Carpenter Ants

Camponotus species
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Carpenter Ant Infestation Signs

Pest Stats

Color

Usually red, black or a combination

Legs

6

Shape

Segmented; oval

Size

5/8"

Antennae

Yes

Region

Throughout U.S., most common in the North

What Do Carpenter Ants Look Like?

Carpenter ants vary in size and can be anywhere from ½” to ⅝” long. While black carpenter ants are common, these pests may be a combination of black and red, or completely black, red or brown.

How Can You Tell If Carpenter Ants Are Living in the House?

The first appearance of winged males in a home often causes homeowners great concern, as it signifies that ants are living inside the house. Otherwise, the presence of a carpenter ant nest indoors is sometimes indicated by a rustling sound that will come from wall voids or from wood where the nest is located when the winged forms are disturbed. 

What are the Signs of a Carpenter Ant Infestation?

The only external sign of an infestation other than the presence of workers and/or swarmers are small openings on the surface of wood. Through these openings, the ants expel debris, which consists of sawdust-like shavings and/or fragments of insulation and/or insect body parts. The accumulation of this debris below the holes is a good indication of an active infestation. The gallery walls that carpenter ants create are smooth, with a sand-papered appearance. Active galleries are kept clean of debris.

The accumulation of this debris below the holes is a good indication of an active infestation and one way to locate the nest. The gallery walls they create are smooth, with a sand-papered appearance. Active galleries are kept clean of debris.

 

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

How Do You Prevent Carpenter Ants?

Carpenter ants require a water source to survive. They also like to build nests in stacks of wood and sometimes use branches to get into the home. Some ways to prevent brown, red or black carpenter ants in the house includes:

  • Eliminate sources of moisture or standing water.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house.
  • Seal all cracks or little openings around the bottom of doors or around windows with a silicone-based caulk.
  • Keep firewood and building materials stored away from the home.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

If an infestation is suspected and you need to know how to get rid of carpenter ants, it’s always best to contact a licensed pest control professional who can assess the situation and recommend a method of carpenter ant extermination.

Do Carpenter Ants Bite?

Carpenter ants can bite and have powerful jaws, so their bites can be painful. They may also inject formic acid into the bite wound, creating a burning sensation. However, this pain will subside and does not pose a significant health threat.

 

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Find a Carpenter Ant Exterminator

How Do Carpenter Ants Mate?

Carpenter ants will begin mating flights in a process called swarming. Winged males are typically the first to emerge when environmental conditions like temperature and extended daylight signify that it’s time to swarm. If conditions are right, the male releases a pheromone that stimulates the female to leave her nest.  

What Do Carpenter Ants Eat?

Carpenter ants feed primarily on insect honeydew, plant and fruit juices, insects and other arthropods. Inside, they will also feed on sweets, eggs, meats, cakes and grease. The workers will forage up to 300 feet from their nest. Although some workers are active during the day, most activity occurs from shortly before dusk until dawn. 

How Big Are Carpenter Ant Colonies?

The western black carpenter ant colony, when mature, contains about 10-20,000 workers, with large colonies of more than 50,000 individuals. There is usually only one functional, wingless queen per colony. Swarmers are not produced until the colony is more than two years old. They are produced in the previous year and held over the winter in the nest for release the following year. Swarmers appear from May until August in the eastern United States and from February through June in the west. 

 

How Do You Find a Carpenter Ant Exterminator?

Not only are these big ants an annoyance, but they can also cause serious damage to your home. If you’re concerned about an infestation, the best course of action is to hire a licensed pest control professional who can help locate the nest and create a plan to keep these pests out of your home. This link is an easy way to find a quality exterminator near you. 

What Kind of Wood Do Carpenter Ants Attack?

Most species of carpenter ants attack wood that is or has been wet and damaged by mold. They prefer to attack wood softened by fungus, which is often associated with moisture problems, so homeowners should keep an eye out for excess moisture and soft, rotting wood around the home. Even though they first invade wet, decayed wood, they may later begin excavating tunnels through dry, undamaged wood.

How Do Carpenter Ants Enter Buildings?

Carpenter Ants usually come into buildings through cracks around doors, windows, or through plumbing and electrical penetrations in the home. They will also crawl along overhead wires, shrubs, or tree limbs outdoors that touch the building above ground, then enter the home through any small opening.

Where Do Carpenter Ants Build Their Nests?

Carpenter ants build their nests outdoors in various wood sources. This can include:  

  • Tree stumps 
  • Rotting fence posts 
  • Old firewood 
  • Under stones 

The parent colony, or main colony, is typically located outside and contains the queen, eggs and young. Satellite nests can occur and branch out from the main parent colony, and they only contain workers, mature larvae, and pupae. Satellite nests are formed in mid-summer both indoors and outdoors and do not form until the parent colony matures over several years. Usually around August, the workers and winged ants will emerge from the pupae.