Earlier, I had packed several items from my office and had them in the back of my car (we are moving and I am taking some personal things home). I was balancing all these things with the strawberries (do you see where this is leading?) on top.
I got to the door. As I was fumbling with the key I saw the berry box tipping. I spoke firmly, “you are not allowed to fall!”
It obeyed and stayed put as I opened the door. As I was about to set the whole mini-tower of items down, the box toppled and berries rolled all over my not very well swept floor.
OK. I was amused. I can take a cosmic joke.
I began to pick them up and saw something unfamiliar, organic and vaguely frighteneng in the corner by one side of my door jamb. I very deliberately finished the berry project. I brought them to the sink to rinse and when I finished that task returned hesitatingly to the odd formation.
I got out a flashlight and a large hand lens to have a better look. It looked like moist sawdust, but not as clean. In a fit of sqeemishness I grabbed a broom and swept it all outside. My animal-self, my intuitive knowing self knew what it was! I went to the internet and typed in “carpenter ant sign.”
I know what you’re thinking: Carptenter ant frass.
If the berries had not spilled, how long might that have sat quietly in the dark corner by the edge of my door. How much more damage would the ants have done? Now I have to figure out what I want to do to get rid of: The Queen! Oh god, I am actually plotting to overthrow The Queen!
Only one queen per colony. Queenie can, however, lay thousands of eggs in her lifetime, including what are called swarmers, some of which will go off to become queens in new colonies.
Contrary to popular belief, carpenter ants don’t eat wood. They do dig out galleries (rooms and hallways) in it. Excavated chambers are used to store eggs, larvae, and pupae.
Carpenter Ants are an important food source for woodpeckers. Pileated Woodpeckers are known for rooting out and eating entire colonies.Carpenter Ants are actually helpful, have value even because they help break down dead wood, old trees, stumps, logs. But let me hasten to add they can be a problem when they enter homes or start colonies in wooden objects, such as walls or poles. Usually ants enter wood that is already damaged, but the ants can make it worse.
So really, carpenter ants are more often a sign that you already have wood damage. They aren't the primary problem. I’ve known for years I was at risk for wood rot in this house. I will deal.
Right now I have a quart of fresh, organic, local, gorgeous strawberries to eat.