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Carpenter Ants


Common carpenter ants are one of the largest common household ants. Usually dark brown or black, they typically measure up to 3/8 inch in length, but winged reproductive carpenter ants may grow to nearly double that size. Like all ants, they have a distinct head, thorax (the chest-like middle section) and abdomen. A single, hump-like node at their waist helps distinguish them from other ants, which can have one or two nodes, and node-less insects such as wasps.

Homeowners often confuse carpenter ants with termites, especially during mating times when winged ants appear in swarms. Both these pests damage wood, but they look very different. These key features help tell them apart:

  • Antennae – Ants have jointed antennae; termite antennae are straight.
  • Waistlines – Ant waists are pinched and defined; termites look like cigars.
  • Wing length – Ant wing pairs are different lengths; termite wings are equal in length.
  • Color – Carpenter ants are usually dark; termites are typically lighter brown.


Carpenter ants nest in moist, decaying wood. Unlike termites, they don't eat the wood they excavate. If you see sawdust and insect debris piled below moisture-damaged wood, you have a potential problem. Open the wall and peek inside. Carpenter ant galleries are smooth and debris-free. Termite galleries are rough and lined with excrement.

Swarms of winged carpenter ants inside your home are a significant sign of a major infestation. This often occurs in spring, when ants mate. While a few winged ants shouldn't worry you, large numbers point to long-term infestations and significant structural damage.


One of the country's leading wood-damaging pests, carpenter ants work slower than termites but their damage is severe over time. Effective control requires killing ants you can't see as well as those you can. Amdro® brand offers several options to kill carpenter ants and reclaim your home:


By the time you discover a carpenter ant colony, your home may have serious structural damage. For severe infestations, consult a pest control professional to protect your home.

Always read product labels and follow the instructions carefully, including recommendations for professional inspections.
Amdro and Amdro Quick Kill are registered trademarks of Central Garden & Pet Company.

Pest Gallery

carpenter ant
Photo credit: Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org (CC by 3.0 US)
Photo credit: NY State IPM Program at Cornell University (CC BY 2.0)

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