Carpenter ants are well known for their habit of infesting structural wood within homes. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not consume wood; instead, carpenter ants use their strong mandibles solely to excavate nesting galleries within structural wood, causing infested lumber to weaken and possibly snap under pressure. The most destructive species of carpenter ant in the US, the black carpenter ant, is abundant throughout the eastern US, including Georgia. This species is large in size, and dull to shiny black with yellow abdominal hairs. Another destructive species found in Georgia, the Florida carpenter ant, can be recognized for its large size, its dark red head and thorax, and its shiny black abdomen. Pest management professionals and entomologists working for the University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension consider the black carpenter ant and the Florida carpenter ant to be the only two economically significant carpenter ant species inhabiting Georgia.
While carpenter ants frequently infest structural wood, finding them foraging within a home or infesting kitchen cupboards does not necessarily mean that they have colonized structural wood in the home. In many cases, carpenter ants invade homes from nests located in natural wood sources located outdoors, such as tree stumps and logs. In Georgia, carpenter ants become active during March or April and they become largely inactive by the arrival of fall. During the winter, carpenter ants hibernate within nests located in natural wood sources as well as indoor structural wood. Carpenter ants are most abundant in residential areas where mature hardwood trees are abundant. This makes older homes in well established suburban areas of Georgia particularly vulnerable to carpenter ant infestations.
Black carpenter ants establish nests almost exclusively within hardwood trees that contain tree hollows. While Florida carpenter ants also nest within mature hardwood trees, they frequently nest within loose wood located on the ground as well. Both black carpenter ants and Florida carpenter ants are known for accessing structural wood by traversing tree limbs that make contact with homes. In Georgia, Florida carpenter ants are most prevalent in the south, and they become progressively less prevalent toward the north, while black carpenter ants are well distributed throughout the state.
Have you ever experienced carpenter ant pest issues within your home? If you have, did the ant pests establish a nest within finished wood located within your home or on the exterior walls of your home?