Project Description

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are highly social insects and are one of the largest types of ant that can be found throughout most of the United States. They have strong mandibles and use them to excavate their way through wood and wood structures to use it for nesting. Usually, the first way of telling if you have carpenter ants is by spotting large black ants foraging in, on and around your home. This species leaves tell-tale signs outside their nests of small piles of sawdust – generally referred to as “frass”. Typically these ants are black, red or brown, or varying combinations of red and black. The workers in the colony can range between 1/8 to 1/2 an inch in length and the queen up to 5/8 inches in length.

After a colony has been producing generations of workers for 6 to 10 years and numbers close to 2000, it begins to produce winged reproductive ants, both males and females, in the late summer. After spending the winter in the nest, these winged ants leave for a mating flight in the spring. After mating, the males die, but the females select a site to lay their eggs, thus beginning a new colony and completing the cycle. Before laying her eggs, the female, now a new queen, breaks off her wings.

Carpenter ants eat a variety of foods, including dead insects, the sweet honeydew exuded by aphids and some other insects, plant juices, and sweet or fatty foods in the home. Ants go without food for up to six months during their winter dormancy, but at other times require food and water. They may eat their own larvae and eggs if stressed.