Learn how to identify common pests; understand their biology, diet, and habits; and find out what you can do to control them.
Facts, Identification & Control
Carpenter ants are so called because they build their nests in wood. Carpenter ants can’t sting but can inflict painful bites with their powerful jaws and spray formic acid into the wound, causing a burning sensation.
Where do they live?
All species of carpenter ants mainly attack wood that is or has been wet and damaged by mold. Even though they 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. Most foraging is done at night between sunset to midnight.
Outdoors, carpenter ants feed on living and dead insects. They are also very attracted to honeydew, a sweet liquid excreted by aphids and scale insects. Indoors, carpenter ants feed on meats and pet food, as well as syrup, honey, sugar, jelly, and other sweets. They like damp places and when indoors they may be sighted around cabinets, sinks, dishwashers, rolled-up towels, bathroom tubs, sink and toilet areas. Nests are often concealed in wall voids, ceilings, or hollow doors.
How do they live?
Carpenter ants go through the stages of egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The colony population may eventually reach several thousand workers.
The workers range in colour from red to black.
How do they affect us?
Carpenter ants do not eat wood but they remove wood as they create galleries and tunnels for nesting.
The longer a colony is present in a structure, the greater the damage that can be done. Structural wood can be weakened when carpenter ant damage is severe.
How do we control them?
The best method to control carpenter ants is to locate and destroy the nest, replace damaged or decayed wood, eliminate moisture problems and seal off or screen potential entry points. Baiting may also provide some control.