the importance of checking tree around your home during a carpenter ant infestation

What is The Difference between Carpenter Ants and Black Ants

While ants in your home are unsightly, some species such as the carpenter ant pose a structural threat to your house. Many homeowners confuse carpenter ants with common black ants although there are many discernable differences between the two. Identifying the specific kind of ant you are dealing with is the first step towards effective pest control Toronto.

Difference Between Carpenter Ants and Black Ants

Identifying Carpenter Ant vs Black Ant

The black ant is just that; black while the carpenter ant can vary in colour between black, red, maroon, brown or some combination of these colours.

The carpenter ant is also significantly larger than the common black ant. The former is roughly 3 times larger. For perspective, the queen in a common black ant colony measures at about 10 mm while a typical carpenter ant worker easily reaches 12 mm. Generally speaking, the queen is the largest ant in the colony and a worker the smallest.

The carpenter ant also has a heart-shaped head which is a distinctive feature on this species of ant. The head has elbowed antennas and large jaws.

Furthermore, the carpenter ant workers have rounded thorax while the common black ant thorax is unevenly shaped. The petiole, which is the part that joins the abdomen and thorax, has a single segment on the carpenter ant while the common black ant may have two.

Reproductive carpenter ants have two sets of wings where the back wings are shorter than the front ones. This is often not the case with black ants. Carpenter ants do not have stingers.

Finally, one major clue on whether you are dealing with carpenter ants or black ants is the habitat. Black ants do not create nests indoors and simply come into the house to forage for food. If you see a procession of ants going in and out of your home, you are most probably dealing with common black ants. Carpenter ants, on the other hand, are notorious for creating nests indoors especially in wood. If you are sure you have a colony of ants nesting in the house, there is a high probability that it is the carpenter variety.

Black Garden Ant VS Carpenter Ant

  Black Garden Ant Carpenter Ant
Appearance 3 – 5mm in length, with queens <15mm long.

Black or dark brow in colour.

Winged adults during mating season.

6 – 12mm in length, with queens <25mm long.

Black, dark brown, reddish, or yellow in colour.

Winged adults during mating season.

Diet Nectar, small insects, and honeydew (sweet aphid secretion). Sugary foods. Insects and honeydew. Sugary and protein-rich foods.
Habitat Outdoors in the soil.

Lawns, patio stones, and at the bases of walls.

Indoors and outdoors in moist, decaying, or hollow wood.

Window frames, decks, and eaves.

Colony Size 4,000 – 7,000 workers 2,000 – 3,000 workers
Seasonality Summer Spring – Fall
Signs Appearance of ants in doorways, kitchens, and eating areas near the outside. Appearance of sawdust at the base of infested walls and wooden structures. Swarms of winged ants in the house.
Removal Method Insecticidal spray and bait. Insecticidal spray, bait, and dusting of infested walls.

The most obvious difference between black garden ants and carpenter ants is their size. Carpenter ants are twice the size of garden ants. The second characteristic you are most likely to notice is where these ants choose to nest. Black garden ants may venture into the home in search of food, but they never nest indoors. They nest outside in the soil, whereas carpenter ants burrow into soft wooden structures, like old porches and sheds.

It is important that you identify the ant you are dealing with before you attempt to remove them. These are two different species that require different products. Because carpenter ants dig into walls, you may need to drill a hole in the infested wall and have it treated with an insecticidal powder. Call a local pest control company for help.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

The best option for getting rid of carpenter ants in Toronto is to hire a professional ant exterminator. These ants are resistant to most over-the-counter chemicals.

More importantly, carpenter ants are a huge nuisance for their habit of ‘Budding’ or ‘Satelliting’. Carpenter ants can have multiple queens in a colony while black ants only have one in a single colony. Budding happens when a queen leaves the nest with a few workers and eggs to form a separate colony. This splitting may happen when a colony is disturbed such as by unsuccessful extermination. A failed DIY attempt will simply make your ant problem worse since you are now dealing with multiple colonies.

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