What are they?
The red carpenter ant and the black carpenter ant are two of the most common types found in Canada. The red carpenter ant has a dark brownish-black body, with a reddish-brown upper body. The black carpenter ant is dark brownish-black all over.
Carpenter ants are from 6 to 25 mm (.24 to 1 inch) long. A carpenter ant's body is divided into three segments, with a very slim waist separating the upper body and lower body. Their antennae are bent and in sections. Male and female adults have wings at mating time.
Should I be concerned?
Carpenter ants are well known for their ability to damage wooden structures. They are also a nuisance and may damage your home as they search for food. Carpenter ants eat both plant and animal matter. Their natural food sources are insects, other small invertebrates, and sweet body fluids from aphids and other insects. Protein and sweet foods found in and around homes also provide food for foraging workers.
Carpenter ants build nests by burrowing into wood. They dig tunnels (called galleries). The wood is not eaten, but thrown from the nest as sawdust-like shavings which is called frass (a mixture of wood shavings and feces).
Carpenter ants live in large colonies with hundreds of workers (all sterile females), several males and females that reproduce, and one or more queen. When part of an established colony goes into a nearby structure, it establishes a smaller satellite colony or multiple colonies there.
How do I know if I have a problem?
Outdoors, carpenter ants are found in dead trunks of standing trees, stumps, or logs, or under fallen logs and stones. They also mine sound wood.
Indoors, because they prefer moist, decaying wood, carpenter ants can signal a moisture problem, or wooden structures that are decaying. As well as tunnelling in the trim of buildings, wooden steps, and window sills, ant colonies can nest in houses without attacking structural timbers, using hollow spaces like wall voids, attic spaces, and hollow doors.
Carpenter ants get into houses by several ways:
•windows •mining their way in or through wholes in foundations •heating ducts and air-conditioners •power or telephone cables •points where tree branches or other vegetation come in contact with the house •wooden structures attached to houses (like porches and sheds) •firewood brought into the house