Most of us know that ants don't prefer the winter and that they usually disappear for a few months each year here in New York state. But carpenter ants are different. They can be active all winter long. It isn't that they are winter ants, like false honeypot ants (known scientifically as Prenoplepis imparis), which prefer near-freezing temperatures and only come out when it is cold. It is more that carpenter ants are able to establish their nests in the warm wood of human dwellings.
What Is Diapause?
In nature, carpenter ants make their nests in decaying wood, places such as rotting stumps, logs, or trees. When it starts to get cold, they will seal off their colony and become dormant. This dormancy is called diapause, not hibernation. The difference between diapause and hibernation is that activity can begin again as soon as it is warm enough. Just like its name implies, it is simply a pause. Hibernation is usually a set timeframe that a creature tucks itself away every year. Since carpenter ants respond to the cold by slowing down and sealing themselves in their nests, we don't see much of them until winter has passed--unless, of course, they get into our homes.
When carpenter ants create a nest in the wood of a home, they can remain active all winter long. We humans don't like to be cold, as a general rule, and the heat we use to keep us warm radiates out through our walls where those carpenter ants are hiding. And, if it doesn't get cold enough to cause carpenter ants go to into diapause, they're going to keep creating tunnels and galleries throughout the winter months.
If you have carpenter ants inside walls that are warm, you're likely to know it. Carpenter ants often establish their nests inside a home but feed on food outside of the home. These ants have a wide selection of foods they can live on. But the cold weather will force them to look for inside food sources during the winter, and this can increase visible sightings. We say CAN because carpenter ants are mostly nocturnal insects. Activity can increase in your home without you knowing it, if these ants are feeding at night. You could go to bed and wake up the next day without ever having seen the line of carpenter ants that feed on the dog food that was left in the dog's bowl--or the cat food that was left in the cat's dish. You could miss the fact that one of your pantry packages is a little lighter than it was the day before. For this reason, it is important to call a professional if you see a few large ants crawling around your home. Don't wait till you know for sure that you have a significant infestation of carpenter ants.
Year-Round Protection Is The Best Solution
Carpenter ants don't disappear in the winter. They can be a year-round problem for any home. And, a year-round problem needs a year-round solution. Carpenter ants are also a pest threat that is ever encroaching. You can't protect your home with one-time pest control service. That is why we've put carpenter ant treatments into our year-round service. While we're protecting your New York home from over 30 common pests, we'll be making sure you have the right treatments in the right locations all year long.
Parkway PestGuard comes with 4 annual visits, identification of pest threats and pest pressures, control for over 30 common pests, interior and exterior service, and unlimited service calls. This service targets all of the zones around, and inside, your home, and makes sure you have the barrier you need to resist pests.
If you'd like to learn more about Parkway PestGuard, or our more comprehensive Parkway PestGuard+ service plans, reach out to us today. We'll help you get your winter bug barrier in place, and make sure your home is bug-free this winter--and every winter from now on. Life has enough troubles, we don't need to add carpenter ant damage. Make 2017 the last year you allow bugs to damage your home and make your family sick. We are standing by to assist you.