Carpenter Ants are often referred to as “big black ants” or “big black fuzzy ants” even though many species are not black. Most people think of carpenter ants as being rather large. Did you know that there are twenty-plus possible sizes for carpenter ants?
Larger ants indicate a more mature colony: one that has been located in the same area for some time. Smaller ants could be newer colonies, from satellite colonies or third generation Carpenter Ants. A large Carpenter Ant colony could also have several smaller satellite colonies.
Carpenter Ants are very common in areas that are wet or have a high water table. These pests seek out high moisture areas in and around structures. Carpenter Ants usually nest either in damp wood or close to it. Leaking windows, roofs, plumbing pipes, garages, crawl spaces, stumps, roofs and big trees are their favorite nesting grounds. Wood found to be infested with Carpenter Ants is usually also damaged by wood rot. Rot is caused by microbial or fungal organisms. These insects smooth out the wood with their chewing mouthparts and then live within these galleries. Unlike Termites, Carpenter Ants cannot digest the cellulose in wood and thus cannot cause the same level of damage which termites can cause.
The inspector will check for many of the following conditions during the inspection: leaks from the roof or gutters, improperly caulked windows and doors (including patio doors), water leaking around window AC units, fungal reservoir locations, plumbing leaks, leaking dishwashers, leaking washing machines, poorly caulked bathtubs, shower pan leaks, sink drains or poorly grouted tile showers. Other items the inspector will look for include firewood piles in or near a structure, infested railroad ties, or other decorative wood such as mulch, decks, overhanging tree limbs, etc.
The wings are somewhat pointed and only slightly longer than the length of the body. There are two sets of wings that are two different sizes. The antennae are curved. The body has three distinct components: head, thorax (mid-section), and abdomen. (The body is somewhat curvy-looking.)
Subterranean termites have the ability to adjust the depth of their colony (nest) in soil depending on temperature and moisture requirements. A colony may be 3-4 feet below grade and 18-20 feet deep in the ground. The ground serves as a protection against extreme temperatures and provides moisture. Termites reach wood or cellulose materials above ground by constructing and traveling through earthen (mud) tubes or tunnels. The mature colony consists of three castes: a) reproductive (king and queen), b) soldiers, and c) workers. It takes about 4 to 5 years for a colony to reach its maximum size and it may consist of 60,000 to 200,000 workers.
Reproductive: In spring and fall, the winged males and females emerge from their parent colonies to leave for new ones. This activity is known as swarming. Thousands of winged reproductive, which are dark brown or brownish black, leave their home. The swarmers are weak flyers and, unless aided by wind, fly only short distances. Many of them are eaten by birds, spiders, ants, and other predators. Survivors return to the ground and shed their wings. The wingless males and females pair off and hunt for a food source. They dig soil near wood, enter the chamber, and seal the opening. After mating, the queen begins laying eggs. The royal queen is known to survive up to 20 plus years.
Eggs: The fertilized female usually only deposits 6 to 20 eggs during the first six months following the swarming flight. She may lay over 60,000 eggs in her lifetime. Eggs are yellowish-white and hatch after incubating 50 to 60 days.
Workers: The first brood of newly hatched nymphs are also known as young termites. These young nymphs develop into workers. Full-grown workers are soft-bodied, wingless, blind, and appear to be creamy white. In early stages of life, they are fed predigested food by the king and queen. Once workers are able to digest cellulose, they begin working and providing nutrients for the entire colony. At this time, the king and queen cease feeding on cellulose. The workers now undertake all the labor in the colony such as obtaining food, feeding other colony or caste members. The workers excavate wood for chambers, and construct tunnels. Workers mature within a year and can live from three to 5 years.
Soldiers: Soldiers are creamy white, soft-bodied, wingless, and are blind. The head of the soldier is large and enormously elongated, brownish, hard, and equipped with two very strong jaws. Workers must feed soldiers, as they are unable of feeding themselves. They are less numerous than workers and their sole function is to defend the colony against invaders. Ants are usually the most common termite invader. Soldiers mature within a year and can live up to 5 years..
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