Carpenter ant activity typically occurs in the hidden areas of your home, inside your walls, between the layers of your flooring or roofing, or hidden by insulation.
We tend see very little of what any ants do. It’s only when their activity level is so high that it crosses a visual threshold that it triggers our recognition. That is one of the reason why ants are in our homes for 3 to 5 years, on average, before being noticed by us—the activity level is just too low.
Another reason we don’t notice ants, is that most ants, don’t want to be on the inside of your living area.
Ants are predators that eat other insects. You don’t have a big bunch insects just waiting around for ants to snack on inside your home – right? Ants also eat aphid secretions. Any trees or bushes growing inside your home, full of aphids? Even the ants that come inside to forage, like Odorous House Ants, don’t really like our food, it’s just a resource they utilize, and only sparingly at that—they still prefer their outside food sources.
Carpenter ant queens have lived over 30 years under research conditions, and workers live 8 to 10. What are they doing for all those years they are inside your home?
Why making nests, of course.
In a tree or a stump, the nest make look like this. Notice how they tear apart the soft layers in between the annual rings. Carpenter ants only tear apart dead wood. Your home is made out of dead wood.
The entire center of this tree was full of carpenter ants – hundreds of thousands of carpenter ants, although not one ant was visible on or around it’s exterior.
This nest was like most carpenter ants nests I have seen in a structure: Distributed. Part of the nest was in the cripple joint you see, part extended into the walls under the window, part of it went up and over about ten feet inside the attic.
Layered wood such as multiple studs, laminated beams, and cripple joints are very attractive to carpenter ants.
However, since carpenter ants do not eat the wood they destroy, they are happy to nest in and tear apart other types of building materials—especially the solid core insulation in some types of roofing structures, faux stucco ‘Dryvit’ type wall systems, and the spray solid insulation around hot tubs.
It’s easier to tear apart, and holds moisture better.
Carpenter ants especially love tongue and groove ceilings. The will live in the gaps of the tongue and groove itself and also in the solid core insulation installed above.
In this home, it appears that they had been nesting in the connection of the tongue and groove ceiling and between the sheets of insulation. They can do extensive damage to buildings in these hidden areas – often for years, before being noticed.
This last picture is the rare instance where the ant damage was instantly visible. The powdery saw dust they kicked out was easy to identify. The ants you see are the after effect of our treatment.
Keep in mind, that the nest inside your home as spread out and complicated as it may be, is only one part of an entire interconnected colony – the main nest site is rarely ever in a home, and can be as far away as 300 yards.
I found the following link about how involved ant nests can be fascinating. Keep in mind that carpenter ants forage and nest underground in tree stumps and root systems, as well as up inside the trees. http://www.myamazingearth.com/2012/10/giant-ant-colony-excavated-you-wont-believe-what-they-build-underground/
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