What Do Carpenter Ants Look Like, and Do They Have Wings?

What Do Carpenter Ants Look Like, and Do They Have Wings?

Carpenter Ant

Carpenter ants are large ants known for their wood-destroying ability. They reside here in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the world. They commonly inhabit moist or decaying wood including hollow trees, posts, landscaping wood, logs, and wood structures. Some carpenter ants do have wings. These flying carpenter ants aren’t a species but a caste of ants known as the swarmers whose job is to reproduce. They typically fly out in spring to mate and begin a new colony elsewhere.

What Do Carpenter Ants Look Like?

The most common feature of a carpenter ant is its size. Carpenter ants are huge compared to other ants. Queen carpenter ants can range up to 18 millimeters in length while worker carpenter ants range in size between 6 and 13 millimeters long. Carpenter ants also range in color. While most are black, they can also be a combination of red and black.

To identify a flying carpenter ant, you’ll notice it has two sets of wings of unequal length, a thin waist, and bent antennae. Flying carpenter ants are also larger than worker carpenter ants.

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Carpenter Ant Habits

Most carpenter ants live outdoors in hollow wood where there is a lot of vegetation, but it’s not uncommon to have carpenter ants living around patios, foundations, and other wood structures on your property. This is because carpenter ants have two nest types: parent colonies where the queen lives and stay due to need humidity levels for her eggs which support the lifecycle and satellite colonies which worker ants use to transport food and care for their pupae. These areas are like incubators for their young and our homes and business make a perfect environment for their survival and thriving of their pupae.

Carpenter ants are especially bad, because of their wood-destroying habits. While many people think carpenter ants eat wood like termites, they actually excavate it. They do this to help build their nests. Carpenter ants prefer to eat honeydew, insects, and plant and fruit juices.

Carpenter Ants or Moisture Ants?

Here in the Pacific Northwest, homeowners commonly confuse moisture ants with carpenter ants because moisture ants will also build their nests in moist, rotted, and decaying wood. However, moisture ants are smaller, about 4 to 4.5 millimeters in length, and they’re brown in color. Also, moisture ants aren’t wood-destructive. They only nest in areas with high moisture, speeding up the process of wood rot and eating fungus and mold in the decayed wood. Furthermore, moisture ant reproductives swarm in the Fall (August/September) while carpenter ants swarm in the Springtime (April/May).

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How To Control Carpenter Ants

While carpenter ants initially infest wet, decaying wood, they may later begin to excavate through undamaged wood as well. 

To help control carpenter ants,

  • Remove moist, rotting wood from your property
  • Trim back bushes and plants at least a foot away from your home
  • Seal cracks in your foundation, around windows, and near plumbing and electrical openings
  • If you keep firewood on your property, store it away from your home

Oftentimes carpenter ant infestations go unnoticed until it’s too late and severe damage has been done. If you see flying carpenter ants, this is generally a sign an infestation is nearby. So you’ll want to contact a licensed pest control company, like United Pest Solutions. We’ll locate trails and identify the parent colonies, eliminating your pest problem for good.

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