Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants
Scientific Name: Formicidae / Camponotus
Length:up to 2.5cm
Spreads Disease?No
Risk Factors: Can cause serious structural damage to your home

How to get rid of this?

<– Back to Pest Library

If you’ve ever spotted a super-ant that looks at least five times larger than the other ants you commonly see, it was probably a Carpenter Ant.  These pests are the giants of the ant world, and they’re common throughout Winnipeg and across Manitoba.  

If you are seeing Carpenter Ants in your home or on your property, beware of the damage they can cause.  Read on to find out how to identify them, remove them, and prevent them from returning in the future.

Why Do I Have Carpenter Ants?

Simple answer: Food and shelter.

Though you might think otherwise from their name, Carpenter Ants do not actually eat wood.  In reality, they are attracted to foods ranging from sugars to fats to proteins.  In the wild, they scavenge for these foods from plant and animal sources.  But your home may provide even easier access to food.  

Carpenter Ants seek shelter from the elements by burrowing nests out of moist wood.  In nature, a rotting log is perfect.  But you know what else can be perfect?  Your roof, deck, or window void.  

How Worried Should I Be About Carpenter Ants?

You should definitely be concerned about the presence of Carpenter Ants on your property.  

While it may take months or even years for a colony to fully establish itself, the resulting damage to wooden elements of your home and property (both decorative and structural) can be serious.  If you spot even a few Carpenter Ants in your home, it’s safe to assume there’s a nest close by.  And that means it is time to take action before things go from bad to worse.

How Can I Prevent Carpenter Ants From Invading?

The best way to prevent Carpenter Ants from invading is to keep your property clear of attractants.  Remove rotting wood, keep shrubs and tree branches from touching your home, and maintain a tidy yard.  Indoors, store food in tightly closed containers and clean up spills promptly.  

If you do spot a Carpenter Ant, don’t ignore it.  Be proactive in keeping these unwanted pests at bay!

How Do Carpenter Ant Colonies Develop?

Carpenter Ant colonies develop when a fertilized female ant establishes a site for egg-laying in soft, moist wood.  She usually lays about 15-20 eggs, which hatch into worker ants and continue to establish the nest site and colony.  

Successive egg laying and nest building eventually result in a fully mature colony of approximately 3,000 ants.  This includes queens, males, and workers–who maintain the nest, defend it and constantly forage for food.  Mature colonies also produce reproductive males and females that emerge, swarm, and mate in the spring and early summer.  

What Does a Carpenter Ant Queen Look Like?

The queen looks similar to other Carpenter Ants in a colony but is solely responsible for producing offspring.  She can range in colour from reddish-brown to black, yellow, or even orange, depending on the species.  Most Carpenter Ant colonies have only one queen, but some species have multiple queens.  

Do Carpenter Ants Fly?

In general, no.  But occasionally, yes.  Most ants in a Carpenter Ant colony are completely wingless.  However, in spring and early summer, winged reproductive males and females swarm and mate.  Once fertilized females establish a colony of their own, they shed their wings.  So, it’s rare but not impossible to see a winged Carpenter Ant during the right season.

What Do Carpenter Ants Eat?

Carpenter ants eat other insects, sweet nectars and syrups, fats, fruits, salty treats, and pretty much anything else you might spill, store, or put in the trash in your kitchen.  

Carpenter Ants do not eat wood, although they chew it with their strong mandibles. They leave the sawdust piled outside the entrance to their colony.

Do Carpenter Ants Bite Humans?

In general, no.  Carpenter Ants are not an aggressive species.  That being said, they will bite in self-defence, and their jaws are strong enough to tear through human flesh.  They also spray formic acid, which can add a stinging sensation to their bite.  Carpenter Ant bites are rare but painful.  Removing these unwanted pests is best left to the experts at Gilles Lambert Pest Control.