Like most indoor ant pests, carpenter ants are capable of establishing multiple nests within homes and buildings. However, unlike most indoor ant pests, some carpenter ant pest species are known for excavating nesting galleries within moist structural wood components. In Georgia, the two primary carpenter ant pest species that nest within woodwork are commonly known as black carpenter ants (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) and Florida carpenter ants (C. flordinus). Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not consume the wood they excavate, but the tunnels they carve into structural wood components are similar in appearance to those made by termites. Naturally, this nesting behavior can result in serious structural damage that may require costly repairs.
More than a dozen carpenter ant pest species can be found throughout the US, but the black carpenter ant is the most common and destructive of them all. According to a recent nationwide survey of pest management professionals, carpenter ants were the most commonly controlled ant pests within homes during the 2016 year. This survey also revealed that carpenter ants were the second most commonly controlled wood-destroying insect pests within homes after the eastern subterranean termite. In Georgia, Florida carpenter ants are most prevalent in the southernmost areas of the state, while black carpenter ants are most prevalent in the central and northern parts of the state.
Carpenter ant colonies are initiated within moist outdoor wood sources by reproductive swarmers known as alates. The female alate survives and goes on to become the queen of a new colony, and as colonies grow, workers begin to forage as far as 100 feet away from the “parent nest.” While foraging, workers expand the colony’s foraging range by establishing “satellite nests.” The queen and her eggs always remain in the parent nest where the relative humidity is maintained at 12 to 15 percent to meet their biological needs. Workers are not as reliant on moist conditions in order to survive, which allows them to establish nests within relatively dry indoor areas, such as beneath insulation, in hollow doors, in wall voids, in wooden window sills, in attics and in ceiling voids. It is a common misconception that carpenter ant workers can only establish satellite nests within moist wood, and despite what some sources may claim, it is actually quite common for carpenter ants to infest homes where moisture levels are normal.
Have you ever encountered carpenter ant workers within your home?