Carpenter Ants in House During Winter

What Does a Carpenter Ant Look Like

Carpenter ants vs Termites 

Carpenter ants and termites seem very similar sometimes. It is actually very hard to tell the difference between one and the other. Both have antennae, both have a large thorax. Both of them are back or brown in colour and both can have wings. There are major differences of course but it’s hard to see when you spot them crawling around your home. Especially when you are in a panic that they are destroying your home. The specific differences like how carpenter ants have bent or elbowed antennae versus how termites have straight ones are not easy to see with the naked eye. 

The Difference 

Carpenter ants look like ants where as termites look more like a cockroach. Termites are often bright in colour like orange, yellow and brown where as carpenter ants are almost always dark brown or solid black. The big difference is that termites will eat the wood of your home, never needing other food while carpenter ants simply burrow through it to make a nest. Carpenter ants will eat your food so if you see them crying for food around you can be assured they are not termites. 

Carpenter ant life cycle

Carpenter ants start with a queen. The queen is a larger-winged ant that generally stays in the nest once it is built and never actually leaves it. Once she has her workers she retreats to the core of the nest and makes babies while workers bring her food. When the end of the year approaches she will produce sexualized males and females who will mate in a sexualized dance. The males will die and the females will leave the nest to make their own nests. 

Termites vary in colour and can also grow wings. because of their pincers which look like carpenter ant mandibles, it can be very hard to tell the difference. Getting a pest control technician to do an inspection will resolve the confusion and help you understand what you are up against.

The Queen

Unlike wasps and other ants and insects, this does not mean the end of the queen’s journey. Carpenter ant queens can live up to twenty-five years and will make new queens yearly while producing hundreds of thousands of workers over their lives. This can mean that you could end up with multiple nests in your home and on your property if you do not get it treated your home could end up being more carpenter ant than it is a home. 

Carpenter ant treatment 

You can treat carpenter ants domestically but the treatment is limited as there s no way for you to treat the nest directly. You will be limited to domestic, low-poison content pesticides, insecticide dust and bait you can either make or buy from a store. Either way, it’s not effective and will not work well. 

Commercial ant treatment

A commercial treatment is much more effective. The technician can prevent the ants from coming into the house in the first place as the nest usually starts on the outside. They can do exterior weather-permitting spray which cannot be done in heavy rain or high winds due to the danger posed by the pesticides to the environment. They will spray the base of the house and around doors and windows. They will then do a baseboard spray on the inside and lay down commercial-grade bait. If they can locate the nest they can do something called an ultra-light volume mist that can penetrate areas of deep harbourage like behind walls. This is how they access the nest and kill it from the inside.