Carpenter ants seminar work by Uwamose martins


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Carpenter ants are social insects, with colonies made up of several different forms or “castes”. They are so-called carpenter ants because of their habit of chewing wood to create nest sites. They do not eat wood, like termites, but excavate it with their strong, saw-like jaws to create random galleries where they nest. They play ecosystem roles particularly by aiding in the decomposition of decaying tees. Carpenter ants belong to the subfamily Formicinae (Genus: Camponotus)

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Carpenter ants seminar work by Uwamose martins

  2. 2. INTRODUCTION Carpenter ants are social insects, with colonies made up of several different forms or “castes”. They are called carpenter ants because of their habit of excavating wood to create nest sites. In contrary to what many people think, carpenter ants do not actually eat wood like termites, but simply nest in it. Their economic importance as wood-destroyers exceeds that of termites in some places. They pose a major problem to humans because of this their habit of nesting in woods especially at home (Hansen and Akre 1985). Carpenter ants are large ants indigenous to many parts of the world, they are the largest of the pest ants found in the United States 2
  3. 3. Fig 2. Typical carpenter ant (worker). Source: Google images 3 Fig 1. Typical carpenter ant damage. Source: Suiter D.R., 2012
  4. 4. IDENTIFICATION Carpenter ants, genus Camponotus, belong to the subfamily Formicinae. They are two pest species of primary importance, the black carpenter ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) and the Florida carpenter ant (Camponotus floridanus). Black carpenter ants are dull black and their abdomen is covered by yellowish hairs and more common, while the Florida carpenter ant has a deep reddish-colored head and thorax and a shiny black abdomen (Figure 3). The adults (Figure 4) vary in length from about 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) for a minor worker, to 1⁄2 inch (12 mm) for a major worker, and up to 7⁄16 inch (18 mm) for winged reproductives, queens which are usually functional, wingless are 9⁄16 inch (20 mm) long. Camponotus workers are easily recognized by the thoracic dorsum, which is evenly convex when viewed from the side (Hansen and Akre. 1985). 4
  5. 5. Fig 3. The two species of Carpenter ants: A. Florida Carpenter ant (Camponotus floridanus), B. Black Carpenter ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) Source: Suiter D.R., 2012 5 A. B.
  6. 6. Fig. 4. Reproductives in a carpenter ant colony: A. winged female, B. queen without wings, C. male. Source: Hansen L.D., 2005 6
  7. 7. BIOLOGY  Carpenter ants are social insects, with colonies. They become active in the spring (March/April) and remain active through the early fall (September/October). During the winter, ants become inactive and hibernate in their nest to survive the cold.  Carpenter ants are most active at night. Unlike other pest ant species, carpenter ants create semi-permanent trails through the grass from their nest to areas where they collect food. Movement between nest sites and feeding sites is often facilitated by the use of these well-maintained, semi- permanent trails (Figure 5). In the evening, ants can be seen using these trails as they emerge from and return to their nest. Colonies may even use the same trail in different years. Carpenter ants also follow man-made guides, such as wall edges, when foraging (Figure 6).  Carpenter ants feed mainly in the tops of trees where they consume the sweet, sugar rich honeydew excreted by aphids and scale insects (in large quantities during the spring and summer months) that are found feeding on the tree’s sap. Solid food, including other insects and household scraps (sweets, meat, and pet food), makes up only a small part of their diet (Suiter D.R., 2012). 7
  8. 8. Fig. 6. Carpenter ants use well established, semi permanent trails (blue arrow) as they move between nest sites and feeding sites, and will even use the same path from one year to the next. Source: Suiter D.R., 2012 8 Figure 5. Carpenter ants may travel well over 100 feet from nest sites to feeding sites. In this figure ants could be seen traveling 120 feet along a permanent trail from the tree on the left (yellow arrow) to the tree on the right (red arrow) where they were foraging for food. Source: Suiter D.R., 2012
  9. 9. NEST HABITS  Carpenter ants live in colonies. A colony may contain a main nest and one or more “satellite nests”. The main nest contains the queen, eggs, and small larvae. A satellite nest contains pupae, mature larvae, and workers. Ants in satellite nests are the ones that normally do structural damage to homes. Carpenter ants establish their nest sites in wood suffering from moisture inside and/or outside the home because damp wood is easier for the ants to chew. Damp wood, combined with warm temperatures, also promotes the survival, growth, and reproduction of carpenter ant colonies.  Indoors, carpenter ants have been found nesting in moisture-damaged wood under bathtubs, inside dishwashers, in wall voids beneath window sills, inside hollow doors and door frames, in wood porch supports and columns, under siding and wood shingles, and in moisture-damaged eaves.  Outdoors, carpenter ants nests are most commonly found in hardwood trees containing tree holes (Figure 7). In tree holes, ants find an environment that is ecologically stable (consistent humidity and temperature) and protected from adverse environmental conditions and natural enemies. There they chew dead wood to create galleries for nest sites (Smith, 1965). 9
