Pest control may include tackling infestations of a wide variety of crawling critters. Some of the most damaging pests in Louisiana, however, are carpenter ants, whose presence can range from annoying to structurally condemning. If this wood-destroying insect decides to establish its colony in the walls of your home, it is essential to address the problem as soon as possible.
Identifying Carpenter Ants
One of the first steps of preventing or eliminating carpenter ants is to correctly identify them. Pest control is only possible when the pest and its habits are known. Carpenter ants are the most common variety of ants found in the Baton Rouge area, and they are also the largest ant species in North America. Thus, if you can see ants crawling your home or yard, they are probably carpenter ants.
Carpenter ants come in different colors, depending on the colony. Many are black, but some are red, orange, or brown. They are noted for the small hairs around the abdomen, and for their large jaws, which aid them in chewing away wooden structures. Because they make their nests in damp and rotted wood, they are likely to be seen along the branches of trees and bushes, in tree stumps, around piles of firewood, around wooden door or window frames, along fences, near baseboards, and in the joints in walls with interior plumbing. As nocturnal insects, the ants are not as active during the day. Keep an eye out for crawlers during the evenings and mornings when you first turn on the lights.
Signs You Might Have a Carpenter Ant Nest
When dealing with pest control of carpenter ants, there are a few signs to look for if you suspect a nest in your home. These include the following:
If you live in a particularly moist area or are otherwise susceptible to the wrath of carpenter ants, you can prevent infestations with some effective Baton Rouge pest control tips, such as:
Carpenter Ant Bait
When you know you have a colony of carpenter ants in your house, pest control strategies recommend using bait to get rid of them. Bait is used as food for worker ants, who are attracted to a sugary compound laced with a chemical poison. The workers carry the bait back to the colony where other ants feed on it and die. The most effective way to distribute bait is to set it along the paths that the ants usually use for finding food. When using store-bought bait, be sure to select one that is water-resistant and targeted especially for carpenter ants. Otherwise, it might accidentally get washed away or eaten by some other critter, and your ant colony will never receive the sugary toxin.
Carpenter Ant Pesticide
Instead of bait, you may prefer to use pesticides. This can prevent ants from colonies that have inhabited your yard from entering your house. If you feel confident in your Baton Rouge pest control techniques, you may also consider using a foam, dust, or aerosol insecticide to attack an indoor nest at its source. To do this, be sure that you have properly and correctly identified the nest location and drill a few small holes in the wall at least two feet from where you see the ants entering the wall. Spray the insecticide around the holes as well as any other opening the ants are using. This should effectively wipe out the entire colony.
For those families that have children or pets at home and may prefer a less chemically toxic solution to carpenter ant extermination, there are some easy DIY methods you can also use. For natural Baton Rouge pest control, use boric acid, an affordable, natural, and relatively safe-for-humans poison, and combine it with 10 parts sugar water. Add this solution to any food you chose and set it out appropriately as bait. Boric acid can also be used as a pesticide by spraying it in or near the nest, or along the paths the ants travel. Diatomaceous earth is another natural product that is effective in pest control. DE is a sedimentary rock that insects cannot ingest, and dusting it over the nest kills off your carpenter ants.
When dealing with particularly large or aggressive infestations, consider calling a professional exterminator to get rid of the ants with strategic Baton Rouge pest control. The carpenter ant, as a wood-destroying insect, is one of the biggest threats to the stability of home. When you spot the signs, take action immediately.
You look out the window one evening. Under the light of a nearby street lamp, you observe a crowd of small, swarming insects. You then realize you are looking at a termite swarm and that you must switch off your home’s outside lights so as to not attract the termites to your house. At times, it is easy to discern when termites are a problem and when to call New Orleans termite control. However, for a number of reasons, a lot of people will occasionally confuse ants for termites and vice versa. Proper identification of ants and termites is important so that your local pest control can use the right methods to vanquish the infestation.
