In three to ten years a carpenter ant colony may contain several thousand workers, and it now is considered a "mature" colony capable of producing winged reproductives that it can afford to lose to the mating flights.
When the new queen establishes her new colony she seeks a moist environment. This is necessary for the survival of the eggs and the young larvae. She is not so proud as to ignore pre-existing cavities, and in a natural environment she may discover holes in tree trunks leading to a rotted interior, holes leading under loose bark on a fallen log, or an old stump in the soil with a rotting interior. If moisture is present in a structure she may find very suitable lodging in wall voids, crawl spaces, or other hollow places. This is all she would need to begin a new colony right there in the structure. Usually, however, carpenter ant colonies that are located in a structure are only "satellite" colonies, connected to the primary colony outside by the network of trails used by the adult worker ants.
As the immature stages of the ants move to the pupa stage a somewhat drier environment may be desirable, and this may initiate the workers of a colony to begin moving large numbers of the brood into a structure. They still prefer to find dampness, and if they need to excavate the wood themselves the damp wood is far easier to chew apart than is sound wood, although dry, sound wood will also be excavated. Within the structure now you may find small numbers of workers, pupae, some larger larvae, and sometimes the winged reproductives that are just hanging around getting in the way. You will not find small larvae or eggs in satellite colonies, so if these stages are present it is an indication that this may not be a satellite colony.
If a colony of the ants is discovered in a structure, it is likely only the tip of the iceberg. There may be over a dozen satellite colonies, all connected to and interacting with the parent colony, and if all you do is treat the satellite colony you still have not resolved the problem. The vast majority of the ants are still outside, happy and untouched, and likely to re-infest that structure. So, even if you find piles of sawdust and other debris as evidence of a carpenter ant nest in a structure, you still need to do a thorough inspection outside to determine if there is a more important source of the ants there.
Carpenter Ant Colonies & Invasions in Mesa, AZ
Usually carpenter ant control requires the help of a professional. Contact Lady Bug Pest Control Specialists for a Free Home Estimate for Termites, Eco-Friendly Pest Control, Home Seal Service, Bed Bug Eco-Heat, and Rodent Control. We perform Complete Home Inspections at no charge. Please feel free to contact Lady Bug Pest Control Specialists to answer any of your pest control questions or for a FREE Inspection. 480-833-1111.