Carpenter ants produce large numbers of queens and males during late summer. They emerge from nests the following spring for their nuptial flights. Workers may become active during winter if the nest receives sufficient warmth from sunlight, mild outdoor temperatures, or from indoor heat. |
The life cycle of carpenter ants begins with the nuptial flight, which usually occurs in the late spring or early summer, depending on environmental factors. During this mating flight, male winged carpenter ants, or swarmers, mate with winged females. Soon after mating, the female sheds her wings and the males die.
It is common to find carpenter ants in homes during spring. It is important to try to determine whether the ants are coming from an outdoor or an indoor nest, although this can be difficult. Their presence is not sufficient evidence to conclude that there is a nest in your home. You may be able to make a more accurate determination based on when you first see carpenter ants. If you find carpenter ants in your home during late winter or early spring, that suggests the ants are coming from a nest in the building. However, if you see activity later in the year, it is less clear if the nest is in the building. You may also see carpenter ant swarms during spring.fter mating, queens search for suitable sites to begin new nests. Once they land, their wings break off and each queen attempts to construct a new nest.
When carpenter ant nests are indoors, mating swarms become trapped inside. Finding large numbers of winged ants indoors is a sure sign that an indoor nest exists and may give the approximate location of the colony.
In almost all cases, carpenter ants seen indoors during winter are an indication that there is an inside nest. One exception is when ants are brought indoors in firewood. Workers from firewood are not able to start nests in homes, nor do they damage wood structures in buildings.
It is not clear whether just a few workers break dormancy or the entire nest becomes active. When ants are active during winter they will forage at night, searching for moisture. It is common for a home dweller to enter a room early in the morning, turn on the lights, and see ants scurrying for cover. Common places to sight them are cabinets, sinks, dishwashers, rolled-up towels, bathroom tubs, sink and toilet areas, or other places where moisture is abundant. On a bright sunny day, ants may be seen walking randomly through different areas of the house.
It is also possible for a carpenter ant nest to exist in a house during winter but not be noticed. If the nest exists at a site that does not receive sufficient indoor heat or sunshine, e.g. a north-facing outside wall, the ants will remain dormant until spring.
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