Bug Blog

The Black Western Carpenter Ant

The Black Western Carpenter Ant Is The Most Commonly Controlled Species Of Its Kind In The West, And This Species Is Well Known For Nesting In Woodwork, But Not Always

Hundreds of ant species belong to the Camponotus genus, and they are commonly referred to as “carpenter ants” due to their habit of nesting within wood. Many people are familiar with carpenter ant pests and their tendency to establish nesting sites within woodwork as well as natural wood sources. According to a recent nationwide survey of pest control professionals, carpenter ants were the most commonly controlled ant pests within homes and buildings during 2016. Another more recent survey carried out by the National Pest Management Association also found that carpenter ants are the most commonly controlled ant pests, putting them in front of pavement ants and odorous house ants. Yet another survey carried out last year also revealed that carpenter ants were the most common ant pests of homes, as this survey found that 80 percent of all pest control companies that responded claimed that carpenter ants were the primary ant pests that they deal with. To put it simply, most pest control firms address carpenter ant infestations more often than infestations established by any other ant pest species. However, there is a difference between carpenter ants in the east, and carpenter ants in the west.

The most commonly controlled carpenter ant species in the US is known as the black carpenter ant, and this pest can be found in all eastern states and several midwestern states. In Arizona and other western states, the black western carpenter ant (C. modoc) is the most destructive and the most commonly managed carpenter ant pest in the region. The black western carpenter ant worker is black with reddish legs, and they are around 11 to 13 mm in length. This species does not always nest within structural lumber or other finished wood sources, but they often establish multiple secondary nests, or “satellite nests” within homes. Carpenter ants are often compared to termites due to the wood-damaging tendencies of these two insect groups, but according to Mike Potter, extension entomologist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture in Lexington, carpenter ants are not nearly as destructive as termites. Dr. Potter also claims that most carpenter ant infestations are merely a nuisance, especially when they get into pantries and wall voids. Although carpenter ants are economically significant structural pests, infestations are usually eliminated before workers excavate nesting tunnels in woodwork.

Have you ever experienced a carpenter ant infestation that resulted in damaged structural lumber?