Carpenter Ant Problems

Carpenter ants can be black, black and red, all red, or dark brown, the ant nest contains major and minor ants, that is ants of different size, and the ant colony will even produce winged swarmers but here is the most important fact, carpenter ants destroy wood.

The black carpenter ant is a common invader of homes in the northeastern United States. In their natural habitat, carpenter ants aid in the decomposition of dead, decaying trees. They normally nest in logs, stumps, and hollow trees. However, the large, dark-colored workers often invade homes in search of food. These ants seldom tunnel into dry, sound wood, but they may excavate moist, rotting wood and other soft materials (such as foamed plastic insulation board) to make satellite nests. Rarely will the expansion of a nest into a building’s wooden timbers cause structural damage. Homes built in wooded areas are especially subject to infestation.

Carpenter Ants:

  • Workers are wingless, dark shiny brown to black in color, and 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length. They may be seen crawling around inside a residence.

  • Winged reproductive forms resemble workers in color and shape but are up to 3/4 inch long.

  • The body is constricted between the thorax and the abdomen.

  • The antennae are elbowed.

  • The front wing of a reproductive ant is longer than the hind wing.

Development from egg to worker requires a minimum of about sixty days.

The presence of large (1/2 inch), wingless, dark-colored ants inside a home is usually the first sign of an infestation. However, this does not necessarily mean that a nest is present indoors. The nest may actually be located outside, near the building.

Homeowners should watch for ants that are foraging indoors and try to find their nests. Look for piles of coarse, stringy wood particles, dead insect parts and other debris that are sifting from cracks in the siding, behind moldings, in the basement and attic, and under porches. Because carpenter ants do not consume the wood as food, excavated particles are dumped outside the nest. Unlike termites, the tunnels or galleries of carpenter ants are smooth-sided and contain no soil particles or fecal pellets.


  • Remove stumps, logs, and waste wood within 100 yards of the building.

  • Do not allow vegetation, especially evergreen shrubs and trees, to be in contact with the house.

  • Store firewood away from the house and off of the ground, and bring it into the house only when needed.

  • Keep wooden parts of the house and other structures dry by making necessary repairs to roofs, flashing, gutters, and downspouts.

  • Replace any water-damaged, decaying wood. Usually, carpenter ants will not infest wood that is sound and has moisture content of less than 15 percent.

  • Keep exterior wood surfaces painted and sealed.

  • Seal holes through which pipes and wires enter the house.

  • Use pressure-treated (CCA) wood for parts of the structure that will be in contact with the soil.

  • Place a moisture barrier (plastic sheet) over soil in crawl spaces and under wooden porches, and provide adequate ventilation for such spaces.

Homeowners that want to try controlling the ants should locate and eliminate all of the ants nests. If this becomes more than you can handle, our advise is to contact your local pest control company. 

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