What Are Carpenter Ants?

Carpenter ants are one of those bugs that can be mixed up when trying to identify them. Many times people will confuse a carpenter ant with a termite, especially when they are swarming.

So What Are Carpenter Ants and What Should We Know About Them?

  • What is a Carpenter Ant?First and foremost, carpenter ants are,.. well, ants. The carpenter ant anatomy will look similar to that of a standard ant. You are going to see a head, thorax, and abdomen with varied sizes. A termite often times will be similar width through its whole body.
  • The carpenter ant antenna are crooked (bent) whereas the termite will have straight antenna.
  • The carpenter ants are social insects. They like to live and work out of a colony setting. So if you see a lone ant wandering around you are probably not dealing with a carpenter ant.
  • Carpenter ants do not actually eat wood, as termites eat wood. Carpenter ants will chew wood to make tunnels for their colony to seek shelter to lay eggs and live out of. You will often find little sawdust piles around the wood that carpenter ants are chewing on. Termites on the other hand will actually digest the wood they chew.
  • Carpenter ants set up a colony with worker ants, a queen, reproducers, and larvae. The workers are generally sterile ants without wings. These workers are likely what you come across when you find carpenter ants in and around your house. In the spring the reproductive females and males will fly off in an effort to mate and establish new colonies. This ‘swarm’ is similar in pattern and behavior to a termite swarm. The male dies after mating (tough life) and the female seeks a place to establish a new colony laying a series of new eggs.
  • The carpenter ant swarmers are pretty easily identifiable in comparison with a termite swarm. The termite swarmers will have wings that are equal in length. The carpenter ant swarmer will have different lengths in their front and back wings. Swarms can be pretty freaky so you might not want to get close enough to check them out, but that’s the easiest way to identify what you are dealing with.
  • Carpenter ant damage is generally not as intensive as termite damage can be. However, left unchecked for a lengthy period of time you could be dealing with some serious structural issues.
  • If you have some indoor nests then they likely started at some spots outside. So if you are keeping an eye out for carpenter ant swarms this spring then you will know if you need to tend to possible home invasion of carpenter ants.

If you use these carpenter ant facts as a check list then you will definitely be able to know whether you have a carpenter ant problem, or another bug problem. Treating carpenter ants can be tricky, especially if you are trying to treat a colony within the wood tunnels they have been chewing on. If you feel the colony is getting a little too close to your home for comfort then give us a ring at Johnson Pest Control and we will be happy to find a solution to your carpenter ant problems.

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