Carpenter Ant Biology and Habits

Black Carpenter Ant

  • Color: All black
  • Workers: 1/4–1/2-inch in size
  • Queen: Large, over 1/2-inch in size
  • Swarming: Colony matures in 3–4 years, 
  • swarming occurs in late spring–summer
  • Distribution: Mid West to Eastern States

Western United States:

  • (Camponotus modoc) (Camponotus vicinus)
  • Color: Black Body, red dark legs
  • Workers: 1/5–1/2-inch in size, but variable
  • Queen: Large, over 1/2-inch in size
  • Swarming: Occurs in late spring–summer.
  • Colony size: Up to 15,000 workers
  • Distribution: Western US States
  • Nests: Generally excavates in decayed or damaged wood. Creates smooth tunnels and galleries.They can compromise structural integrity by expanding into sound wood. Nests may be found in dead trees and stumps outside.

Florida Carpenter Ant

  • Color: Red head, black abdomen, thorax, and legs
  • Workers: Smaller, 3/16–3/8-inches in size
  • Queen: Large, over 1/2-inch in size
  • Swarming: Unmated swarmers in satellite colonies
  • Distribution: Florida and southeast U.S.
  • Colony size: Up to 3,500 workers.
  • Nests: Seeks to nest in existing voids or excavates soft woods 
  • that are rotten and styrofoam.

Field Ant

The Field Ant (Formica) may be identified as a carpenter ant. Both carpenter ants and field ants have one node or a one-segmented waist. The field ants have an uneven thorax, and the carpenter ants have an evenly rounded thorax. The Field Ant may be found throughout the US.

Field ants may come inside to forage, but do not establish nests inside like the carpenter ant. They nest in soil or decayed logs and construct their nest from grass stems, twigs, pine needles, etc., forming a mound. They form low profile mounds in the yard. Their mounds can reach a foot or more in diameter. If the mound is disturbed, they may aggressively swarm out ant bite the intruder. The bite may sting.

They are commonly noticed during the fall months as they swarm from underground to new locations to establish new colonies. Use an ant bait granular around the mound likeMaxforce Complete Ant Bait.
Univ. of Nebraska (click on image to enlarge)

Carpenter Ant Diet

Outdoors, carpenter ants feed on protein-based foods (such as living and dead insects) and sweet-based foods (such as the honeydew produced by aphids and certain scale insects). Indoors, carpenter ants feed on meat and fats, and any sweet food such as syrups and jellies.

Most foraging is done at night between sunset and midnight during the spring and summer months. Sometimes workers travel up to 100 yards from a nest in search of food.
Carpenter Ant Biology and Habits

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