The eastern United States sees the most significant degree of structural damage caused by carpenter ant infestations. This is due to the presence of the black carpenter ant species in the region, which is the only species in the US that consistently establishes nesting sites within the structural wood of homes. However, even most black carpenter ant infestations in the east are merely nuisance infestations as opposed to structural wood infestations. While carpenter ants are well known for their habit of tunneling through structural wood for nesting purposes, carpenter ants are more often pests that forage into homes in order to seek out human food sources. This is especially true when it comes to carpenter ant infestations in the southwest US where the most common carpenter ant pest species, C. modoc, is considered only an occasional pest of structural wood.
There are several carpenter ant species in the southwest US, the most common of which include C. vicinus, C. herculeanus, C. noveboracensis and C. essigi. C. modoc is more commonly known as the western carpenter ant, and this species tends to infest only structural wood sources that have become heavily saturated with moisture. This is why carpenter ant infestations in structural wood often indicate indoor moisture retention issues, and it is rare for western carpenter ants to initiate infestations within sound structural wood sources. The majority of western carpenter ant infestations are of the nuisance variety and are not destructive to the timber frame of homes. However, the western carpenter ant can also be an occasional biting pest within homes.
Many ant pest species are known for inflicting stings to humans, and a few species, such as red-imported fire ants, are known for inflicting both bites and stings, but very few ant pest species are known for inflicting only bites to humans. The western carpenter ant is one of these species, and their bites tend to be painful on account of their large and strong mandibles, as well as for their habit of spraying formic acid into the bite wounds that they inflict. Formic acid causes a burning sensation that, while painful, only lasts for a short time, and these bites are not considered medically significant.
Have you ever sustained a bite from a large bodied ant specimen?