Carpenter Ants

In the wild, carpenter ants make their homes in dead and fallen trees; and, like termites, serve the important purpose of breaking down wood and returning needed nutrients to the forest floor and soil. Unfortunately in our neighborhoods, they don’t differentiate between dead trees and the structural lumbar and timbers that comprise our homes! Starting in the spring and until the first frosts in the fall, keep an eye out for swarming and signs of natures little wood saws.

Have you seen Carpenter Ants?

Carpenter ants make their nests both indoors and outdoors. Ant colonies consist of Workers, Males & Queens. There are several species which can live in homes; normal workers are black or black and red in color. Carpenter ants are usually larger than other types of ants. You may on occasion see winged Queens or winged Males, in addition to the worker ants which exist in much greater numbers.

carpenter ants, large, black, and wood destroying

What do Carpenter Ants Eat?

carpenter ants don't eat wood, but they chew and tunnel through it
While Carpenter Ant can be responsible for excessive amounts of wood damage as their colonies grow, they do not actually eat wood. Carpenter Ants excavate and remove wood to make their tunnels, and nesting areas called galleries. For their food, Outdoor Carpenter Ants are attracted to a sweet liquid called honeydew, produced by aphids, Indoor Carpenter Ants may feed on honey, syrup, sugars, jellies and other sweets, and may seek protein sources like meat and fish. Carpenter Ants need to forage for food, so in addition to their activity during mating season rituals, these are also the times you are likely to see ants moving about. Carpenter ants are typically more active at night, between sunset and midnight.

Why did Carpenter Ants invade your Home or Business

Carpenter Ants seek and nest near moist wood. Outdoors, this can be rotting trees and decaying wood. Indoors, Carpenter Ants may have discovered an area of your home prone to leaking, high condensation, or poor air circulation. It’s not uncommon to find ants living around tubs & sinks, showers, behind tile work, near dishwashers, under roofing, siding, in attic beams, or in insulation. Once a parent colony is established, Carpenter Ants my set up satellite nests, which do not require a location near moisture. So it’s quite possible Carpenter Ants may be living and travelling some distances to and from the moisture source.

Can I tell if I have an Indoor or Outdoor Carpenter Ant problem?

It is always best to consult an expert, as determining where a nest, or nests, exists, can be difficult. If you see Carpenter ants in your home in late winter or early spring, chances are you have an indoor nest. The spring is also a time when you may see winged Males & Queens swarming to mate. If you see large numbers of winged ants indoors during swarming, chances are you have an indoor nest. After mating, Queens lose their wings and seek other suitable nesting areas. Also, seeing ants in the winter is another good sign you have an indoor nest.

Identifying Carpenter Ants

  • Can be found year round
  • Most active spring through fall
  • Winged reproductives up to 1"
  • Associated with moisture in wood
  • Course frass (looks like sawdust) with insect fragments
carpenter ant

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Useful Carpenter Ant Links

carpenter ant
Carpenter Ant Warning Signs
carpenter ants don't eat wood, but they chew and tunnel through it
Carpenter Ants or Termites?
termite-control
Termites: ID & Biology

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