At first glance, ants and termites are quite similar. They’re both small insects that build and maintain colonies. Each species possesses a nearly identical caste system, with soldiers, workers and queens. In addition, ants and termites also have members of their kind that can fly. While many people are more likely to think of termites as a swarming type of insect, there are ants that have wings and are known to swarm. At times, homeowners may mistake swarming ants for termites. And finally, there are ants that may cause damage to wood that can appear to copy the damage wrought by termites
However, New Orleans termite control professionals will tell you that ways exist to differentiate ants and termites. One way is to check the appearance of a termite or an ant for certain signs. For one thing, termites are lighter in color than ants, with a white or creamy complexion. At times, a termite may appear translucent to the eye. Usually, ants come in dark colors, though this may vary due to the species of ant. And while both ants and termites have antennae, the antennae of ants are elbowed in shape, while a termite’s is straight. A professional from New Orleans ant control can also discern ants and termites by their body structures. Ants possess thin waists that connect to a body that appears sharply segmented. On the other hand, termites generally look to have the same width along their bodies.
Both ants and termites include a soldier class among their ranks. Soldier ants and termites are tasked with protecting their respective colonies from outside attack. However, while termites include male and females among their soldiers, ant soldiers are always female. Ants and termites also have their respective worker castes, but again, ant workers are all female compared to the males and females that make up the termite workers. Additionally, termite workers are numerous and make up the largest number of individual termites within a colony. By contrast, there are not many worker ants compared to the other ant castes. However, you are more likely to see worker ants than you are termite workers. Ants often roam in the open looking for food, while termites keep a low profile as they prefer to avoid light.
New Orleans termite control workers will also point out that some ants and termites are winged, which is another reason the two may be confused for one another. In fact, winged ants and termites are both referred to as alate. Winged ants and termites are also tasked with leaving their nests in the summer to start new colonies elsewhere, although flying termites will also depart their nests in the spring. However, flying ants possess two sets of wings that differ from each other in size, while a termite will have two sets of wings of the same length. Termite wings are also long, twice the length of the flyer’s body. By comparison, the wings of an art are shorter and are more proportionally sized to the ant’s body. Additionally, a subset of winged ants exist called drones, which are the only male ants to be found in an ant hierarchy. Their job is to fly off with female ants to start new colonies. Once the male ants mate with the females, the males die.
Some ants can still be mistaken for termites due to the damage some ants cause to houses. Carpenter ants, for example, are frequently misidentified as termites because their nesting activities will sometimes mimic the damage caused by termites. New Orleans termite control can tell carpenter ants from termites by verifying signs that the colony in the wood was built by carpenter ants. Carpenter ants will excavate the inside of wood to create shelters for their colonies and then take the bits of wood they have dug out and place them in neat piles at the entrance to their nests. However, even though carpenter ants can do a lot of damage, they do not actually eat wood, as wood is of no nutritional value to them. Instead, they feast on fungal materials and decay that reside on degenerating wood. They also eat sweets or other insects, including termites. Carpenter ants are identifiable by the wood they leave out of their nests. Since termites eat wood, they do not leave such residue.
New Orleans ant control workers can also identify carpenter ants by examining how the damaged wood on your property appears. If carpenter ants are the culprit, the wood will appear polished and cleaned for a smooth look inside. Conversely, if you have an infestation of subterranean termites, the inside of the wood will possess deposits of mud and soil. Carpenter ants also bore holes through the wood so that unwanted waste can be pushed out of the colony. The holes are not very large, and in fact, the wood may appear unharmed to the naked eye. A telltale sign that these holes exist is if you discover debris around the wood. This debris can consist of wooden shavings, dead insects and feces.
Homeowners are right to be concerned when they spot possible signs of termites around the house. In some cases, however, the culprit may not be a termite at all, but a type of ant. In such cases, it is important to consult the expertise of a New Orleans termite control professional to discern the type of pest infesting your home. Once the pest is properly identified, a pest control company can cleanse your home of the infestation using the appropriate chemicals and other necessary methods.
