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Damaging Pests: Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants are the most common and most damaging of all ants in our part of the country. Carpenter Ants tunnel through soft, damp or rotting wood and can do as much damage to a building as termites. Unlike termites, Carpenter Ants do not eat the wood. They “excavate” the wood and remove the debris from the nest area. They use these hollowed out areas (galleries) to establish their colonies.


  • Carpenter Ant workers are ¼ to ½ inch long
  • The body has three distinct parts
  • The antennae are bent

In contrast, termites a smaller, do not have three distinct body parts, and their antennae are straight


Carpenter ant colonies most often consist of a parent colony and satellite colonies.  It is important to locate and eliminate all the nests or the ants will just be back in a couple weeks.  To locate the nests, between 10:00 PM and 2:00 AM, take a flashlight and try to follow the ants to determine the location of the nests. The nests can be inside or outside but most often the parent colony will be located in a tree, log or stump outside.

Carpenter ants are dormant in the winter unless they are located in a heated part of a building.

To reduce the chance of having Carpenter Ant activity, consider the following:

  • Move any wood materials that may rot away from the buildings
  • Remove dead or rotting portions of trees
  • Keep tree branches from contacting or hanging over the
  • Reduce dampness by keeping gutters unclogged, plant materials at least six feet away from the building and repairing pipe leaks.
  • Seal openings with caulking around doors and windows as well as where the utilities enter the building.

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If you suspect you have Carpenter Ants, you should contact a pest control professional.  Other types of ants that we have in our area can be a DIY project but there is a lot to lose with Carpenter Ants if the do-it-yourself project does not work.