Carpenter ants are big ants that live in many parts of the world. They like to build their nests or colonies from dead, damp timber. However, contrary to popular opinion, they do not feed on wood as termites do.
They use timber to build their colonies and tunnel through it in their search for new sources of food. This is evidenced by piles of frass, which is the debris that the carpenter ants have hollowed out of typically damp. dead wood.
There are over a thousand species of these large, typically black ants, which belong to the genus Camponotus. Carpenter ants live in colonies and have colonies both indoors and outdoors in moist, decaying or hollow timber. They like to travel through this rotting timber by chiselling out galleries or walkways in timber length-ways up the grain in order to provide passageways from one part of the nest to another.
The parts of a house that are most prone to be of interest to carpenter ants are floor joists, window frames and rafters in the roof. In fact, anywhere where you are liable to have a difficulty with water entry. Decks and porches are also obviously at risk.
An interesting fact about carpenter ants is that some species produce members that can explode in order to kill attackers. These so-called exploding ants are found mostly in South East Asia where there are at least nine species that can cause their bodies to explode, thus committing suicide.
These ants have a huge abdomen which produces a sort of glue which is shot out of the head onto attackers. The exploding ant dies, but all the attackers caught up in this mesh of glue are immobilized as well.
How do you know whether you have carpenter ants or not? Well, the best method of idetifying carpenter ants from other ants is by observing their waists. A carpenter ant has only one node or hump and their thorax or upper body is well-rounded and smooth. Other similar ants have more than one node or an uneven or two-sectioned back.
If you are looking at flying ants, then the disparity between carpenter ants and termites, with which they are often confused, is that carpenter ants have darker-coloured bodies, narrow waists, elbowed or bent antennae and, if they have them, the rear wings are shorter than the front wings.
Another aspect is that carpenter ants are fairly happy to come out and be seen, whereas termites are light-shy, even though carpenter ants are most active between dusk and mid-night and reproductive termites will take to the air during the day time.
Carpenter ants eat protein and sugar such as other insects, living or dead and spilled honey or sugar. This honey can also be extracted from aphids or greenfly, which is called honeydew. Therefore, if you want to trace carpenter worker ants back to their nest or colonies, you have to lay down something like honey and watch the ants take the food back to their colonies. This is the first step in destroying colonies of carpenter ants.
Owen Jones, the author of this article writes on quite a few topics, but is at present involved with Getting Rid Of Carpenter Ants. If you would like to know more or check out some great offers, please go to our website at Killing Carpenter Ants.