Carpenter Ant

Appearance: Among the largest of ants, 1/4- to 3/8-inch long. Color varies depending on species, from red to black or a combination. The most common species is black.

Habitat
Carpenter ants get their name because they excavate wood in order to build their nests, leaving hollowed-out tunnels. These colonies require a constant source of water to survive, and are often found in wet, decayed wood such as dead limbs and tree stumps.

Inside, they can be found in wet, poorly ventilated spaces such as crawl spaces or attics. While carpenter ants don't eat wood, their excavations pose a property threat, making ant control imperative. In the spring, winged reproductive ants called swarmers fly out to start new colonies.

Colonies can contain up to 50,000 workers.

Diet
Will feed on nearly anything people eat, particularly sweets and meats. The favorite food of adult carpenter ants is the sweet "honeydew" produced by plant-feeding insects, such as aphids, scales, and mealybugs. Carpenter ants also feed on other insects.

Control
Successful carpenter ant control depends on eliminating the parent colony, which is usually located outdoors. Finding and treating as many nests (satellite colonies) as possible is the key to carpenter ant control.

Store firewood away from your house, trim dead limbs from trees, and remove stumps and lumber from around the house. A frequently overlooked ant control measure is to make sure that all plumbing or roof leaks are sealed.





Old House Borers

Appearance: Long, thin antennae that are often as long (or longer) than the body of the beetle; 5/8- to 1-inch in length. The beetle's body has a slightly flattened appearance, and its color may appear dark gray, but is usually brownish black to black. It is not often that a homeowner or pest control operator actually finds adult old house borers in a structure; the sound of the larvae feeding, exit holes and frass are the signs that usually point to an infestation.

Habitat
The adult Old House Borer beetles emerge mainly during July and August. They mate, then the female deposits her eggs in the natural cracks and crevices of the bark of felled logs and in wood stored in lumberyards. Subsequently, infested timber may be used in newly constructed buildings. In wood, the larval stage may last from three to fifteen years.

Diet
Old House Borers feed only in pine, spruce, and other coniferous woods.

Control
In managing Old House Borer infestations, single pieces of lumber, furniture and the structure itself are treated in a similar manner as treating for powderpost beetles. Unpainted wood should be treated with borates. Surface treatments of borates may not always penetrate deep enough to kill all existing beetle larvae, meaning that new exit holes may still appear after application; however, the borates will prevent re-infestation. In cases of severe beetle infestation, a professional may be called on to fumigate the structure.





Powderpost Beetle

Appearance: Reddish brown, with long, narrow, flat bodies; 1/8- to 1/4-inch.

Habitat
Powderpost beetles live in hardwood floors, timbers, crates, antique furniture and other objects made from hardwoods. They lay their eggs in cracks in the wood and the larvae tunnel into the surface, filling it with a very fine powder-like dust. Powderpost beetles are considered by some experts to be second only to termites in the United States in their destructiveness to wood and wood products.

Diet
Hardwoods found in floors, timbers, furniture and other objects.

Control
Vigilant inspection of wood sources in your home is key to preventing powderpost beetles. At the earliest signs of damage, call a pest management professional, who can determine which control measures are necessary.





Subterranean Termite


Appearance: While all termites have long narrow bodies, they vary greatly in appearance depending on the termite's role in the colony. Subterranean termite workers are pale cream-colored and 1/8-inch long; soldiers have elongated heads with pincer-like mandibles; and primary reproductives (commonly called "swarmers" and the termites most often seen in the open) are dark brown or black and 1 inch long, with large whitish wings.

Habitat
Subterranean termites live underground and build protective mud tunnels above ground to search for food. They will die if exposed to open air for prolonged periods. Attracted to moisture (downspouts, leaky hoses, etc.), they will enter a building anywhere there is direct soil to structure contact. Colonies contain up to 2 million members, organized into castes depending on tasks- workers, soldiers and reproductives. Subterranean termites swarm in the spring, when groups of reproductive termites go off to start new colonies.

Diet
Like other termite species, they feed on products containing cellulose. Unlike other wood-destroying insects, termites actually eat the wood.

Control
Subterranean termites are by far the most destructive species. They can collapse a building entirely, causing financial ruin for the owner. To help prevent termite infestations, eliminate wood contact with soil. Make sure at least four inches of foundation can be seen all around the home. Avoid water accumulation near your home's foundation. Divert water away with properly functioning gutters, downspouts and splash blocks. Fix all roof and plumbing leaks as soon as possible.

Options for controlling existing infestations include placing liquid pesticides in the soil around your home, or above-ground bait stations.