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Ants (Carpenter Ants)
Ants (Carpenter Ants)

Ants (Carpenter Ants)


  • Size: 1/8 to 1/2 inch long; workers vary in size.
  • Color: commonly black but some species are red and black, solid red, or brown.
  • One node between the thorax and abdomen.
  • Winged reproductive males and female; wingless workers.

Habits of Carpenter Ants:

  • Eastern U.S. – mature colonies with 10-15,000 workers including satellite nests.
  • Western U.S.- mature colonies with 10-100,000 workers.
  • Developmental time (egg to adult): about 60 days.
  • Swarm: May through August (in the east); February through June (in the west).
  • Social insects that usually nest in wood.
  • Excavate galleries and tunnels in rotting and sound trees; within structures, readily infest wood, foam insulation, and cavities.
  • Often found in conjunction with moisture problems.
  • Feed on sweets liquids, honey dew from insects such as aphids, live or dead insects, and meat.
  • Do not eat wood.
  • Feed from late evening through the early morning.
  • Foraging trails extend up to 300 feet.
  • Enter homes through gaps and cracks.
  • Large numbers of winged adults within a home indicates that the nest(s) exists indoors.
  • Workers push frass (wood shavings and pieces of foam insulation) out of the nest through slit-like openings in the surface.
  • Frass may contain fragments of other insects.
  • Nest in trees weakened by decay.

Damage Caused by Carpenter Ants:

  • Excavate moisture-damaged wood.
  • Occasionally damage sound wood within structures.
  • Large colonies can cause substantial structural damage.

Look for:

  • Structural moisture problems, e.g., roof, soffits, bathroom, and kitchen areas.
  • Rustling sounds in wall voids.
  • Frass containing insect fragments.
  • Foraging ants, especially in the evening.

How to Control and Kill Carpenter Ants:

  • Moisture problems should be eliminated by drying out the wood.
  • Overhanging tree limbs which touch the structure, stumps, and firewood should be removed.
  • Cracks and crevices should be sealed to prevent entry.
  • The source of the ants, i.e., the nest and satellite nests, should be located.
  • Nests should be treated with a residual spray or dust.
  • Nests in voids should be treated by drilling holes in hollow doors, wall voids, ceiling voids, veneers, etc.
  • Infested wood should be drilled and a dust or liquid formulation should be applied directly into the galleries.
  • Treating worker trails reduces the infestation, but does not eliminate it.
  • Outdoor infestations can be reduced by the application of barrier treatments.
  • Baits are effective and can be used to eliminate the colony.

Innovative Pest Management serves the Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and Maryland area. Call us at (240) 755-0077 to schedule a free quote or appointment.