Swarmers have wings, while worker ants are without wings.
During warm weather and wet conditions, carpenter ants like to make house calls—and when these unwelcome pests decide to move in, homeowners often have a very tough time getting rid of them.
“One of the main issues with treating carpenter ants is locating and destroying the nest, which can be challenging even for a professional to do, let alone a homeowner,” says James P. McHale Jr., CEO of JP McHale Pest Management, Inc. based in Buchanan, N.Y.
Spring and summer mark the reproductive season for carpenter ants, some of which grow to a half-inch in length. Working mostly at night, they love to carve tunnels through “moist wood” (greater than 18 percent moisture content) and lay their eggs in freshly hewn nests, leaving behind “frass” that looks similar to sawdust. Other popular nesting sites range from insulation to wall voids.
McHale, a Cornell-educated entomologist whose work takes him throughout New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, recommends several steps to prevent carpenter ant infestation. But if you should start hearing rustling sounds and seeing wood shavings around your home, he also has advice for treating the situation before structural damage develops.
5 Tips to Prevent Carpenter Ant Infestation
1. Prune trees so that branches don’t make contact with the house. Trim away dead limbs and remove stumps in order to rid your yard of potential nesting sites. Keep vegetation overgrowth and leaf clutter away from the house. (It doesn’t help that some carpenter ants, known as “swarmers,” even have wings.)
2. Keep firewood elevated and away from your home. Remove any dead wood or wood scraps from around your home’s foundation.
3. Treat any leaks or other moisture issues. Seal all plumbing or roof leaks and unclog rain gutters. Also, dry up any moisture surrounding water sources inside the home (dishwasher, sink, bathroom tiles, etc.)
4. Tightly seal garage door entry points and any cracks around pipes or electric lines that enter the house.
5. Cut off the food supply. Carpenter ants are partial to sweets, eggs, meats, and grease, so make sure these items aren’t readily accessible.
Steps to Carpenter Ant Treatment
If you’re concerned that carpenter ant infestation has occurred in your home, McHale emphasizes that you should schedule an inspection by a pest management expert.
“Our goal is to identify and isolate where nesting has occurred and then safely eliminate those sites,” McHale explains. “A lot of times, homeowners purchase products without understanding what kinds of toxics they might be releasing in their homes and whether or not they’re really doing any good. As a pest control company with experienced, licensed technicians, we are trained in the application of insecticides and can get right to the heart of a situation.”
Along with utilizing the safest and most effective eco-friendly strategies available, JP McHale technicians also cater their programs to each homeowner’s specific needs. “We identify all pest pressures and threats, come up with a treatment plan, and then follow-up,” McHale says. “We keep coming back until the pest issue is completely eliminated.”
J.P. McHale Pest Management, Inc. has been in the urban pest and green industry for more than 30 years.
J.P. McHale Pest Management, Inc.
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