Carpenter Ant Identification
Carpenter ants are among the largest ants found in North America. The worker carpenter ants range in length from 3 mm to 13 mm in length while the queen may be more than 25 mm (1'') long. The most common color is black, but some species are red and black, solid red, or brown. Carpenter ants have a circle of tiny hairs on the tip of the abdomen and one node in the petiole. From the side, the thorax is evenly rounded.
Carpenter Ant Habitat
Outdoors, carpenter ants nest in any wood that is in close contact to a moisture source, for example, stumps, landscape ties and wooden fence posts. In buildings, they often make their nests in hollow doors, in wood cabinets near dishwashers, in damp locations behind baseboards, fireplaces, window frames, and in basements and attics. Carpenter ants usually limit the size of the colony to the area of the damp wood. Several so-called satellite colonies may, however, be constructed in the same structure.
Carpenter Ant Life Cycle
Carpenter ants are social insects, living in colonies. Within the colony, winged reproductives are not produced until the colony is established, which takes about 2 to 3 years. After mating, the winged reproductive ants leave the colony to establish new ones. Once established, an average colony contains 2,000 to 3,000 carpenter ants.
Carpenter Ant Prevention
The elimination of moist conditions by providing good ventilation and isolating wood from any direct contact with the soil will aid in carpenter ant prevention. Foods should be kept in sealed containers and areas where food is stored kept free of spillage or crumbs. Eliminate old lumber, logs and stumps from around your property and do not store firewood inside the building. In the case of new construction, only properly treated lumber should be used.
Preparation Steps for Carpenter Ant Treatment
There are many things that the client can do to help prepare their home for a successful carpenter ant treatment:
1. In areas where ants are seen and in particular the kitchen, empty bottom cupboards and the bottom of closets.
2. Dishes and food should be kept out of the way.
3. If ants are seen in the washroom, the vanity should be cleaned out.
Download the Prep Sheet for Carpenter Ant (PDF)
Carpenter Ants - Questions and Answers
Where am I most likely to find carpenter ants?
Carpenter ants prefer moist areas and may construct their nests anywhere in the home including walls, ceilings, attics, doors, sills, shingles and insulation. Carpenter ants are most active during the night when they forage for food.
Are carpenter ants hazardous to humans?
Yes. Since carpenter ants are attracted to foods such as honey, jelly, fruit and meat, they can carry disease germs from one area to another. Although they do not sting, they can inflict bites.
Do weather conditions affect the size of a carpenter ant infestation?
Yes. Warm, moist weather presents ideal conditions for carpenter ant colonies to establish themselves.
How can I tell if I have a carpenter ant infestation on my property?
The presence of worker ants in your home is one of the first indications of an establishing carpenter ant colony. Check all areas where you suspect moisture. The presence of chewed wood similar to sawdust is an indication of an active nest. Any flying insect in the home is cause for concern and a professional in pest control should be consulted.