Unfortunately in New York the most common ant found in our homes also causes the most damage. Long Island has a burst of activity in the early spring and carpenter ants can be active until the first frost. Considering the damage these ants cause, it is advisable to eliminate the problem when it is discovered. Carpenter ants, providing they have the environmental conditions are difficult insects to control and can cause extensive damage to wood timbers in a fairly short period of time. Carpenter ants do not actually eat wood but excavate galleries within it to use as nesting sites. Foraging activity can occur at any time of day but usually peaks at night. When foraging inside houses, carpenter ants are attracted to sweets, meat, grease and fat.
The first step in carpenter ant control is a thorough inspection in and around the structure. Suburban inspects all areas that are conducive to carpenter ants from the ground level to the roof peak. The key to eliminating carpenter ants is locating the colony. This is often difficult as the carpenter ants usually locate their nest inside wall or ceiling voids where it is hard to inspect and treat.
Also where carpenter ants trail into a building is not always where the main colony is located. Carpenter ants sometimes form satellite colonies where they enter and exit a structure. Satellite colonies are in between the main colony and food locations or swarming locations. The ants may enter at a location and then climb through walls and rafters to where the nest is really located. After the nest or entrance ways have been determined the wall or ceiling void may be drilled and treated to eliminate the entire colony.
Perhaps the most common ant found on Long Island, most colonies are located under sidewalks, building slabs, and large rocks. Ants enter buildings through cracks in foundation walls and interior slabs. It is common to see sand piles and small soil particles in structures near cracks in concrete slabs or at the top of foundation walls where the ants deposit debris from excavated nests. Similar piles are seen in the warmer months at the cracks in sidewalks.
Pavement ants feed on a wide variety of food. Sweets, including sugar, nectar, fruits, and syrups are readily taken. Grease, dead insects, and small seeds also are collected and stored in the nest. Nearly any morsel of food that falls to the floor will be consumed. In the typical Long Island home they can be seen on counters and around the trash can. When their nest is located indoors, it can be found in a crack near a radiator or source of heat, or in the foundation.
Odorous House Ants
Another ant becoming more and more common on Long Island is the odorous house ant. Odorous house ants are not wood destroying insects, however, they can be very hard to eliminate from structures if they are misidentified. We have seen a significant increase of these ants on Long Island over the last several years.
In our homes these ants are foraging primarily for sweets and travel in both wandering patterns and set trails. Their trails commonly follow branches of trees, foundations, sidewalks, baseboards and the edges of carpets.
We have found these ants favor shallow nests in the soil under wood, stones of debris. However, they may nest in various habitats including wooded areas, beaches, wall voids, and around water pipes and heaters. Colony sizes can be as large as 10,000 workers with multiple queens.