What Does a Carpenter Ant Look Like?

Carpenter Ant

All ants can look similar from far away, but carpenter ants have distinct features that make them stand out amongst the rest. Carpenter ants are a common household pest and large colonies are capable of destroying wood on your home. If you suspect you have carpenter ants, it’s important to eradicate them from your home as soon as possible to avoid an infestation.

Identification: What Carpenter Ants Look Like

Identifying carpenter ants can be tricky because they look similar to other types of ants. Generally, these pests are between 1/4 and 1/2 inch in length and range from black to reddish-black in color. Carpenter ants have a small waist and six legs. Their antennae are bent at a 45-degree angle and their thorax is uneven with one side being larger than the other. 

Carpenter ants have two sets of wings that are unequal in size—the front set is shorter than the back set. Carpenter ant workers do not have stingers, but queens can sting if threatened or provoked.

Signs of Carpenter Ants in Your Home

If you think you may have a carpenter ant infestation, it’s important to inspect your home both inside and out for signs of activity. Inside, look for sawdust piles near wood surfaces, such as walls or window frames. Outside, look for trails of ants on trees and stumps or around your foundation where they may be entering your home.

Why Carpenter Ants Are in Your Home

The primary reason carpenter ants enter your home is because they are seeking out food sources, typically sugary items like honeydew or syrup. They also feed on other insects, both alive and dead, which may be found in your home. 

Carpenter ants also seek protection from predators and the weather, so if there are openings or cracks in your foundation, this could provide easy access for them to enter your home. Carpenter ants prefer moist wood for their nesting sites, so decks, porches, windowsills and other areas exposed to the elements may attract them and allow them to enter your home. 

The best way to prevent an infestation is by sealing off any potential entry points and keeping food sources away from these areas. If you suspect an infestation has already occurred, professional help may be needed in order to effectively eliminate the problem.

Carpenter Ants vs. Termites

Carpenter ants and termites look very similar, but there are some key differences between the two. Carpenter ants are black or brown in color, while termites can range from white to yellowish-brown. Carpenter ants also have a larger head than termites, as well as a distinct “waist.” Additionally, carpenter ant mandibles are notched for cutting wood, while termite mandibles are smooth. And finally, carpenter ants produce sawdust-like material when they excavate wood, whereas termites do not.

Both carpenter ants and termites can destroy the wood in your home overtime, but carpenter ants don’t actually eat the wood. Termites cause significantly more damage because they eat the wood continually; but carpenter ants can do damage overtime by digging tunnels.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants can be a real nuisance, causing extensive damage to homes over time. If you have found carpenter ants in your home and have tried getting rid of them on your own, it may be time to call in the experts.

Tanler Termite offers free inspections and estimates on carpenter ant problems throughout the Los Angeles area. They offer same-day or next-day service, and work hard to get the job done in one trip. Reach out to Tanler Termite today to schedule your free estimate!

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