Carpenter Ants

The Carpenter Ant

Carpenter ant

By Richard Bartz, Munich Makro Freak – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, 

Carpenter ants (Camponotus sp.) are mainly found in forests and are known to build nests inside the wood. They do not eat wood – they only carve it out of their way as they make a nest. Carpenter ants are common household pests that can wreck furniture and other wooden items. The Black carpenter ant is the most well-known species of carpenter ant in the US. The genus they belong to has over 1000 species scattered across the world.


  • There are one of the largest ants found in the US
  • Body length can be from 3.4mm to 13mm
  • Most of them are black in colour
  • Large, black dot-like eyes
  • Some species are reddish brown or yellowish in colour
  • Many of them have both red and black colouration
  • They have a rounded thorax
  • Presence of large mandibles

Appearance, Behavior, and Signs of Carpenter Ants

  • They build their nests in damp, decaying, rotting wood
  • Hollows of trees, tree stumps and tree branches are commonly seen sites of carpenter ant nests
  • They dig out tunnels in the wood to establish their nest, and so are often compared to termites (even though they do not eat wood)
  • Worker carpenters are the ones usually sighted, as they are the ones who forage for food
  • Swarmer ants are the ones that possess wings
  • A rustling sound can be heard near a carpenter ant nest – this is the sound of them making their way through the wood. They make ‘galleries’ in the wood that act as pathways for their passage
  • They are both predators and scavengers. They like the sweet honeydew produced by aphids, and also feed on sugary liquids and extrafloral nectar
  • Carpenter ants are most active at night
  • They prefer laying eggs in humid environments
  • Signs that you have a carpenter ant infestation would include wood shavings, sighting of the ants and rustling sound near wooden items


Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants. By Vengolis – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, 

Carpenter ants can enter your home if it has a damp environment and lots of moist wood. Kitchens, washrooms and basements thus become common places for these ants to nest. If there are trees nearby that are touching the building, the ants can use them to enter your house. If you have leaky pipes your house will be susceptible to moisture damage, which is ideal for the carpenter ants. Pipeline and wire openings are other entry points for these wood-diggers.  

Areas around windows and doors are especially susceptible to moisture damage and can attract these ants. Carpenter ants can cause extreme structural damage if left unchecked, not to mention ruin the appearance of your house. They have been known to build massive tunneling systems within the foundations of homes!


It is nearly impossible to remove a carpenter ant infestation from your home as its source might be unidentifiable. If the source is discovered, chemical treatment can be used to eliminate it. You can also use sugar and boric acid as bait. The sugar will attract the ants while the boric acid will kill them.

Carpenter Ant Facts

  • The male carpenter ants die right after mating
  • The queen influences the other ants using pheromones. She can choose to calm them or excite them
  • Carpenter ants are also known as ‘exploding ants’ because sometimes the ant’s enlarged mandibular glands explode and entangle everything nearby in a sticky glue
  • Carpenter ants usually build a parent colony which is later surrounded by satellite colonies