Brief overview of carpenter ants

Carpenter ants use their extremely strong mandibles to build nesting areas inside of wood. Carpenter ants that find their way inside of homes and other buildings they can cause significant and costly damages.

What do carpenter ants look like?

Carpenter ants are commonly black in color but may also be red, yellowish, or a combination of colors.  Large ants, adult workers may grow up to ½ of an inch in length and queens up to one inch.  Carpenter ants have oval shaped, segmented bodies, six legs, and antennae that is elbowed (unlike termites that have straight antennae).  Workers have large, strong mandibles that help them to excavate in wood; they are also strong enough to cause a painful pinch.  Reproductive members of carpenter ant colonies are winged ants.

Where do carpenter ants nest?

Outside, carpenter ants nest inside of trees and prefer damp, rotting or dead ones.  Inside homes and structures, it is common to find foraging carpenters in the kitchen but they may also create satellite nests in wall voids, under floors, in crawl spaces, in wood framing doors and windows, and in other areas where there is water damaged or rotting wood.

What do carpenter ants eat?

You might think carpenter ants eat wood but actually they consume other insects and honeydew (a sweet liquid that is left behind by aphids and scale insects) in their natural environment.  Inside homes, they’ll head for the protein and sugar including meat, pet food, syrup and honey.  Carpenter ants do not eat wood; they just tunnel through it to create nests.

Are carpenter ants dangerous?

When it comes to carpenter ants, the health threat is zero.  These ants can bite but they rarely do so and they do not spread disease.  Carpenter ants are definitely an annoyance when they invade kitchens and pantries and infest food plus no one likes seeing a line of ants marching across their floor.  The real threat these large ants pose is one to the structural integrity of dwellings and buildings.  Carpenter ants are wood-destroying insects and their tunneling habits will cause damage to support beams, flooring, and other building materials.  Left un-treated, an infestation of these ants could result in significant damage and costly repairs.

What is the difference between carpenter ants and termites?

termite and carpenter ant comparisonCarpenter ants and termites are often mistaken for one another.  They’re both wood destroying insects and both have winged reproductive members of their colonies that swarm but they are different pests and require completely separate treatment methods.  Differences between carpenter ants and termites include:

  • While winged reproductive members swarm from both termites and carpenter ant colonies, termite swarms are very large, numbering in the thousands.  Carpenter ant swarms are usually smaller.
  • Termites actually feed on wood while carpenter ants only create tunnels in wood.  If you have a carpenter ant infestation, you are likely to find shavings, also known as frass, on the floor below an exit point.  Termites do not leave behind shavings.  Termite workers are rarely seen out in the open while it’s common to find carpenter ants searching for the food sources mentioned above.
  • Termites create mud tubes on the outside of walls or underneath the surface of the soil that they use to travel back and forth between their nest and food source. Carpenter ants do not create mud tubes.
  • Carpenter ants look like large black ants; termites look like small, whitish, soft-bodied “ants”.
  • Carpenter ant tunnels and galleries are smooth and “neat” looking; termite tunnels and galleries are uneven and very “messy” looking.

 How do I get rid of carpenter ants?

To eliminate carpenter ants from your property, professional remediation is necessary.  The professionals at THE BUG LADY PEST CONTROL  provide carpenter ant control that includes a thorough inspection of the property and development of a treatment plan that will get rid of these large ants.  To learn more about our carpenter ant control services, please contact us.