Bullet Carpenter Ants

DESCRIPTION : Carpenter ants are the largest ant found in California. From ¼ to ½ inch long ranging black in color to two tone black and reddish brown. Workers are non-reproductive females. There are two types found in the colony, major workers and minor workers. They have one node on the petiole.

BIOLOGY : Workers will excavate galleries in wood in structures, so therefore are considered as wood destroying. In moderate to warm temperatures, carpenter ants complete their life cycle in approximately two months.

Eggs hatch in 24 days, larval and pupae stage is approximately 21 days. Carpenter ants are omnivorous feeding on everything from seeds and plant material to protein such as bird's eggs, insects and baby birds. Carpenter ant problems in homes are perhaps one of the most difficult types of problems to control. The main colony of Carpenter Ants may be located either outside or inside the structure.

If the colony is located outside the structure, it may be located in a stump, a fallen log, a dead tree, or it may be located in the ground itself. The colony may be relatively close to the house or it may be quite some distance away.

If the colony is located inside the structure, many times the location is difficult to find. It may exist at any place in the ceiling of the first story and the floor of the second story, in first or second story balconies, and of all places in sliding hollow doors.

Ants have a complete life cycle consisting of egg, larva, pupa and adult. They are social insects, having a complex colony life.

Carpenter Ants excavate wood extensively, they do this to provide housing only. They do not eat the wood, which they have excavated. Their food instead consists of liquid sweets, wherever they can obtain it.

Carpenter ants vary in size in the colony from small to very large. Some have wings. Frass is uneven and looks like frass and sawdust mixed together.

Carpenter ants prefer damp or slightly fungus damaged wood for nests. They can be identified from other ants by a single node on the pedicel between the thorax and the abdomen.

Homeowners may become aware of an infestation of Carpenter Ants in one of several ways:

(1) The presence of wingless worker ants roaming around the house in search of food. Usually only a few of them at a time are noticed, but they are noticed frequently enough to cause annoyance.

(2) The occurrence of a large number of swarmers on a warm day in the early Spring. These may swarm in any room in the house. A colony does not give off winged reproductions until after the second year of the colony's existence. Swarmers indicate a well established colony.

(3) A faint "rustling" sound in the woodwork. The large size of the ant and the large numbers of individuals in the colony help create an audible sound as the colony members move about in their wooden channels.

(4) The appearance of piles of stringy sawdust-like frass, resulting from the "cleaning out' of the colony by the workers. A narrow slit is opened to the outside and the accumulated frass is pushed out, piling up on the horizontal surfaces below.