Carpenter Ants
(Camponotus spp.)

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Carpenter Ants, if left untreated, can cause serious structural damage to buildings.

Appearance
 
  • They have 3 body segments: head, thorax, abdomen

  • They are among the largest ants in the United States, growing to 3.4 mm to 13 mm in length

  • The most common colors in Oklahoma are solid black or reddish brown on the first two sections of the body and black on the end

  • Workers have large mandibles

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Carpenter ants prefer to nest in decayed wood but will migrate into other materials as their colony expands. Outside, you can find nests in rotten fence posts, stumps, firewood, dead portions of trees, and other various decaying wood. In homes and buildings, Carpenter Ants will nest in decaying wood and migrate into sound wood, insulation, and wall voids.

Carpenter ants do not eat wood but they nest and excavate in it, or hollow it out to make room for their growing colony. They feed on a variety of food including, sweets, meat, and other insects.

Reproduction

The queen lays 9 to 16 eggs the first year and may live up to 25 years. Eggs complete their life cycle in about 6 to 12 weeks.

Signs of an Infestation

Homeowners usually observe Carpenter Ant workers and swarmers or discarded debris piles in their home. Workers are typically visible when they forage for food. You can sometimes reveal nests when you clear decayed wood. Swarmers are visible when a colony has matured and they are ready to form new colonies. To identify a debris pile inside homes and buildings, look for discarded piles of rough wood shavings, insulation, and other various debris that resembles a small pile of really fine sawdust. Carpenter Ants produce debris piles when they hollow out cavities for their nest, carrying excavated debris to a convenient opening and discard it.

Treatments

Controlling a carpenter ant infestation starts with proper identification of the Carpenter Ant through its physical characteristics. The next step is to find the nest, remove or chemically treat it. Remove any conditions conducive to the Carpenter Ant nests to prevent re-infestation.

When treated early, Carpenter Ants do not cause serious damage to houses and buildings. If left undiscovered or untreated for extended periods of time they can cause serious structural damage. Incorrect treatment procedures may not eliminate the colony and the surviving members of the colony rebuild. Therefore, it is important to seek professional help to eliminate an infestation.