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Carpenter AntsCarpenter Ants

Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Scientific Name: Camponotus pennsylvanicus (DeGreer)
Color: Varies depending on species, from red to black or a combination. The two most common species are black.
Legs: Six
Shape: Segmented, oval, one spike between thorax and abdomen
Size: varies; workers, 1/4-5/8"; queen, 3/4"
Antennae: Yes
Flight: No, although reproductives may have wings.

Carpenter ants are found in all contiguous states. They get their name because they excavate wood in order to build their nests. Their excavation results in smooth tunnels inside the wood. Carpenter ants range in size from one-quarter inch for a worker ant to up to three-quarters inch for a queen. A colony can contain over 3,000 workers or 10-15,000 including all satellite nests.

All species mainly attack wood that is or has been wet and damaged by mold. Even though these ants 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. Adult workers are mostly active at night, between 10 pm and 2 am, although it is not uncommon to see workers foraging during the day. Carpenter ants may travel up to 100 yards from the colony serching for food.

Carpenter ants build their nests outdoors in various wood sources, including tree stumps, firewood or landscaping. They need a constant water source to survive. They will enter homes through wet, damaged wood.

Carpenter ants may create satellite colonies which are away from the primary colony where the queen resides. Typically, the satellite colony consists of workers, larvae and pupae and, if in a house, is usually located in a wall void, attic and other hollow void area.
Piles of "sawdust" may be a sign of Carpenter ant activity. The frass (sawdust) is usually contains pieces of dead ants and other insects. Other signs of Carpenter ants are the presence of workers or reproductives, scratching sounds coming from a wall or void area made by the ants when the colony is disturbed.

Carpenter ants damage wood through their nest building. If they gain entry to a structure, they pose a property threat that may result in structural damage.

Because carpenter ants require a water source, eliminate sources of moisture or standing water. Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home. Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home. Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood. Cut down and dispose of dead trees and limbs.

The key to eliminating a Carpenter ant infestation is to locate the primary and all satellite colonies. Treat the colonies directly with an insecticide formulated as a liquid or dust. THis may require drilling into wall or other void areas.

(Source: National Pest Management Association, et. al.)