Carpenter ants belong to the Camponotus genus, and 14 carpenter ant species can be found in Texas, several of which are known pests of homes. In the natural environment, reproductive carpenter ants establish nests within moist and decaying trees. While carpenter ants excavate tunnels within natural and finished woods, they do not eat wood, unlike termites. Worker ants regularly leave the “parent nest,” in order to forage, and they are known for traveling more than 60 feet from their nests in order to obtain food for their nestmates. Occasionally, a group of foraging workers establish “satellite nests” some distance from the original parent nest.
Satellite nests are often established within wood, but they are also found within soil on occasion. Carpenter ant pest issues usually involve workers entering homes to forage from outdoor nests, but it is also common for workers to establish indoor nesting sites. Indoor nests are almost always located in concealed areas where they cannot be easily found, such as wall voids, behind baseboards, and beneath floorboards. Sometimes, workers establish nests within moist structural wood within homes, particularly within wall voids, but as long as they secure moist nesting conditions, they may not go to the trouble of excavating nests within woodwork.
In addition to invading homes to obtain food, residents of Bexar County often report carpenter ant pest issues within homes during bouts of rainfall. The black carpenter ant is the most destructive carpenter ant species in the US, and it is known for establishing multiple satellite nests within homes. While this species can be found in Bexar County, the black carpenter ant is not a household pest in Texas; instead, they remain within wooded areas. The two most common and troublesome carpenter ant species that invade Bexar County homes, C. rasillis and C. sayi, are not as destructive as black carpenter ants, and they generally don’t establish more than two indoor nesting sites, if any. Carpenter ant infestations in Texas usually start when workers enter homes by traveling along tree branches that make contact with the exterior walls of structures. These ant pests are also known for entering homes by traveling along power lines that lead into homes through small openings on exterior walls. Carpenter ants may establish nests with moist wooden window sills, door frames, or within damp structural wood located in bathroom or kitchen wall voids or floor voids. Carpenter ant infestations are well controlled with baiting systems.
Have you ever found unusually large sized ants within your home?