Carpenter Ants (genus Camponotus) are large ants and are so named because of their habit of excavating, tunneling and living in wood, both indoors and outdoors. Wet or rotting wood is particularly inviting and enables easy tunneling. Always check firewood for these ants before bringing it indoors. In Maine we have primarily the Red Carpenter Ant and the Eastern Black Carpenter Ant. Their habits and sizes are similar, but the black carpenter ant is by far the more common of the two. Carpenter ants are one of the larger ants in Maine, but there is also a very small species of carpenter ant called the Smaller Carpenter Ant (Camponotus nearcticus) whose workers are only about 5 mm in length (see photos below). Nests of C. nearcticus are reported to be small, comprising only a few hundred individuals, but the species is nonetheless considered a household pest.
The forest is the carpenter ant’s natural habitat. Any wet, rotten wood attracts a new queen. Carpenter ants infest live, dead or fallen trees wherever there is some rot and moisture. In nature, they play an important role in recycling wood, but when they attack buildings they are destructive. The closer a forest with rotten logs is to homes or buildings, the more likely is a carpenter ant infestation.
Additional Information and Photos:
- Carpenter Ants (our UMaine Extension Published Fact Sheet)
- Carpenter Ants (Penn State Extension)
- Carpenter Ants [pdf] (Cornell)
- Biology and Control of Carpenter Ants (NC State Extension)
- Eastern Black Carpenter Ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) (BugGuide.net)
- Smaller Carpenter Ant (Camponotus nearcticus) (BugGuide.net)
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