Ant vs. Termite
There is much confusion about winged ants. Carpenter ants, as well as other ants, have a stage of development known as the reproductive or swarming stage. Flying ant reproductive s are often confused with winged termite reproductive s.
As a simple rule of thumb: if the body of the insect looks just like an ant with wings, it’s a flying ant, not a termite. Here is a comparison:
Ants are defined by having three distinct body segments (head, thorax, abdomen), elbowed antennae and clear, pointed wings that are slightly longer than the insect’s body.
Termites have two distinct body segments (head & thorax), straight antennae and translucent, paddle shaped wings that are twice as long as the body of the insect.
Carpenter ants are very common in areas that have a high water table. They seek out high moisture areas in and around structures. Though not always the case, when carpenter ants are found in a structure, they are there because of a moisture problem somewhere inside or adjacent to it.
Carpenter ants usually nest either in damp wood or close to it. They may also be found in hollow areas such as hollow doors and curtain rods. Ants will nest in attics near clogged gutters or areas that have been subject to water leaks.
Wood found to be infested with Carpenter ants often has been damaged by wood rot. Wood rot is caused by fungus, a living organism. Wood rot destroys the structural soundness of wood. These ants compound the problem by chewing into and nesting inside the wood.
Ants living in the wood smooth it out with their chewing mouth parts and then live within the galleries they create to take advantage of the high moisture content that they favor. Unlike termites, carpenter ants cannot digest the cellulose in wood and thus do not destroy the wood in the same way as termites.
Some things to check for when there is a carpenter ant infestation include:
leaks from the roof or gutters or downspouts
improperly caulked windows and doors (including patio doors)
water entering around window air conditioner frames
steady or intermittent plumbing leaks
leaking dishwashers or washing machines
improperly caulked bathtubs, showers, sinks or improperly grouted tile showers.
firewood stored in or near a structure
rotted railroad ties, decks or fences
overhanging tree limbs, etc..
This list is not complete, but provides the most common things to check to help minimize attracting ant to a structure.
New Technology Points to Baiting
As with cockroaches, baiting for ants has become a very popular. There are a number of reasons. First, baits are much less toxic than sprays and relatively small amounts of product are needed to for the treatment. Next, baiting can eliminate ant colonies while sprays simply kill individual workers. Ant colony are likely to produce more workers to replace the others which means that spraying for ants becomes a quarterly requirement. Finally, baits are usually less objectionable because they are either odorless or have very little odor.