Southern Louisiana, with its warm, subtropical climate, is a favorite spot for vacationers. It is also a prime destination for insects. They thrive in the moist climate, and the topography provides many places for them to live. Like humans, insects want to be left alone to find shelter, eat food, mate, and raise young. When the worlds of humans and insects collide, though, some biting and stinging bugs will defend themselves, however reluctantly. In certain cases, you may want to consider pest control services. In southern Louisiana, it is a good idea to ask this important question: Will it bite?
In short, yes. However, mosquitoes do not actually bite. Rather, female mosquitoes insert a straw-like mouthpart through and under your skin in order to feed. Your body instantly reacts to a substance the mosquito releases just beneath your skin, and your immune system kicks into action. It sends histamine, which makes blood vessels swell, causing the characteristic bumps you see after a close encounter with a mosquito. Nearby nerves become irritated from the swollen vessels, resulting in an itching sensation.
Not likely. In general, termites feast upon wood rather than humans. Soldier termites, though, can become biting bugs if they feel they are under attack. Therefore, bites from these termites only happen when they are severely threatened. This is a case where it is best to leave these insects alone and hire professional for termite pest control.
Yes. After a tick gets on your body, it generally settles in your hair, armpit, or groin. It will get comfortable and begin to take in blood, growing larger as it feeds. The tick may gorge for days, or in some cases weeks, before releasing its hold and falling off. Once attached, ticks do not roam around, nor does one tick make multiple bites. The best way to know if you have received a bite from a tick is to search your body. Ticks are generally harmless, but they can pose a danger to those who are allergic to them. Some ticks also carry viruses that can cause debilitating illnesses.
Unlikely. Spiders are not aggressive bugs. They only bite when they are feeling threatened. In fact, they do not want to have contact with you any more than you want to with them, and they will only bite in cases of accidental contact, such as a human reaching into a nook where a spider is hiding. Most spiders’ fangs cannot penetrate human skin. More sensitive individuals could sometimes experience localized swelling, redness, and pain should a bite occur when there is inadvertent contact (during the night while sleeping, for example), but many humans would not even notice a bite.
There are more than 3,000 species of spiders throughout the United States, with only three of these considered dangerous to humans. All three of those species are found in Louisiana:
The best rule to avoid these bugs is to look before sticking your hand anywhere. Pay attention to your surroundings. One of the names says it all: recluse. These spiders want to find quiet places, and they only bite if they feel severely threatened. Leave them alone, and they are more than happy to return the favor.
Probably not. So-called stink bugs are vegetable and fruit eaters, and they usually do not bother humans. Like other insects such as termites, they only bite if they feel severely threatened.
Not likely. Cockroaches are generally not biting bugs. They may bite humans only in cases of severe food depletion, and even then they only target people who are sedentary.
Yes. Ants do bite. However, each species has its own type of “attack.” Sugar ants sometimes bite humans in defense, but their bites usually do not cause pain. Carpenter ants, however, can inflict painful bites if they are feeling threatened. Fire ants also bite, but it is their sting that has become infamous. They bite in order to grip their prey securely, then begin to sting. Fire ants can build huge mounds from which they swarm out if disturbed. They have been known to harm and even kill livestock.
No. Bees are not biting bugs but rather stinging insects. Female bees are the ones that can sting. When a honeybee stings, however, it pays the ultimate price: Its stinger becomes embedded in the human’s skin, and the bee dies. Queen bees retain their stingers and can sting multiple times, but they seldom venture out in the open and encountering one is not likely.
Bumblebees are not hostile. When a female bumblebee feels severely threatened, though, it will caution you up to three times before stinging by raising and then straightening its middle legs and displaying its stinger. If you see this, back away from the bee, and it will not bother you. If a bumblebee is driven to sting, it retains its stinger and so does not die.
No. Like bees, wasps are not biting bugs; they sting. Only the females attack humans, and their stingers do not detach, allowing them to sting multiple times during an assault. Like most insects, they become violent only to defend themselves when they feel they are in danger. They will not bite humans, but they can bite prey or objects when building a nest.
No, but some sting. For example, the large American Dagger Moth is safe enough, but its caterpillars are bristly and will give anyone who gets too close an uncomfortable sting. Generally, if in doubt, do not touch.