  10. 10. Fig. 7. Outdoors, the most common nest site of black carpenter ants is in hardwood trees containing one or more tree holes. Source: Suiter D.R., 2012 10
  11. 11. MANAGEMENT OF CARPENTER ANTS The management of carpenter ants can be categorized into the following: • Eliminating carpenter ants nest • Treating nest sites indoors • Treating nest sites outdoors • Control attempts when the nest cannot be found • Prevention 11
  12. 12. ELIMINATING CARPENTER ANTS NEST The key to eliminating carpenter ant infestations is to find the nest and remove it, either physically (e.g., by vacuum) or by treating it with an insecticide. This is often difficult but not impossible. The best indication of an infestation is the sawdust that ants excavate from their tunnels. Another indication of an infestation is sound produced by the workers as they excavate wood to enlarge the nest. This sound often can be heard through the infested wall. Another clue is the presence of foraging trails, which are easiest to locate between sunset and sunrise when the ants are most active. These foraging trails lead away from the house to foraging sites, often in trees. If a nest is present, ants will be seen moving up and down the trunk as they leave from and return to the nest with food (Figure 8). 12
  13. 13. Fig. 9. The presence of numerous carpenter ants moving up and down a tree trunk is a strong indication of colony presence. Source: Suiter D.R., 2012 13
  14. 14. TREATING NEST SITES INDOORS Insect nests can either be physically remove or treated with an insecticide labeled for ant control indoors. Insecticidal dusts and/or aerosols can be used to eliminate carpenter ant infestations indoors. Small amounts of dusts can be applied into voids where the ants are known to be nesting, or are suspected of nesting and/or in voids that they use when foraging. Dusts are airborne and as such it is advisable to wear a protective mask when applying so that they will not be contacted. Aerosol formulations may also be used when indoor ant nests are visible and accessible. 14
  15. 15. TREATING NEST SITES OUTDOORS Simply pour a water-based, liquid insecticide directly into carpenter ant nests located in tree holes. Use enough insecticide to thoroughly saturate the entire nest and all ants inside. If the nest is awkwardly positioned and difficult to reach with a liquid spray, it may be necessary to drill a small hole into the top of the suspected nest location so that the liquid insecticide can be introduced and allowed to flow downward through the nest. 15
  16. 16. CONTROL ATTEMPTS WHEN THE NEST CANNOT BE FOUND Often times the nest cannot be found or, if found, cannot be easily treated. Under these circumstances, baits are used or outside is treated with a liquid spray (perimeter treatment). Baits are an effective means of controlling ants in some cases. Indoors use liquid baits and baits contained in childproof, plastic bait stations; while outdoors uses liquid and granular baits. The baits are placed in areas where ants have been seen often next to semi-permanent trails and trees containing nests (Figure 11). Perimeter treatments are used as a means of keeping ants from entering the structure. It is done by spaying the outside walls with a water based, liquid insecticide two to three feet up and spray the ground five feet away from each wall. The application of a liquid insecticide to the trunk of each tree on which carpenter ants have been seen is a strategy which kills ants moving up and down the tree trunk. Perimeter treatments should be re-applied within a week following a heavy rain. 16
  17. 17. 17 Fig. 11. Since carpenter ants rarely deviate from their foraging trail, baits should be placed next to the trail and as close to the suspected colony location as possible. Baits should be delivered from several points sources and not scattered. Source: Suiter D.R., 2012
  18. 18. PREVENTION Unless you change the conditions that attracted the ants, control measures will not have a permanent effect. Homeowners should therefore take several measures to help prevent future problems with carpenter ants.  Since carpenter ants often nest in moisture-softened wood, prevent dampness by ensuring that water drains away from the house and by providing adequate ventilation in crawl spaces to help make the home a less desirable nesting site to ants and other pests.  Replace water-damaged wood. Keep rain gutters clean and adjust drain spouts so water flows away from the building. Install rain gutters if they do not already exist. If building a new home, avoid house designs with flat roofs, which are prone to drainage problems.  Trim tree limbs away from the structure. Foraging carpenter ants often enter structures by bridging to roofs and siding from tree branches in contact with these surfaces.  Examine firewood logs before purchasing and discard any infested ones. Store firewood off the ground, away from the house. Inspect and replace decaying landscape timbers. 18
  19. 19. CONCLUSION Because of their nesting habits carpenter ants can be persistent pests in and around homes. The key to eliminating a carpenter ant infestation is to find the nest and remove it. Look both indoors and outdoors for carpenter ant nests, and use the most appropriate control strategy to eliminate the infestation. If insecticides are used they must be used judiciously. Also, eliminate sources of excess moisture to help make the home a less desirable nesting site to ants and other pests. 19