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Carpenter ant facts

A trusty hammer comes in handy when it's needed to do some fixing up around the house. It and a little duct tape are the solution for just about anything! 

There is one household problem, however, that can’t be solved with a swing of the hammer and a strip of duct tape – carpenter ants. 

Carpenter ants are often confused with termites because both have a fondness for wood – usually the wood in your house! However, there is a big difference between the two insects; termites will actually eat the wood in your house while carpenter ants won’t feed on your home’s wood they will move in and live there. 

There are two different kinds of carpenter ants. One has a reddish-brown head but features a black midsection. The other species is known as the black carpenter ant and they have a relatively uniform dark brown and black body. 

If you believe that your home has a problem with carpenter ants, contact the experts at Western Exterminator and get a resolution fast.

What do carpenter ants look like?

  • As one of the largest ant species in the United States, carpenter ants range from 1/4-3/4" in length.

  • Carpenter ants vary in color, but are usually black or dark-bodied.

  • There are three general carpenter ant size classes, each with a different job classification. The major workers are the largest ants in a colony. Intermediate carpenter ants are mid-sized ants and minors are the smallest. Intermediates and minor ants gather most of the food and construct the colony.

Types of carpenter ants


Carpenter ant swarmers

Carpenter ant swarmers are winged ants that leave the colonies to mate and start their own colonies. At about 3/4" in length, these ants are larger than the average carpenter ant. Seeing carpenter ant swarmers may indicate a nearby colony. 


Carpenter ant workers

Most carpenter ants in the colony are workers. Worker carpenter ants can be anywhere from 1/4-1/2 inch in length. They have a number of duties, including providing food to the queen and larvae and defending the nest. 

Where do carpenter ants live?

Carpenter ants live in nests. Within each colony, there may be multiple nests - parent nests and satellite nests. Parent nests are home to the ant queen and the eggs and are usually found outdoors. Satellite nests house the worker ants, and may be found indoors or outdoors.

Initial nests are often building in decaying wood because it is weak. Indoor nesting spots can be found in voids of walls and insulation. Oudoor nests may be found in stumps, firewood, and rotting fence posts.

Piles of what appears to be sawdust may signify a carpenter ant nest somewhere in that area. If there are one more more carpenter ant nests inside your premises, get them treated as soon as possible. Left untreated, carpenter ants can weaken wooden structures and compromise the safety of your property. 

How do carpenter ants get into the home?

Carpenter ants can access your home through doors, windows, pipes, utility wires and by overgrown tree or shrub branches that provide an easy pathway to your house. Keep in mind that in many instances an interior nest is just a satellite of the main colony that is located outside.

And with mature colonies having upwards of 100,000 members, carpenter ants can pose a real threat to the structural integrity of your home as they hollow out their nests.

When do carpenter ants come out?

When spring arrives in the West, it is time to keep an eye out for swarming carpenter ants. It is possible to see them both inside and outside your home, as they forage for food including sweets, grease, meat and eggs.

Carpenter ants select wood that has been damaged by fungus or rot, wall voids, hollow-core doors or insulation in attics, basements and crawl spaces. Outside in your yard, they like old tree stumps and rotting firewood piles, fence posts, and landscape timbers.

What can you do about carpenter ants?

There are measures you can take to help prevent a carpenter ant infestation from occurring. This starts with trying to eliminate or reduce their favorite food: plant pests. Aphids, scale, mealybugs and other insects that produce a honey dew. So first things first, check your plants. This includes shrubs and trees. Trim any of the plants back from your structure. Some other things you can to help include: 

  • Inspect and correct any moisture issues, including leaks in your roof or plumbing. 
  • Ensure any cracks you find in your structure are sealed. 
  • Cover food and store food in sealed containers.
  • Clean up food crumbs and spills.
  • Keep firewood far away from your building. 
  • Keep soil to a minimum near the structure. 
  • Check that your downspouts and gutters are truly diverting water away from you building to prevent moisture build-up.
  • Replace decayed wood and remove any rotting trees from your yard.

Western Exterminator carpenter ant specialists

Don't let carpenter ants do costly damage to your home or property. If you think that you have seen signs of carpenter ants, or seen ants themselves, then contact your local Western Exterminator ant specialist today.

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