Discover the Details of Carpenter Ants – Camponotus spp.


Carpenter ants get their name because they excavate wood in order to build their nests.

Their excavation results in smooth tunnels inside the wood (formicarium). Carpenter ants range in size from one-quarter inch for a worker ant to up to three-quarters inch for a queen.

Colour: Varies depending on species, from red to black or a combination. The two most common species are black.

Legs: Six

Shape: Segmented, oval

Size: 5/8 inches

Antennae: Yes

Flying: Winged swarms

Carpenter ant sizes range from one-fourth inch for a worker ant to up to three-fourths inch for a queen in the most common species. They may range from red to black in colour. Carpenter ants build nests in deteriorating, moist wood; often the colony will extend its nest into adjacent, sound wood.

They are commonly found in:

  • Porch pillars & roofs
  • Window sills
  • Telephone poles
  • Live & dead trees
  • Rotting logs & stumps
  • Wood in contact with soil

Carpenter ants do not actually eat the wood removed during nest-building activities; rather, they deposit it outside entrances to the colony in small piles.


All species mainly attack wood that is or has been wet and damaged by mould. Even though these ants first invade wet, decayed wood, they may soon begin building paths through dry, undamaged wood. They usually come into buildings through cracks around doors, windows or through holes for wires. They will also crawl along overhead wires, shrubs or tree limbs that touch the building far above the ground.


Carpenter ants build their nests outdoors in various wood sources, including tree stumps, firewood or landscaping. They need a constant water source to survive. They will enter homes through wet, damaged wood.


Carpenter ants damage wood through their nest building. If they gain entry to a structure, they pose a property threat. They can convey a painful bite with pronounced mandibles and injection of formic acid into the wound.


Carpenter ants require a water source; therefore, eliminate sources of moisture or standing water. Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home. Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home. Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.

The ultimate goal of preventing an infestation of carpenter ants should include:

  • Keeping vegetation from contact with buildings
  • Preventing wood-soil contact
  • Ventilating to prevent moisture accumulation
  • Stacking wood off the ground & away from buildings
  • Repairing leaks in roofs & gutters, pre-treating before & during construction of new buildings.

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