Insect Etiquette 101
Just like humans, insects in southern Louisiana want to feel safe while they go about their daily activities. Most biting bugs and stinging insects are not aggressive in themselves, as long as you respect their spaces and do not provoke them. In some cases, however, such as termite infestations, you may want to engage pest control professionals to prevent costly damage to your home or business. Other species, such as mosquitoes and ticks, feed on blood and will seek you out. A good rule is to leave insects alone and show consideration for their habitats, and teach children to do the same. The best way to coexist with insects is to carefully look but do not touch, and chances are they will not harm you.
If you live in Louisiana, then this may not be news to you. There is a formidable pest that lives in the south called the Rasberry crazy ant. These small creatures are a big problem and are keeping Baton Rouge pest control companies on their toes. Their erratic and unpredictable movements were the primary inspiration for the name, but there are many other disturbing yet fascinating facts about them that are just plain crazy.
What Are Rasberry Crazy Ants?
These tiny but mighty ants are growing in number to the point where they are overtaking the fire ant as the reigning king of pests. Their primary weapon to overthrow the kingdom is a protective acid sheath, which protects them from the venomous sting of the fire ants. In fact, the crazy ant is able to spray a formic acid compound on its enemies, allowing the crazy ants to dominate the battle. They rub this same chemical over their own bodies to shield themselves from attackers.
Where Do Crazy Ants Live?
As far as a geographical location, Rasberry crazy ants are native to Argentina and the southern areas of Brazil. But since 2002, they have invaded much of Texas and are continuing to spread throughout much of the Gulf state region. The heat and humidity seem to be prime breeding ground for these prolific pests, often leading to the need for intervention by a pest control company.
Former fire ant mounds are more and more frequently being taken over by their formidable opponents, not a small feat in the world of insects. In the wake of tropical storms and hurricanes, crazy ants have been seen floating en mass on the surface of floodwaters in search of a new home — alarming to Baton Rouge pest control services and fearful residents alike.
It has been observed that Rasberry crazy ants take up residence in electrical fuse boxes, old abandoned automobiles, open pipes and conduits, or any other likely opening they come across. This may sound scary and a little too close to home, and it is. In fact, they are thought by pest control authorities to be attracted to many different forms of electronics and electrical systems.
Moreover, it seems that when electrically shocked, the ants can come pouring out of electrical outlets and into the interiors of the buildings they inhabit — disturbing, to say the least. Not only do the insects in residence come running, but it seems that the alarm pheromones that are produced by a shock also attract other colonies and the assault can seem endless. Often when a home or business has received a crazy ant treatment from a pest control company, indescribable amounts of the tiny pest can be found in mounds around the perimeter of the structure.
What Do Crazy Ants Feed On?
Nothing satisfies like a good cricket dinner, but crazy ants also feed on a variety of centipedes and spiders, as well as butterflies, mites, and other arthropods at the lower end of the food chain. They eat so much that other creatures such as birds that would normally feed on the same food source are finding there is stiff competition for a good meal, while tending not to eat crazy ants themselves, preferring their more appetizing fire-ant cousins. This has the potential to wreak havoc up the food chain and is causing environmental concerns.
Pest control authorities have also observed that crazy ants prefer a carbohydrate-based diet, although they are considered omnivorous. The food of choice for crazy ants is the honeydew produced by any of twenty-two different species of insects, including certain aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs, and beetles. The ants can’t resist the honeydew, the sweet, sticky waste product left behind on stems and leaves of certain plants by these insects; in fact, the crazy ants defend the hemipterans in many cases, in return for the regular production of the sweet treat.
What Damage Can Crazy Ants Cause?
Aside from the damage to the environment and even the food chain, Baton Rouge pest control professionals consider these highly destructive insects. As discussed earlier, Rasberry crazy ants are attracted to electrical and electronic components. Even NASA has experienced damaging invasions in their electrical wiring systems and has called upon Tom Rasberry, the discoverer of this nasty little ant, for help in eradicating them. Inside the walls of residential and commercial buildings alike, they can build up, causing short circuits, clogged switches and other problems, just from the sheer number of them.
