Social and experienced in wood-working, Carpenter Ants may vary in color by region, but they are all mammoths in the Ant family.
Carpenter Ants are the largest ants on the continent. Some species are black, others are reddish brown. Short hairs form rings around their abdomen and clusters on the head and thorax. Their huge jaws are adept at shaving timber, eating other insects, and drinking plant juices. They are not poisonous and do not have stingers, but the bite of a Carpenter Ant can still hurt thanks to its large mouth parts. Carpenter Ants are also able to spray formic acid from the tip of the abdomen, which may irritate skin and eyes. The acid is a defensive chemical used to deter predators from eating them.
Carpenter Ants tunnel through dead or decaying wood to build colonies. They do not eat wood, they just live in it. Because wood is used to build almost every building, occasionally the ants move into homes, offices and other buildings. Construction of an ant colony begins with boring through weak wood, but they can also chew through healthy, living tree roots if more space is needed. A colony has one queen, many workers, and some scouts. In order to prevent re-population of a colony in buildings, the egg-laying queen needs to be killed, not just the workers. Professional exterminators are helpful in eliminating ant presence in human dwellings.
The diet of this ant is varied. It eats other insects, plant juices, and the liquid 'honeydew' secreted from the bottoms of aphids. (Ants shepherd aphids on plants in order to collect this sweet serum.) In hot summer months, Carpenter Ants are more active at night. An old, established colony will eventually produce long-winged males and queens called alates. The winged ants fly out of the colony to mate, creating new or satellite colonies. Swarms of alates are usually seen in the spring. This is the only time ants will develop wings and they only do it for this purpose.
Scientific Name: Camponotus spp.
Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 6mm to 13mm (0.23in to 0.51in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Ant, Bee, and Wasp Anatomy
Antennae: Ants and Bees both have a pair of antennae on the head that senses their surroundings.
Head: The head contains the insect's compound eyes, antennae, and mandibles.
Thorax: Contains various vital parts such as the aorta and nervous system.
Abdomen: Contains various organs including the heart, gut, venom glands, and anus.
Legs: Ants and Bees have three pairs of legs attached to the thorax (center-body section).
NOTE: Ants, Bees and Wasps are part of the Hymenoptera order because they share many similarities.