The Difference Between Carpenter Ants And Common Ants 

It’s safe to say ants are seldom a welcome guest in anyone’s home, and they are very hard to get rid of when there’s an infestation. But knowing the type of ant that’s in your home can determine different treatment options; and one that most people should be on the lookout for are carpenter ants. While they may look like another ordinary ant on the outside, there are some specific traits you should look out for so you know how to properly identify carpenter ants and common ants.

Spotting The Differences Between Carpenter Ants And Common Ants 

According to an article at, which is part of the National Pest Management Association, carpenter ants get their name from the way they build their nests. Carpenter ants actually chew through wood, creating tunnels which soon turns into a big new beautiful home for them. Unfortunately for homeowners, that means they can dig through your home right under your nose and ruin it in the process.

Carpenter ants often get confused with regular ones because of their similar color and the fact that most ants seemingly look the same. But if you look at them up-close, you’ll notice carpenter ants have a distinctive heart-shaped head, a rounded thorax and the one segmented petiole. Petioles are a part of the ant’s anatomy that connects the thorax and abdomen.

Other common black ants have an unevenly shaped thorax with either one or two-segmented petioles. Another way to tell the difference, according to the University of Kentucky’s Entomology department, is carpenter ants can have wings, and always possess those large jaws and elbowed antennae. They say carpenter ants can also be a combination of black and red, or completely black, red or brown.

What To Look For To Find Carpenter Ants

Since carpenter ants are looking for the best location for a new nest, where you find them can be a sign it’s them versus regular ants. The University of Kentucky says if carpenter ants have a good foothold in your home, you’re more likely to see them coming out of small openings in the surface of wood or see their discarded “trash” left behind. Wood damaged by carpenter ants is usually shredded into fragments, almost looking like sawdust. When you see their discarded wood pile, it may also contain dead ants or bits of other insects which the carpenter ants have eaten. However; don’t depend on those obvious signs left behind, as carpenter ants can also leave those remains hidden behind a wall or other areas of your home. Carpenter ants prefer wood that is damp or moist, usually from a leaky pipe or rainwater, so if you spot them in those affected areas of your home, that’s a sure bet it’s them rather than regular ones.

Why It’s Important To Know The Difference Between Carpenter Ants And Common Ants

Pestworld says there are three main types of ants that most homeowners deal with: carpenter ants, odorous house ants and pavement ants – the latter two being part of the so-called “regular” ant family. Odorous house ants usually stick with temporary homes under pieces of wood, debris in landscaping outside, or in exposed soil. Instead of tunneling through wood, they usually make their way into your home via trees, shrubs, or plants that are close by. Odorous house ants also like to eat sweets, including one of the sweetest fruits: honeydew. Pestworld says they move their nests every three months or so due to the rain.

Pavement ants, also known as “Mason ants” due to their ability to climb on a home’s masonry walls, are naturally found nesting under rocks or, like their name implies, pavement. These ants also love sweets and crumbs; another reason to make sure you’re keeping your floors clutter and food-free.

The reason why it’s important to know the difference between regular and carpenter ants: one could be a nuisance while the other can be a life-changer. It’s important you get a good look at the different types of species so you know exactly what you’re dealing with. Even though you see carpenter ants in your home, it also may not necessarily mean that’s where their home is – that’s why it’s important to call the experts first before you run out and buy any old bug spray that may not even work on them.

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