The scientific genus carpenter ants are a part of is called the Camponotus.  This species of carpenter ants is “polymorphic” meaning the size of worker ants in an ant colony varies.  Specifically, a colony of carpenter ants has one queen that is wingless.  Then, once the colony has matured, the male and female winged carpenter ants will appear; this typically happens after two years.

What do Carpenter ants look like?

Close-up of a carpenter ant, showing what the body structure looks like


A carpenter ant may be several colors-dark brown, yellow, red, and black. Most ants body parts are not as big as the carpenter ant. They vary in size--about 3.4 to 13mm.  The dark brown and black carpenter have a uniform coloring.  Yet, the red ones are black or dark brown and have a red-brown thorax.

Here are some common traits for the identification of carpenter ants:

  • Maybe multi-colored (e.g. red and black)
  • Tri-segmented, big bodies
  • They vary in size, 3.4 to 13 mm.
  • A big, heart-shaped head
  • Forms a big ant colony, often called swarmers
  • Colony or nests found primarily in damaged wood
  • May have a lifespan of around 25 years.

Do other insects and carpenter ants look alike?

Many pests make their way into your home. These pests hope to find solutions to meet the needs of the colony. Certainly, there are many ant species in the U.S. The black carpenter is one of these. Therefore, we have some tips to aid in the identification of carpenter ants and other species of ant swarmer. Identification can be difficult because there are so many carpenter ants found in the United States.

What are the characteristics of a carpenter ant?

Here in the United States, you will notice there are many species of big black ants with wings. There are so many carpenter ants we cannot use size and color as the sole method for identifying one. We can easily identify one of these ants by its big heart-shaped head. Other features to consider are tiny hairs found circling the anus area and a rounded thorax profile. Because of their size, these characteristics are best seen through magnifying equipment.

Does a carpenter ant appear similar to a termite?

A winged carpenter ant that is usually mistaken to look like a termite


What do carpenter ants look like? This is a question many ask. Often homeowners will confuse winged carpenter ants for a termite. A carpenter ant has many characteristics in common with this insect.  Both insects are around the same size. The termite does damage just as these big black ants carpenter do. Both have wings and are called swarmers, mating during the spring.

How to tell the difference between these two insects?

At first glance, one might mistake a termite for a winged carpenter. Although carpenter ants look like termites, they are very dissimilar. The big difference is it does eat wood. These ants do not eat it. A carpenter will only do damage as they construct their nests.  These pests do not eat the wood. They only use it to build carpenter ant nests.

Termites and Carpenter ants differences

Although these ants look like termites, they couldn’t be more different. One is known to eat wood. Carpenter ants with wings do not. The galleries created by carpenter ants workers are made with wood. Other winged black ant construct their galleries of dirt and mud.  The ants polish and clean it so much that it has a smooth appearance.

How do you know if they are carpenter ants or termites?

The primary difference between these two pest species with wings is their body parts.  A termite has a head and thorax. Whereas the carpenter ant's body consists of a head, abdomen, and thorax.  In addition, a winged male carpenter ant has shorter wings.

A close-up of what the body structure of a winged termite and a carpenter ant look like


Which wood-eating pest does more harm?

Carpenter ants have workers which do a lot of damage to wood on and around your home. However, which of these wood-damaging pests does the most harm to wood?  Over the long haul, the sub-terrain workers with wings create more; however, carpenter ants will do more in a shorter time period.

How many ant species are there?

In the United States, there are many species that look like carpenter ants. Each species is variable by size because they are polymorphic. This means the size of workers may be different within the nest. The fertilized female will fly off to form her own colony of workers, while the winged male will die.

What does the queen do?

Each colony or carpenter ants nest has this single thing in common. It is home to many worker ants and a queen. The male swarmers fertilize the queen. She can then complete her job by laying eggs. She then instructs her worker ants how to nurture the eggs until they become larvae. The workers then continue to care for the young ants until they mature.

Where in your home can you find ants?

Ant staying on the wall voids


Carpenter ants inside your home may indicate an infestation. They like to nest within wall voids and look around till they find something made of wood. And when they have created a nest in the wood, ants during winter may remain active.  Moist, decayed wood is what they like and look for. Door Frames, sinks, bath traps, windows, and chimneys are all places you may find a carpenter ant nest.

Where does a carpenter ant nest?

This species of ants will look around for material to build their big nests or colonies. It is typically damaged wood to get ants' attention, yet they could be anywhere there is water. Carpenter ants like to build their nests in the smooth galleries of wood.  Although they will nest in any wood, a carpenter ant nest is ideal when in moist wood.

Are carpenter ants dangerous?

When we think of the carpenter ant, danger to humans isn’t the image that comes to mind. Yet, the damage these ants do to wood is so severe.  If left without any form of treatment, a carpenter ant infestation can often get out of control.  Carpenter ants will look until they find the materials required for the carpenter and nest inside. This wood might have been damaged by water, insects, or decay.

What do carpenter ants eat?

Insects, alive or dead, are a source of protein that carpenter ants feed.  They also like anything sweet--from natural sugars in the fruit to the processed sugars in our home. They especially prefer the sweet juice produced by insects such as aphids.

Interesting Fact: When ants see a dead ant, they carry their waste out of the nest and get rid of it in the midden. The midden is a pile. It is like a dumpster which also acts as a cemetery. Ants move the body of a dead ant to prevent contamination of their queen.

Do these ants bite humans?

A carpenter ant biting a part of the human skin


Carpenter ants have big mandibles capable of biting through the wood; therefore, the answer to this question is yes!  Specifically, the bite of a carpenter ant may be quite painful, creating a sensation that itches and burns.  It is actually the formic acid the carpenter ant sprays on the bite that causes this burning.

After identifying ants, what is next?

To get rid of insects or ants, you should hire a professional in pest management.  This pest control specialist will usually offer a free inspection of your property.

This free inspection is to look for satellite nests. These are nests that are located in areas outside the main colony.  Pest management is complicated, and getting the right treatment solutions may be difficult.

What Attracts Carpenter Ants to a Home?

Carpenter ants are creatures of opportunity. But you have ants getting in the house because they look for any stable source of food and shelter. Usually, they are attracted to a home made of wood. But a home made of any material is subject to an infestation.  If your home has wood or moisture, carpenter ants will know it. Another object of attraction to a carpenter ant is food.  In particular, sweets!  They enjoy all the same foods we humans like, such as meats and sugars.

When should I worry about an infestation?

Anytime you see one big black ant, you should be worried about carpenter ants.  These ants' carpenter decayed wood to build their nest or colony in.  Usually, if it looks like carpenter ants, most likely it is. Thus, if you are looking for solutions to a carpenter ant infestation, then call a qualified pest control company.

Getting rid of a carpenter ant infestation for good

Carpenter ant infestation needing an ant control expert

If you suspect you have a carpenter ant infestation, you need to call a professional who can provide ant removal services. Call the experts at A.N.T. PEST CONTROL NEW LENOX, and they will safely and efficiently get rid of carpenter ants with their effective outdoor ant killer services.

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1200 S Cedar Rd #2D/E
New Lenox, IL 60451


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