Several ant species are common pests of homes and buildings in New York state including Pharaoh ants, pavement ants and odorous house ants. The ants commonly known as carpenter ants are easily the most common home-infesting ants in the entire northeast. According to a recent nationwide survey of pest control professionals, carpenter ants were the most commonly managed ants in homes during 2016. Carpenter ants are notable for being relatively large in size, as workers range between ¼ to ½ of an inch in length. The two carpenter ant species that infest homes in New York are red carpenter ants and black carpenter ants. Just as their common names make clear, the black carpenter ant is jet black, and the red carpenter ant is rusty red or brownish-red in color. Carpenter ants get their name from their habit of nesting within wood including structural wood within homes. Carpenter ants are well known for the damage they sometimes infict to finished wood, but luckily, most infestations don’t involve damaged structural wood.
In the natural environment, carpenter ants nest within moist and decayed wood sources, such as fallen branches, logs, stumps and the dead portions of trees. The black carpenter is responsible for the vast majority of carpenter ant infestations in the eastern US, and they often invade homes in search of sweet-tasting and fatty foods. Carpenter ant workers regularly leave the parent nest in order to establish additional satellite nests within natural wood sources. When carpenter ants are spotted indoors, they are most likely seeking food and/or water from an outside nest, but workers sometimes establish satellite nests within finished wood in homes. However, since only workers establish satellite nests, they are free to nest within dry wood sources that lack the moisture that the queen and eggs require for nourishment. When carpenter ants do establish a nest/s within indoor structural wood, they almost always do so within wall voids, but in most infestation cases, workers avoid the laborious task of excavating nests in structural wood, especially since structural wood is usually dry, and therefore, more difficult to excavate. Although carpenter ants often nest within wall voids, they do not need to go the extra mile to nest within structural wood, as the dark and humid conditions within wall voids are already ideal for the purpose of nesting.
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