Carpenter Ants vs Black Ants

By Horizon Pest Control

How to Identify Carpenter Ants and their Difference with Black Ants

A successful ant elimination does not just involve a simple spraying here and there or providing baits when they are seen. To eliminate the enemy it is also important to determine the species of the ant itself since their characteristic may help you understand their behavior. For professionals, the work of controlling these pests will require a five-step process such as inspection, identification, recommendation, treatment and evaluation. To better understand ant, let us discuss the one type of ant that is causing nuisance in homes, which are the carpenter ants.


Carpenter ants are one of the largest ants that can be found in North America with workers having sizes of ¼ to ½ inch long, but some species can even grow as large as a full inch. The workers can be found in variety of sizes. They have only one bulge at their narrow waist and an evenly rounded back. They come in a wide range of colors that includes black, red, brown, yellow and orange. The most common type of carpenter ants in the U.S. is the winged variety with a reddish-brown head and thorax and black body and abdomen. They are called carpenter ants because of their can create smooth tunnels and galleries on wood.

However, there is a black ant that resembles carpenter ants, which is the Allegheny mound ant. To be able to differentiate these two ants, a good eye is required just to observe these two look-alikes. These black field ants usually create large, low-profile mounds outside not like carpenter ants that like to establish their nests inside properties.


Carpenter ants unlike its look-alike can bring total chaos to a home it is infesting. They will enter buildings in search of nesting sites or moisture and they go together with several thousands of ants. Commonly, the nests that they constructed inside a structure are an extension of a larger, parent nest just located not far away from the building it is nesting. The parent nest can be a live or dead tree, a woodpile, or landscaping materials.


The damage carpenter ants can bring to a structure is not the same as termites. Termites consume wood while leaving mud-like substance to cover the surface of the wood. Carpenter ants usually create an extensive galleries and tunnels without leaving any muddy substance. However, the galleries and tunnels that they create can compromise the structural integrity of a building, thus the need to eliminate them is necessary. Carpenter ants can also infest new buildings especially in locations where the colonies were disturbed that will cause them to move out into their old structure.

Successful Elimination

To better eliminate carpenter ants, better determine if the ants you saw are carpenter ants or just a black ant.

1. Search for them. Carpenter ants do not consume wood. They like to feed on living and dead insects. They mostly hollow out wood to build nests. Look for moist wood including dead trees, stumps, and logs that are left on the ground.

2. Search in the evening. You will not see them during the day since most foraging is done at night between sunset and midnight during spring and summer months.

3. Look for black or red ants. If possible, measure the two ants with a ruler. If this is not possible, do your best to assess the size and look if the ant has a distinct heart shaped head with huge jaws. This will indicate that you found a carpenter ant. Common fire and garden ants have ridged thoraxes.


Once you have identified the right species of ant, you need to find and get rid of their nest especially if it is a carpenter ant that is now nesting inside a home structure. Getting rid of carpenter ant nest is difficult. This job should be given to experienced ant control specialist since they can easily do the five-step process of identifying the pest, providing recommendations, plans and actions for treatment and ongoing evaluation.

If you have an existing ant problem, contact Horizon Pest Control. To schedule a free appointment, go to NJ Pest Control.

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