Crazy ants but have also been known to attack cattle and sting cows around their eye sockets, nostrils and even the hoof area. This has caused great distress among cattle producers, as many of these animals are damaged or killed and cannot be marketed.
These tiny creatures deliver a large dose of pain to humans as well. As with fellow insects, such as mosquitos, pathogenic organisms have been known to be transferred to humans by their sharp and painful bites. Scheduling ant treatments by professional pest control specialists can reduce these incidents.
How Do You Prevent a Crazy Ant Invasion?
Creating unfavorable living conditions is key to keeping crazy ants away in the first place. They favor humid, wet conditions and will take shelter under any bit of loose debris. Keep garbage cans away from the building and tie bags to help keep them from food sources. Treating your outdoor surfaces will help with this as well. Keep an eye on planters and do not overwater them.
Regularly remove fallen leaves, bits of bark or other yard debris. Repair leaks around faucets. Irrigate only as necessary to prevent soil from becoming a saturated haven. Crazy ants are drawn to compost pits and hay bales, as well as the engines of junked tractors and farm equipment. Report possible sightings to Baton Rouge pest control services.
Knowledge is power, as they say. Taking the steps outlined above may help prevent problems on your property. Rasberry crazy ants are resilient and often recolonize where they have found favorable living conditions. This almost always requires that a crazy ant treatment is done on a regular basis to keep these invaders at bay. Bug Ninja pest control professionals are the safest bet to keep you and not these insects the king of your castle.
Know Your Enemy for Ant Control in Louisiana
Nobody wants ants in their home—or even in their yards—in large numbers. Depending on the species, these pests can cause structural damage to your home. They can also spread disease organisms by contaminating food, not to mention give you painful bites. Bug Ninja Pest Control provides Baton Rouge pest control to keep ants and other pests away from your home and family.
When the weather begins to warm, look not to Punxsutawney Phil and his shadow, but to the ants. They are one of the first animals or insects to start moving around each year. You know it’s spring when you start seeing them, and if you’re concerned about having them in your home, it’s time for an ant treatment.
Ant species eat several different types of food. While some go for nectar and sugary substances, others will eat seeds and fungus. Seed-eaters may store seeds inside their nests, while those that eat fungus may even grow it there. Many of them eat small animals and other insects as well as dead meat; this helps maintain a healthy habitat for all. For water, ants may drink from raindrops, dew on plants and puddles. Some foods, like nectar, give them the moisture they need.
As social insects, ants live together in large groups, known as colonies. Some colonies can grow to include several million members. Many species use soil and plant material to create underground nests, which are interconnected by tunnels. Some also make their nests in mounds of soil above ground, and some make their home in trees.
All Ants Have a Job
The sex of the ant distinguishes the work it does. Like bees, ants have a queen who is in charge, and her job is to lay eggs. She lays thousands of them each year to replace workers, who typically die after a few months. Queens can live for several years, however. If the colony is very large, there may be additional queens. Males are typically smaller than females and are known as drones. His only purpose is to mate with the queen, and he dies soon after.
That leaves the majority of females responsible for building nests and tunnels and fighting off enemies. The workers will attack predators; protecting the nest is everything to them, and they will die for it. Ants have mouths and can bite; some can also sting. Many also have toxins they can spray on enemies. Predators that eat them include birds, spiders, bears, toads, beetles and other ants.
Female workers are also responsible for finding food and feeding the queen and her babies. They typically carry food and water back to the colony by swallowing and holding it in a separate stomach. When back inside, they regurgitate it for the others to eat.
When baby ants hatch from their eggs, they appear similar to larva; they do not have legs, but they do have a small head. It is at this stage that the workers begin caring for and feeding them. In summer, new queens and males, who all have wings, fly from the nest to mate and begin new colonies. When starting a new nest, queens remove their wings; other females don’t have wings.
