Carpenter ants are one of the largest ants found in U.S. homes. Carpenter ants, like other ants, live in a social unit or colony containing three classes of ants; (1)Winged and wingless queens
Wingless queens measure 5/8 inch, winged queens 3/4 inch to the tips of their folded brownish wings. (2)Winged males
Winged males are much smaller than winged queens. (3)Various sized workers
Small minor workers 1/4 inch and large major workers 1/2 inch. Workers have some brown on them while queens are black. Workers have large heads and a small thorax while adult swarmers have a smaller head and large thorax.
Carpenter ants have a smoothly rounded arched (convex) shape to the top of the thorax when viewed from the side and a pedicel between the thorax and abdomen consisting of only one segment or node. They have constricted waists, elbowed antennas and the reproductive's forewings are larger than the hindwings, transparent or brownish and not easily removed. Adults are usually black with some species red, brown or yellow occurring on parts of the body and legs. Eggs are about 1/8-inch long, cream colored and oval. Larvae are legless and grub-like, later pupating in tough silken, tan-colored cocoons erroneously referred to as "ant eggs."
If you find 20 or more (winged or wingless) Carpenter ants inside your home in the same location, this may be an indicator that a colony is present. It is possible that the colony is well established in the home and their nest may extend into sound wood, which in some cases may cause structural damage. Carpenter Ants do not eat wood, but often remove quantities of it to expand their nest site. If only one or two Carpenter ants are found inside the home, this is probably an indication that the colony is outside and a couple of errant ants have wandered inside. Outdoors, Carpenter Ants can be found running over plants and tree trunks or living in moist, partly rotten wood stumps.
Nests of the Carpenter Ant can be found in both moist or dry wood. However, they prefer to nest in moist wood. Moist wood in the home is often the result of leaks form rain and condensation, such as seepage from plugged roof gutters, chimney & pipe flashing, wooden shingle roofs, hollow porch posts, columns, leaking window and door frames and window boxes. Inside the home make sure to inspect behind bathroom tiles, around tubs, showers, sinks, dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerator drip pans, etc. Outside of the house be sure to inspect wood that comes in contact with the soil such as steps, porch supports., siding, crawl spaces, pipes, poor pitch of porch roofs, flat deck porch roofs, under porches, attics, etc. On some occasions nests are found in dry environments, such as hollow veneer doors, curtain rods, small voids between the door casing and ceiling, false beams, or under insulation in attics.
Look for damaged timbers, ants that may be caught in spider webs, wood dust piles indoors, piles of wood debris ejected from the colony. You can gently tap floor joists, etc. with a hammer. A nest cavity gives a hollow ring. A knife blade will penetrate the wood if infested.
An aerosol Flushing agent, containing pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide, applied directly into cracks, crevices or holes, will excite the ants (repellent action) causing them to come running out revealing the presence of their nest in some instances.
Prevention of Carpenter Ants
Keep all trees and bushes trimmed so branches do not touch or come in contact with the house. Correct moisture problems such as leaking roofs, leaking chimney flashing, or plumbing, poorly ventilated attics or crawl spaces and blocked gutters. Replace rotted or water-damaged wood and eliminate places where wood comes in contact with soil. Remove dead stumps, logs and firewood within 50 feet of the house, especially in Summer months. Repair trees with damage and broken limbs or holes in the trunk. Seal cracks and crevices in the foundation, especially where utility pipes and wiring occur from outside. Be sure to store firewood off the ground away from the house and bring in only enough firewood to be used quickly . Consider non-organic mulches near the house in heavily infested ant areas. High moisture conditions must be eliminated to help control carpenter ants, prevent future attacks and prevent "wood decay" fungus infection.