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How to Manage Pests

Key to Identifying Common Household Ants

Carpenter ant—Camponotus spp.
Subfamily: Formicinae

Worker ant
Carpenter ant characteristics

Identifying characteristics


  • Feed on dead and living insects, aphid and scale honeydew, and juices of ripe fruit; prefer sweets
  • Do not feed on wood
  • Travel in loose trails
  • Forage mostly late in the day or at night
  • Prefer moist or humid environments
  • Piles of sawdust-like frass and insect parts deposited outside or nearby nests
  • Bore into wood to make nests, sometimes causing serious structural damage

Nest type and size

  • Main colony often outside on tree stumps, dead tree, firewood pile, or fence post
  • Consist of extensive networks of galleries usually begun in areas of wood, soft from decay
  • May contain several thousand individuals; indoor nests may be satellite colonies of a larger nest outdoors
  • Up to 20 satellite colonies can be associated with main colony that contains the queen(s)
  • Indoor colonies always associated with moisture and may occur in hollow doors, window or door frames, or the subfloor

See also, carpenter ant quick management tips.

For more information, see the Carpenter Ants Pest Note.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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