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West Chester's Carpenter Ant Identification Guide

Large, Black Ants In West Chester, PA

Perhaps you have experienced the following. You are pouring a bowl of Cheerios at the kitchen counter, just minding your own business, when you see it. A giant black ant scurrying between the dishwasher and the wall. This is the fourth one you have seen this week! Normally you don't even blink at the sight of a few ants, but these things are huge! What are they? Should you be concerned?

If you are seeing very large black ants in your kitchen, it is likely that they are carpenter ants. And if you are wondering if a few carpenter ants are anything to be concerned about, the answer is, yes, you should be concerned. 

carpenter ants outside of a home in west chester pennsylvania

Carpenter Ant Identification

Most carpenter ants are shiny black but they also can be dark brown, red and black, yellow, or red in color. Worker carpenter ants in a colony vary in size from 3.4 to 13 mm (about ¼ to ½ inches) in length. These ants have a single, pointed node between the thorax and abdomen. They also have powerful mouthparts, called mandibles, which they use to tunnel through wood.

Benefits Of Carpenter Ants In Nature

In nature, carpenter ants build nests inside wood (usually moist dead wood). They tunnel through wood but they do not consume it. Instead, they feed on things such as insects (living and dead), honeydew from aphids, sweet foods, meat, and fats. The activity of carpenter ants in nature is beneficial in breaking down dead, fallen trees. In the home, however, carpenter ant activity is not beneficial at all.

Are carpenter ants beneficial in homes?

If the wood of a home has been softened by water damage, it is at risk of a carpenter ant infestation. And if these ants move in, they can do extensive damage over time, causing weakening of the structure. They can also contaminate the food that they get into, spreading bacteria and possibly making people sick. If they infest decks or wooden stairs outside, these structures could become an accident waiting to happen. In the United States, carpenter ants cost home and business owners hundreds of millions of dollars every year.  

Carpenter Ants vs. Termites

The good thing about having carpenter ants as opposed to having termites infest your home is that you may see carpenter ants. Termites are very rarely seen since they eat wood and have no need to come out of the walls. So they can do extensive damage to homes without ever being discovered. If you happen to see one or two large black ants while you are pouring your Cheerios, this is a good thing; if you are aware of the damage that is taking place, then you can do something about it, but don't be fooled into thinking that there are only a few because you have only seen a few. These ants tend to stay hidden, only sending out a few scouts at a time to search for food sources. If you see a few, your walls could be teeming with ants.

What are the differences between carpenter ant damage and termite damage?

If your home has carpenter ants, you may notice sawdust or fine wood shavings underneath tiny holes in wooden structures; these holes are called kickout holes because it is where the ants kick out the wood they have excavated. If you rip out a wall and see galleries carved inside, you can tell if those galleries were caused by carpenter ants or termite by looking to see if the tunnels are smooth. If the tunnels have mud and dirt in them, they were made by termites. If they are smooth, you have a carpenter ant infestation. Smooth, dirt-free trenches are just one of several warning signs carpenter ants give.

Reach Out To Moyer For Carpenter Ant Control!

While there are some things you can do to your home that might keep carpenter ants from invading, once they have established themselves inside the wood, they can be extremely tricky to eliminate without professional help. Here at Moyer Pest Control, we have the experience, tools and products needed to get rid of carpenter ant infestations of any size! Reach out to us today to schedule home pest control services in West Chester.

Contact Moyer Pest Control

Our team is ready to solve your pest problem. Fill out the from below or call (215) 660-3642.