Carpenter Ants During Inspection

Author: Pacific Northwest Inspections Group, LLC   Date: 14-Mar-2018.   Category:   Add to Favorites 


Carpenter ants are large ants indigenous to many forested parts of the world. They build nests inside wood consisting of galleries chewed out with their mandibles, preferably in dead, damp wood.

Carpenter ants are among the largest ants in Bellevue. There are several species of carpenter ants that may be found infesting in residential homes and commercial buildings. Normally workers are black, or red and black, in color; and range in size from 3/8 to ½ inch. Winged queen ants may be as large as one inch. However, size is not a reliable characteristic for identifying carpenter ants. In Minnesota, there is one species with workers no larger than 3/16 inch. These ants are seen more frequent than the Dampwood Termite.

A colony of these ants are divided into different castes: i.e. workers, queens, and males. Most ants, including carpenter ants, have different sized workers which help the nest with a range of jobs from food collecting to nest defense. The best method to distinguish carpenter ants from other ants is by the following characteristics: 1) a waist with one node (petiole) and 2) a thorax with an evenly rounded upper surface. Carpenter Ants

There are other ants that appear similar and are occasionally mistaken for carpenter ants. They may have one or two nodes. However, they can be distinguished from carpenter ants by the uneven profile of their thorax. These ants are usually not wood-infesting, so it is important to correctly identify the ants before control is attempted, as effective control strategies vary with different ant species. Carpenter ants are often first noticed in late winter and early spring. This is the time when carpenter ants and other ants emerge to mate and attempt to start new colonies. These reproductive forms are identified by their two pairs of wings and relatively large size. The presence of winged ants indoors generally means that a nest is located in the structure.

They’re called carpenter ants because they are particularly good at woodworking. They like to nest in living, standing trees using their sturdy mandibles to excavate tunnels and rooms in the wood. Many people see black carpenter ants living in their trees and think the ants are killing the trees. However, black carpenter ants actually have a history of helping trees. They have an appetite for tree pests like red oak borers, and they spend a lot of their time foraging around their home, plucking pests off the bark. 

Because of these woodworking skills, some people think carpenter ants are pests. While black carpenter ants can make their tunnels in the wood of people’s homes, they often point homeowners to bigger problems: damp and rotting wood from a leak or drip or other pests living in that wood. When wood becomes soaked through, carpenter ants can easily use their jaws to snap away and build their tunnels. If homeowners keep their wood dry, carpenter ants will usually stick to the trees. That is, unless the homeowners have pests like termites or wood beetles snacking away inside their walls.

Sometimes black carpenter ants will happen upon such a treasure trove of food and set up camp right next to their grocery store. Can you blame them? 

So now that we have identified the insect during your home inspection what steps are next?

First off buyers should always refer to the seller disclosure form, known as Form 17. This will provide further details to the home and any know ant infestations or issues. Let face it the owners live there and should know if any ant traffic has ever been an issue. Inspectors are there for a short peered of time compared to the owners.