Carpenter ants are large black, red and black, solid red or brown ants that vary in length from 6 to 25 mm. The workers generally range from 6 to 13 mm in length. The reproductive males range from 9 to 10 mm in length and the reproductive females, the queens, are the largest, ranging from 12 to 25 mm in length.
Carpenter ants are one of the most common insect pest species that invade our residential, recreational/cottage and commercial properties throughout Ontario. They live in colonies that typically consist of non-reproductive female and male workers, young reproductive females and males and one queen. Mature colonies can consist of thousands of ants. The workers constantly construct and protect the nest and forage for food.
When foraging for food, the workers leave invisible pheromone trails that lead the other worker ants to food sources. Workers will consume food on the spot and regurgitate it back at the nest to nourish developing larvae, non-foraging workers and the queen. The winged reproductive males mate with the reproductive females and then die soon after. After mating, the reproductive females shed their wings and leave their colonies to start new ones. In the winter, carpenter ants are inactive and hibernate in their nests.
An infestation of Carpenter ants can be extremely difficult to exclude. Carpenter ants do not eat wood, but construct their nests by burrowing into and hollowing out wood. They prefer moist and decayed wood, as it is a favourable environment for reproduction and survival. However, they can burrow into and destroy surrounding sound wood as well. Outside your property, they can be found in decks, porches, dead trunks, stumps, telephone poles and in any wood structure they are capable of burrowing into.
Inside your property, they are likely to infest certain parts of a house such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, garages and around wooden trim and window sills throughout the house. It is also possible for colonies to nest in houses without attacking structural wood, using hollow spaces such as wall and floor cavities, attic spaces and hollow doors. If they have moved inside your home, cottage/recreation or commercial property, it could be a very good indication that you have a moisture problem or wooden structures suffering from decay and over time, their extensive burrowing and excavating is highly likely to cause significantly worse damage.
To eliminate and reduce the risk of Carpenter ants invading and destroying your residential, recreational/cottage or commercial properties, treatment and exclusion is the best prevention.