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Carpenter Ant

Danger/Damage

Carpenter ants can enter homes and businesses via wet or damaged wood. They will also enter through cracks, holes, and gaps around windows, roof eaves, and doors, creating paths through wood causing extensive damage.

Although they do not sting, carpenter ants can inflict bites.


Did you know?

Carpenter ants get their name from their nest building, where they excavate the wood and form smooth tunnels (called galleries) inside of it. Carpenter ants do not eat wood. They only tunnel and chew through it to create nests.


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Carpenter ants in the same nest can range in size depending on their role (major and minor workers) and nest age. The worker carpenter ants are 3 7 mm to 13 mm up to 17 mm (0.25-0.5 inch) in length. The queen may be more than 20-25 mm (3/4 inch) long. Most are black but can range from red to brown.

A carpenter ant’s thorax is evenly rounded when viewed from the side, with a single node between the thorax and abdomen.


Carpenter ants build their nests outdoors in various wood sources, including tree stumps, firewood, or landscaping. They need a moist or humid environment source to survive. Carpenter ants will enter the house through wet, damaged wood.

Carpenter ants are most active at night and nest in moist wood near a moisture source such as stumps and wooden fence posts. On properties, carpenter ants often nest in hollow doors, wood cabinets, near dishwashers, behind baseboards, in basements, and attics. Normally, Carpenter ants establish a main or parent colony (nest) and construct several “satellite colonies” within the same or nearby structure(s).


Carpenter ants live in colonies that take several years to establish. Each colony has a queen who lays eggs. Worker ants guard the nest, forage for food, care for the eggs and young, and build new nests to expand.

Once the colony is established, the queen produces reproductive winged carpenter ants. Once they mate, the winged carpenter ants leave the colony and establish new colonies.

An average colony has a few thousand up to tens of thousands of carpenter ant workers.

A queen can live as long as ten years, while the male ants only live for a few weeks to several months since they die shortly after mating, and sterile female worker ants will live a few months to several years.


  1. Carpenter ants do not eat wood. They only tunnel and chew through wood to create nests.
  2. The gallery walls that carpenter ants create are smooth, with a sand-papered appearance. Active galleries are kept clean of debris.
  3. Carpenter ants have powerful jaws.
  4. Carpenter ants can inject formic acid into the bite wound, creating a burning sensation. However, this pain will subside and is not a health threat.
  5. 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.

Where am I most likely to find carpenter ants?

Carpenter ants prefer damp areas and may construct their nests anywhere in properties including walls, ceilings, attics, doors, window sills, shingles and insulation.

Are carpenter ants hazardous to humans?

Yes. Since carpenter ants can carry diseases from one area to another; and although they do not sting, they can inflict bites.

Do weather conditions affect the size of a carpenter ant infestation?

Yes. Warm, damp conditions are ideal for carpenter ant colonies to establish themselves.

How can I tell if I have a carpenter ant infestation on my property?

There are many indicators to look for. The presence of worker ants in your home is one of the first indications of a carpenter ant infestation.

Check all areas where you suspect moisture. If chewed wood, like sawdust known as “frass” is located, it is an indication of an active nest.

Flying ants in the home is also cause for concern and a professional in pest control should be consulted.

 

 
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