Pest Facts: Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants get their name because they excavate wood in order to build their nests. Their excavation results in smooth tunnels inside the wood (formicarium). Carpenter ants range in size from one-quarter inch for a worker ant to up to three-quarters inch for a queen.
- Color: Varies depending on species, from red to black or a combination. The two most common species are black.
- Legs: Six
- Shape: Segmented; oval
- Size: 5/8 inches
- Antennae: Yes
- Flying: Winged swarmers
- Region: Contiguous states
All species mainly attack wood that is or has been wet and damaged by mold. Even though these ants first invade wet, decayed wood, they may soon begin building paths through dry, undamaged wood. They usually come into buildings through cracks around doors, windows, or through holes for wires. They will also crawl along overhead wires, shrubs, or tree limbs that touch the building far above the ground.
Carpenter ants build their nests outdoors in various wood sources, including tree stumps, firewood or landscaping. They need a constant water source to survive. They will enter homes through wet, damaged wood.
Carpenter ants damage wood through their nest building. If they gain entry to a structure, they pose a property threat. They can convey a painful bite with pronounced mandibles and injection of formic acid into the wound.
Because carpenter ants require a water source, eliminate sources of moisture or standing water. Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home. Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home. Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.
*Resource credit: Courtesy of the National Pest Management Association*