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    CarPenter Ants

    Carpenter ants are characterized by their size, being fairly large and black in color. They are one of the most damaging species of ants, and can cause severe damage to structures if left untreated. Many people think that carpenter ants feed on wood, and that is how they do damage, but this is incorrect. They do not feed on the wood itself, but they tunnel through it. This leaves behind bits of sawdust-like particles, which are one of the telltale signs of carpenter ant infestation. The ants themselves feed on other insects, plants, and household food.

    Over time, colonies can grow and do serious structural damage to your home. A single colony can easily grow, with new satellite colonies taking hold. Moist or humid areas of the home are often the most desirable for carpenter ants. Therefore, you’ll typically find them in wooden cabinets near dishwashers, behind baseboards, in window and door frames, basements, and similar locales. One way to know it’s definitely time to take action is if you see carpenter ants with wings. That means the colony has reached maturity, and is preparing to expand and colonize new areas in your home.


    Pavement ants are some of the more common ants you may see, especially outdoors. They’re generally small black ants.

    While they don’t pose as serious a structural threat to the home as carpenter ants, they still can cause health problems, are a nuisance, and should be dealt with as soon as possible.

    Most often, they enter the home through small spaces under or around door frames, through the cracks in concrete basement slabs or cinderblocks, and other small spaces.

    They don’t feed on wood, either, but rather oils, grease, and fats – proteins, in other words. In the wild, they typically feed off other insects. They are among the most common ants responsible for home infestations in the Toronto, Ontario area.


    Citronella ants are similar in color to pharaoh ants, but much larger – sort of how carpenter ants are much larger-looking versions of common pavement ants.

    Their name derives from the strong, lemon-like scent, typical of citronella, that they give off when they are crushed or threatened.

    They range from light yellow through dark yellow and light brown in color.

    They feed off of the honeydew, or sticky, sugary substance, produced by plant-juice eating organisms such as mealybugs and aphids.

    Pharoah Ants

    Pharaoh ants are small in size, and yellowish in appearance. They’re one of the more pernicious variety of ants, and can be very hard to eliminate. They tend to nest in very inaccessible areas – typically places that are warm and moist.

    They also breed quickly, leading to colonies with several queens and many workers, numbering several hundred thousand strong.

    When you attempt to deal with pharaoh ants, they can easily spread, as small contingents are known to separate from the main nest and form new satellite colonies.

    Many home treatments or insect sprays do not kill pharaoh ants, and the infestation spreads. Therefore, it’s best to leave the elimination of pharaoh ants to trained professional exterminators.


    While any ants can be a nuisance, especially in and around the home, carpenter ants are particularly problematic. The damage they can do to the wood framing of your home can render it uninhabitable in the worst cases. The sooner they are spotted and treated, the less likely serious damage will occur. In order to identify carpenter ants, you should look for the following physical features:

    Color – carpenter ants are almost always black as their predominant color. They can have a red or yellow tint to them, and variations within those colors are common. Black, dark brown, red, lighter black, yellow, tan, orange, and light brown cover the vast majority of carpenter ant colorations.

    Size and Composition – carpenter ants have large mandibles that they use in tunneling, chewing through the wood of your home or business. Their thorax region is rounded. Their antennae are typically bent and beaded. And, most obviously, they are fairly large for ants, ranging between 3 and 13 mm (0.1 to 0.5 in) in length.

    Being able to spot and differentiate the different types of ants can help you to get a handle on what kind of infestation you have, and how serious it may be. Aside from physical examination of the ants themselves, carpenter ants in particular leave other traces of their activity. Sawdust piles and holes in wood are often a giveaway. Coupled with large, mostly black ants in the home, it’s usually a good indication of a carpenter ant infestation.

    Carpenter ants differ from termites, in that termites actually eat wood. Generally, with termites, you won’t find piles of sawdust, as the termites digest it for food. Winged, large carpenter ants are not termites, but simply mature carpenter ants that are looking to expand the colony.

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