How They Communicate
Some ant species are as small as 1/16 of an inch, while larger ones can grow to an inch. Many are black or red, but some are brown or yellow. Ants have six legs and big heads that sport compound eyes, but they have poor sight and communicate with each other by touching heads and antennae or by rubbing legs against their bodies. They can also communicate with chemicals that their bodies produce. These chemicals alert others to the location of food and, if the nest is under attack, ants can produce chemicals that act as an alarm to others so they will return and help defend the colony.
They are related to wasps and bees and have three separate body parts: the head, thorax and abdomen, with a slim connection between thorax and abdomen. They are sometimes confused with termites, but a termite is identifiable by the connection between its thorax and abdomen, which is much wider than an ant’s.
There are 12,000 species of ants throughout the world and more than 700 species in the United States. The good news is that only about 25 species invade homes. Some of them include the following:
Smaller workers typically work inside the colony. The larger ones forage for food, and it is these you see in your home; you may need ant control to get rid of them.
Treating Ant Bites
Most ants are harmless to humans, except for fire ants and carpenter ants. Although their mouths are tiny compared to any part of a human, imported red fire ants can bite and sting, and you will know it when they do. They can be very aggressive in protecting their nests and, if they sense a threat, will swarm the intruder. They bite, clamping their jaws to give themselves a stable base, then sting over and over, each one several times.
Stings result in red, swollen bumps that blister on top. They hurt, can itch and remain on the skin up to a week. Although not typically dangerous, some people may be allergic and can have dangerous, even fatal, reactions that occur soon after a sting. Watch for signs such as difficulty swallowing or breathing, nausea and dizziness. If you have any of these reactions, get medical attention right away.
Treat milder reactions by washing the area bitten with a gentle soap and water, then apply a bandage to help keep it clean and prevent infection. If the bite is painful, try applying ice or a baking-soda paste first. If needed, over-the-counter creams and antihistamines can help reduce itching and pain.
DIY Ant Prevention
One ant does not an infestation make, but when you learn their nature, you understand that where there is one, there may be more on the way. There are several things you can do to prevent ants from moving in, and they all focus on making your home less inviting. Their size means they can enter a house through the tiniest of cracks. To help limit access, you need to do a thorough job of sealing, by caulk or another method, every little hole, crack and crevice you can find. This includes caulking around doors, windows and other points of entry such as where cables run through the walls of your house.
When workers find a good source of food, they lay down a trail of pheromones, or chemicals, to lead others to the food. Humans can’t see the chemicals, but you can see the line of ants following them. Because they are always looking for food, be especially careful to maintain a clean kitchen and keep food sealed tight, especially if you store opened items in the pantry, like cereal and crackers. If you eat in other rooms of the house, clean up afterward and vacuum regularly to remove any stray bits.
If you have pets, you may leave a full bowl of food out all day and night, which is tempting to ants. Consider feeding your pets only once or twice a day and picking up the bowl in between feedings to make it less attractive to pests. If you have outdoor pets, this is a must. Another option is to mix three parts vinegar with one part water and spray it around your pets’ eating area; if you have messy pets, you’ll need to clean up any bits of food when they’re done eating as well.
Another solution is to set bait stations at possible entry points. However, you will need to maintain these stations. Bait may not be a good option if you have pets or small children, who may ingest it.
Outdoor Measures to Take
There are also some outdoor measures for Baton Rouge pest control:
The idea behind these measures is to prevent trapping moisture underground, which attracts pests to breed there.
Time To Contact Professionals
You may be able to kill a good number of ants with sprays and baits. But it’s a temporary fix unless you can locate the colony and destroy it. That includes killing the queen and all her eggs, which she lays several times a year. If they return, they may bring additional pests into your home that are looking to eat them, which only compounds your problem.
Your best option for ant control is to contact a professional company that can track and kill ants and their eggs, even in hard-to-reach areas. Let the experts at Bug Ninja Pest Control develop a plan for year-round ant treatment to rid your home of pests and prevent new infestations.
I really enjoy researching and writing about pests. The more we know about bugs, the easier it becomes to control them.