  • Petiole with 1 node, hidden by abdomen
  • Thorax uneven in shape when viewed from side
  • Very strong odour when crushed


Behaviour:

  • Feed on both dead and living insects, favouring aphid and scale honeydew
  • In homes, forage primarily for sweets
  • Travel in both wandering patterns and set trails
  • Trails common along branches of trees, foundations, sidewalks, baseboards and edges of carpets
  • When disturbed, become erratic with their abdomens raised in the air
  • Nest type and size
  • Live in shallow nests in soil under stones, wood or debris
  • May nest in various habitats including wooded areas, beaches, wall voids and around water pipes and heaters
  • Large colonies, with up to 10,000 workers and many queens


What to do:

  • Sponge invaders with soapy water as soon as you see them
  • Plug up ant entryways with caulk or petroleum jelly
  • Remove infested potted plants
  • Clean up food sources such as sugary spills, pet food or garbage
  • Rely on baits to control the ant colony (not carpenter ants)
  • Remove food sources by storing food in containers


Prevention:

  • Follow good sanitation practices and focus efforts on excluding ants from buildings.
  • Make your house less attractive to ants.
  • Caulk cracks and crevices around foundations that provide entry from outside.
  • Trim branches and limbs of trees and shrubs that touch the building to keep ants from gaining access via these routes.
  • Eliminate food sources inside the building or prevent access to suitable food by keeping it in ant-proof containers.
  • Clean up sugary spills.
  • Provide a dry, vegetation-free border, such as gravel or stones, around the perimeter of house foundations to discourage nest building; wood chip mulches and landscape plants provide a good nesting environment.
  • Manage honeydew-producing insects such as aphids, whiteflies, psyllids, and soft scales on plants near the house. These honeydew producers often support large colonies of ants that subsequently invade homes.
  • Remove trees that consistently host ants and are adjacent to houses.
  • Managing ants on trees and shrubs
  • When you find numerous ants on plants, they are probably attracted to ripening fruit or the sweet honeydew deposited on the plants by certain sucking insects such as aphids or soft scales.


Prevent Ant Problems

  • Manage honeydew-producing insects such as aphids and soft scales on trees and shrubs near the house. Once in trees, ants protect these pests from natural enemies, making many pest problems worse.
  • Remove trees and shrubs that consistently host ants and are adjacent to houses. Honeydew producers provide a great source of food for ants, and ant colonies may enlarge as a result and frequently invade nearby structures.
  • Band tree trunks with sticky substances such as Tanglefoot.
  • Trim branches to keep them from touching structures or plants so that ants are forced to climb up the trunk through the Tanglefoot.Protect young or sensitive trees from possible injury by wrapping the trunk with a collar of heavy paper, duct tape, or fabric tree wrap and coating this with the sticky material.
  • Check the sticky material every 1 to 2 weeks and stir with a stick to prevent it from getting clogged with debris that allows ants to cross.


Nest treatments

Indoor treatments of wall voids and indoor nest sites may be necessary; Call a pest control professional.


Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are one of the most valuable insects we have on earth. They chew up tons of wood and turn it into fine sawdust that rots and provides compost for new growth. But when they enter man-made structures, like our homes and businesses, carpenter ants are considered the most destructive common insect pest we have in Canada. A carpenter ant infestation needs to be eradicated as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the structure they inhabit. Continue reading to find out more about identifying carpenter ants, then call The Bugman for carpenter ants removal in Penticton.


Identification


Life cycle:

  • Egg
  • Larva
  • Pupa
  • Adult worker (Some future queens)


A typical carpenter ant nest will have all stages present year round.


Two common species of carpenter ants found in Canada: (There are others)

  • Modoc: all black, (legs may have a rusty red color), one queen in parent nest
  • Vicinus: black head, rusty red thorax (mid-section) and black abdomen (tail section), multiple queens in parent nest


Most carpenter ant species have other similar characteristics.


Five Sizes: Carpenter ants can be as small as one quarter inch or as large as three quarters of an inch. All sizes can be found in one nest.


Most carpenter ant species establish their initial nest in decayed wood, but, once established, the ants extend their tunneling into sound wood and can do considerable damage to a structure. These species commonly nest in standing trees (living or dead), in stumps or in logs on the forest floor. Since many houses are being built in forested areas, well-established, vigorous colonies are readily available in the immediate vicinity to attack these dwellings. This is especially true when the homeowner insists that the home be built with a minimal removal of trees.


Carpenter ants typically have a parent colony in outdoor nesting areas, such as live or dead trees, stumps, logs or decorative landscape wood. When the colony grows larger and needs room to expand satellite colonies are established. These satellite colonies often develop in nearby structures presumably because they offer warm protection.


Only the parent colony contains the queen(s), young larvae and workers, while the satellite contains the mature larvae, pupae, workers, and/or winged reproductives. Ants move back and forth from parent nest to satellite nest but just a few (less than 10%) will be visible foraging for food.


Sometimes they can be seen moving mature larvae (white and grub-like) or pupae (papery or leathery looking cocoons). Sometimes when close to the core of the colony you may find the cast off coverings of the pupae.

ants

Ants are generally active along ant trails from April to mid-October. These trails follow natural contours and lines of least resistance and also frequently cut across lawns. Traffic on these trails may be noticeable during the day, but peak traffic occurs after sunset and continues throughout the night.


The parent colony is often located in a tree, stump, stacked wood within 100 meters of the house or wood and stumps buried in the yard when the house was constructed. Decorative wood landscape ties brought in to enhance the beauty of a yard or driveway may also be the source of a parent colony. The colony does not produce reproductives (winged males and queens) until it is approximately 3 years old and contains thousands of workers. The natural food for these ants consists mainly of other insects and honeydew excretions from aphids that they often enter into a mutualistic relationship with. They are also attracted to other sweet material such as decaying fruits.


Reproductive carpenter ants (winged males and females) leave the nest as early as February if the nest is in a heated structure. Those living outside in logs and stumps will not swarm until spring is firmly established. The fertilized queens must then find wet wood to establish a new nest, and the cycle starts over again.


The new queen could live up to 25 years and lay hundreds of thousands of eggs.

In conclusion, we want you to know that we desire to partner with you to get your desired results of an ant-free home or business. Contact The Bugman for pest control and carpenter ants removal in Penticton. Live technicians are standing by to take your call.

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