Carpenter ants are insects that destroy wood, and are capable of causing havoc where ever they are allowed to exist.

The most common carpenter ant found in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas is that of the eastern or black carpenter ant.  These ants will sometimes travel up to 100 yards in their search for food and water. Unlike termites who actually consume wood, carpenter ants like to build their nests in wood that is either dead or damp. Piles of sawdust are a good indicator of their presence.

Carpenter ants living outside will build their nests in trees that they have hollowed out. However, colonies inside a home or business will find moisture-laden rooms and build nests around showers, sinks, tubs, bathroom tiles, inside doors and walls, and even inside foam insulation.

Generally, carpenter ants hibernate during the winter, however, if they have built a nest that maintains heat (such as within a home or business), the ants can stay active all year round. With colonies reaching populations of several thousand workers, these wood-destroying insects can prove especially problematic when they take up residence within a home or office building.


Carpenter ants are red and black, or entirely black and can grow to be between 3/16” to ½”. The species that is most common for Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the black carpenter ant, can vary between ¼” to ½” in length. The winged version can grow to be ¾” long.

Carpenter ants have narrow bodies that are segmented and include a rounded thorax and a single node between the thorax and the abdomen.


Despite popular opinion, carpenter ants do not eat wood. Rather, they chew through it to make way for their tunnels. Carpenter ants eat a variety of foods including sugar, jelly, pet food, meats, syrup, honey, etc. They also eat honeydew, a liquid produced by aphids.


Carpenter ants live where they can create their tunnels and galleries within wood. Those that live outside choose rotting out logs and trees. Carpenter ants that venture inside homes and businesses find soft and moist wood to chew through. These locations can include porches, roof eaves, the area around windows, decks, and interior locations such as in bathrooms and kitchens.


The main problem with ants is the fact that they can ruin wooden structures. The damage is created when the ants chew through the wood to bore their tunnels and galleries. The longer the ants stay in one place, the greater the damage because the wood structure becomes more and more weak.


Carpenter ants forage mostly at night, and use pheromone trails to track the scent left by other ants. They may travel up to 300 feet for food. Colonies can have thousands of workers, and after a couple of years, the colony may produce a few dozen winged ants. While ants do not seek out humans to bite, they can and will in defense of their nest. The bite can become irritated and painful due to the presence of formic acid.


Unlike many other insects, carpenter ants do not spread disease. However, their bites can be painful. Plus, contamination can result from them tracking their waste over food products. This is true for both human and pet food.


Carpenter ants pose more of a threat to buildings than humans, but even so, an infestation should be dealt with immediately. Here are some of the signs:

A crackling, chewing, or rustling sound within the walls
Discarded wings from the winged ants may be found on windowsills, vents, and baseboards
Sawdust trails and piles will be located nearby where the ants are chewing and building nests
Wood that has a smooth surface with the appearance of tunnels and galleries
Hollow wood (determine if it is hollow by tapping on it)


At SafeGuard Pest Control, we advise business owners and homeowners to take the following measures toward preventing a carpenter ant infestation:

Keep stacked wood away from wooden structures and foundations. Firewood should always be stored outside (not inside the house or in the garage).
Make sure pet food is sealed and/or covered tightly.
Eliminate any moisture source around pipes and in the roof by sealing off leaks.
Keep limbs from bushes and trees trimmed away from the structure.
Keep kitchen clean including counters, floors, pantry, and other storage locations.


Ant colonies often expand into satellite colonies. This is why it is extremely important for all colonies to be identified in and around the home or office. SafeGuard Pest Control can identify all of the nests and utilize the many advanced technologies including dusts and sprays to completely eradicate them all successfully.

The trained technicians at SafeGuard Pest Control LLC will determine the best locations for drilling, and sealing, to further ensure that there will not be a future ant re-infestation. Plus, they will create a maintenance program for you so that your home or office remains carpenter ant free.

SafeGuard Pest Control, LLC.
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