The Carpenter Ant derives its name from its ability to bore out nests in wood – both standing and fallen trees and the wood structures of homes and other buildings. They are so skilled at this woodwork, their nests often appear to have been sanded down. Carpenter Ants are large, ranging from 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch, and are most commonly black, but can show red and yellow in their coloring, and have 12 segments in their antennae.
Carpenter Ants are also sometimes found under stones and enter homes seeking meals. These wood workers don’t actually eat the wood they nest in, but have a more advanced palate, seeking foods that people eat – especially meat and sweets – as well as other insects. A typical Carpenter Ant colony can be made up of up to 3,000 workers.
Carpenter Ants have an amazingly long life span, with workers living up to 7 years and the queen up to 25 years. The queen will lay 15 to 20 eggs during her first year, and up to 30 eggs afterward, with eggs maturing in about 60 days.
Because of the wise source of food and shelter, and the fact that their nests are usually found in areas that aren’t visible or exposed, Carpenter Ants are extremely difficult to manage.
Some ants, including carpenter ants, have polymorphic workers, which means that within one species the workers occur in different sizes. The best method to separate carpenter ants from other ants is by the following characteristics: 1) a waist with one node (petiole) and 2) a thorax with an evenly rounded upper surface.
(Factoid and Images Source: University of Minnesota; Jeffrey Hahn, Colleen Cannon, and Mark Ascerno; © 2009 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.)