Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ants - Carpenter Ant

Carpenter ants are among the most conspicuous of ants found in and around homes, being large and typically blackish or reddish depending on geographical location. Foraging workers have rather large mandibles with which they can bite or give a strong pinch. Workers vary greatly in size from 1/4 to about 3/4-inch long.

Carpenter ants will establish nests in a number of different locations. Outdoor sites include stumps, hollow logs, telephone poles, fence posts or other similar large pieces of wood. Wood that is moist or partially decayed is preferred by many species, especially in the northeastern United States; however cracks, crevices and other cavities may be used to start a nest in sound wood. Ants may be carried into homes in firewood or enter and establish colonies via other routes. Often ants move into a building solely to feed.
Carpenter ants excavate nest galleries in wood. These galleries somewhat resemble the work of termites but can be distinguished by their entirely clean and almost sandpapered appearance. They are frequently hollowed in moist or sound wood. Carpenter ants do not use wood for food. Carpenter ants cut galleries with the wood but will cut across to create new galleries. The Carpenter ant diet includes a great variety of both animal and plant foods. These ants will feed on other insects, living or dead, and nearly anything people eat. Aphid honeydew is particularly attractive and they have been known to protect aphids from other insects.
Foraging ants will travel 100 yards or more from the nest for food. Carpenter ants are of economic importance because of the damage they do to structures, the food they contaminate .

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