large black carpenter ants in greenville

Carpenter Ants

Pest Guide > Carpenter Ants

What do carpenter ants look like?

large red and black carpenter ant

Carpenter ants are a large species of ant. Adults grow to be about 5/8th to ½ an inch in length, and queens grow even larger - up to 1 inch in length.   Most carpenter ants are black, but they can also be red, yellow, or a combination of those colors.  Their body is oval and segmented; carpenter ants have a 1 node waist, six legs, and antennae. The workers have large strong mandibles.

Do carpenter ants bite?

Yes, carpenter ants do have the ability to bite people, and their mandibles are strong enough to break through skin.  However, carpenter ant bites generally only occur when their nesting area has been disturbed or in cases of extremely large infestations. 

Carpenter ant damage

Like other ant species, carpenter ants in the south generally create their main colony outside and will enter homes while foraging for food and water sources.  Once inside, these ants are especially drawn to moist or water damaged wood, but will also move into sound wood as well.  The workers use their strong mandibles to create tunnels and galleries inside the wood.  Carpenter ants usually have one main colony and several satellite colonies (which could be inside).  If a carpenter ant infestation is not treated, the damage to the wood may grow extensively and become difficult and costly to repair. 

Signs of carpenter ants

Carpenter ants leave behind several signs that they have invaded a home or other structure.  Signs of carpenter ants include:

  • Finding workers present in your home; especially in kitchen and pantry areas.

  • Noticing piles of wood shavings on the floor of your home, usually beneath wooden items.

  • Witnessing winged carpenter ants coming out of the walls or ceilings of your home, or finding wings piled up under windows or doors.

  • Hearing a quiet rustling sound behind the wall of your home.

Carpenter ants  vs. termites

Carpenter ants and termites often get confused with one another because they both infest structural wood; however, they do so for different reasons.  Termites actually feed on the wood while carpenter ants do not. They simply tunnel through the wood in order to create nesting areas.  Other differences between carpenter ants and termites include:

  • Termites are smaller than carpenter ants; they are also soft bodied and creamy white.

  • Carpenter ants have a pinched “waist” while termites have a broad waist.

  • Termites have straight antennae while carpenter ants have bent antennae.

  • Winged carpenter ants have a large pair of front wings and smaller pair of back wings; winged termites have two pair of the same-sized wings.

  • Carpenter ants are often seen outside of their nests and tunnels foraging for food and water sources.  Termites are rarely seen outside of the tunnels and nesting area.

How do you get rid of carpenter ants?

Getting rid of carpenter ants is a difficult task, especially because they tend to build multiple nesting sites around properties and in homes.  The best way to get rid of a carpenter ant infestation is to seek help from a pest control expert.   Spencer Pest Services has the tools, knowledge and experience to exterminate carpenter ants already inside and to prevent new activity from occurring.

Helpful Carpenter Ant Articles

Landscaping Tips To Avoid Carpenter Ants

How Concerned Should I Be About Carpenter Ants?

Common Ants In South Carolina

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