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Carpenter Ants FAQ

6/16/2011 12:00:00 AM
Carpenter Ants FAQ

What do carpenter ants look like? What distinguishes them from other ants?

Carpenter ants are large, ranging in size from 3/8 to 1/2 inch in length, and are usually dull black with fine yellow hairs on the abdomen. From a distance, they might appear to be entirely black. They nest in moist wood, whether outdoors or inside a structure.

Do carpenter ants have wings?

Workers don’t, but one might encounter winged males or queens, particularly in the spring or summer. Colonies are often noticed only when swarmers enter a structure.

Do carpenter ants eat wood?

Contrary to popular belief, carpenter ants do not eat wood. They excavate it. Like most ants, carpenter ants feed on sweets, grease, plant juices, fruits, and other insects. Termites, on the other hand, eat wood. Both are considered wood-destroying pests and can cause severe structural damage.

How can I tell the difference between carpenter ant damage and termite damage?

Termites form mud tubes, while carpenter ants tunnel through wood, parallel to the grain, creating long, smooth galleries.

Do carpenter ants bite or sting?

They don’t sting, but the workers can bite.

How can I prevent carpenter ants from infesting my home?

Two words: Moisture control. Carpenter ants can excavate dry wood, but start with moist wood. Any moist wood, whether it’s in a pile next to the house, in the crawlspace, or in the structure itself (such as a window or door frame), could become the home of a carpenter ant colony. Here are several suggestions for keeping that from happening:

  1. Keep rain gutters clean, and be sure that water is being directed away from the structure. The farther, the better.
  2. Check for leaks. Not just in the roof; a leaky faucet can also invite an infestation.
  3. Store firewood away from the house and off of the ground.
  4. Periodically inspect foam insulation. Carpenter ants have been known to nest in this material.
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