Ants are social insects and live in large colonies. There are two main types of ants in a colony: queens and workers. The queen ant lays eggs and the worker ants care for the larvae, look for food and defend the nest.

Depending on the species, ant colonies multiply by swarming or budding. Swarming means that winged males and females leave the colony to mate at certain times of the year. The mated females then establish new colonies.


There are many species of carpenter ants in Canada. Most of them have these common characteristics:

  • Three part body: (Head, thorax and abdomen)
  • Color: All black, dark brown, dark red, or a combination of these colors
  • Sizes: Each nest may have up to 5 different size ants between 10 and 20 mm
  • Antenna has distinctive elbow
  • Observed under a magnifying glass, there is one "node" or spike between the thorax and the abdomen
  • Circular ring of hairs at tip of abdomen (gaster)
  • No Stinger
  • Large mandibles for chewing tunnels in wood
  • Thorax has smooth rounded upper side

Life Cycle and Habits

Carpenter Ants establish their initial nest in decayed wood. Once established, the ants extend their tunneling into sound wood and can do a considerable amount of damage to a structure. They commonly nest in standing trees (living or dead), in stumps, or in logs on the forest floor. Since many houses are being built in forested areas, well-established, vigorous colonies are readily available in the immediate vicinity to attack these dwellings. This is especially true when homes are built with a minimal removal of trees and stumps near the structure.

The parent nest is often located in a tree, stump, or stacked wood within 100 meters of the house. Decorative wood landscape ties brought in to enhance the beauty of a yard or driveway may also be the location of a parent colony.


Satellite Nests

When the parent nest grows larger and needs room to expand satellite colonies are established. These satellite colonies often develop in nearby structures presumably because they offer warm protection. Only the parent nest contains the queen(s), young larvae and workers, while the satellite contains the mature larvae, pupae, workers, and/or winged reproductive. Ants move back and forth from the parent nest to the satellite nest but just a few (less than 10 %) will be visible outside of the nest. At times (usually late summer) workers can be seen moving mature larvae (white and grub-like) or pupae (papery cocoons) from one nest to another.

Possible sites of main nests:

  1. Wood in contact with soil
  2. Woodpiles
  3. Decaying tree roots
  4. Heartwood of live trees
  5. Rotting stumps


Possible Areas of Treatment

  • Door Frames, window frames and kick plates
  • Behind kitchen and bathroom cabinets
  • Areas where decks, patios, or steps butt against the outer siding
  • Porch framing including ceilings and columns
  • Soffits
  • Exterior perimeter
  • Beneath roof shingles and behind rain gutters
  • Frame of garage doors
  • Pipe chases in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, and basement pluming area
  • Crawl spaces
  • Inside cavities of infested trees
  • Wall voids

+ many more. Each area that will be treated will be identified beforehand during our inspection.  


Carpenter Ant Control

Many pest management professionals consider carpenter ants the most difficult pest to control. Many entomologists on government and university websites also express this opinion. The only total control solution is to locate and eliminate all of the satellite nests in a structure, and if possible the parent nest which is usually outdoors. This requires considerable knowledge, skills and experience. Spraying pesticides on carpenter ants visible outside of the nests will have little or no effect on the rest of the colony (only a few workers ever leave the nests). Common domestic ant poisons available to consumers have no effect on carpenter ants although they may work on some other ant species. Home remedies such as borax and sugar are also quite useless. The best solution is to phone us at Ideal Pest Control, request an estimate and consider the cost a worthwhile investment in the future value of your home.


Carpenter Ant Prevention

To prevent further carpenter ant infestations, trim all trees and bushes so that branches do not touch the house. Furthermore, eliminate other unnecessary vegetation touching the structure. You should also correct any moisture problems such as leaky roofs, rain gutters and downspouts. Try to paint and/or seal exposed wood construction before it becomes wet. Replace previously infested, rotted, or water-damaged wooden parts of the structure while eliminating wood-soil contact. Lastly, remove dead stumps on the property and store firewood off the ground and away from the structure.


Call Ideal pest control to eliminate them from your home and business today!