Ants fascinate us: The Canadian Museum of Nature publishes a blog titled Amazing Ants: Did you know, for example, that there are over 10 trillion ants living on our planet at any given moment – and that in the tropical forests of South America, ants build colonies that are as large as houses?
Canada has over 200 species of ants, and one of these, the carpenter ant, is capable of damaging the structure of a house, should it decide to move in with several thousands of its friends.
If you occasionally notice an ant or two in your kitchen, perhaps near your compost container, it is probable that they are just visiting, however, if ants are hanging out in your abode in higher numbers, it is time to consider the possibility that they may have established a colony.
Carpenter ants 101: What you need to know
Carpenter ants are partial to decaying, moist wood: Begin your search for an ant colony in dark spaces near chimneys, sinks, and doorframes.
Carpenter ants are often found in solid foam insulation.
Carpenter ants, unlike termites, do not eat wood but drill into it, creating galleries or tunnels to serve as part of their nest, leaving minuscule piles of sawdust behind them as a calling card of sorts.
Carpenter ants leave observable slits or holes in wood: If you notice these, tap the wood with a hammer – if it sounds hollow, you may have an ant problem.
When spring arrives, with the sweet songs of birds, you may notice winged carpenter ants trying to leave a colony in your home.
Carpenter ants swarming in large numbers often indicate a colony; they may appear in a dark space, perhaps in a cupboard under a kitchen sink.
If you hear rustling within your walls, as if paper is being crumpled up, you may have located an ant colony.
If a carpenter ant crawls past by purposely, perhaps holding a piece of treasure, follow it: It may lead you to its colony.
Does your home have wooden structures that are in direct contact with earth? Carpenter ants often enter structures through the wood of porches or foundations.
Carpenter ants build satellite colonies inside, meaning that they travel back and forth from the main colony that is located outside. Ants are active at night, so keep an eye out for a trail of carpenter ants marching outside, on their way to their primary home.
Should you observe even one sign that carpenter ants may have infested your home, you should know that they do not carry infections or diseases that can harm human beings.
However, carpenter ants do cause structural damage to houses: According to Natural Resources Canada, strong beams, porch pillars, window sills, joists, studs, window casings and external trim can be damaged by a colony of carpenter ants.
Should you suspect that carpenter ants have selected your home as their home; there is no need for panic, though it is best to call in an expert who understands how to eradicate this threat in a controlled manner.