The Difference Between Carpenter Ants & Regular Ants

Carpenter ants are one of the more popular ants in the world, but no ant stands above your regular species of black ant. But do you know what makes the carpenter ant any different from your standard run-of-the-mill ant? You might just be curious, or you may be a homeowner with an entire army of ants marching through your kitchen. Regardless of why you want to know, the team at Earthwise Pest Management can provide clarity on regular ants vs. carpenter ants and help you figure out how to deal with them! Knowing what ant is ravaging your home can give residential pest control specialists a clear idea of how to get rid of these ants — saving you from a ton of trouble.

Every kind of ant requires a different type of extermination, and every type of ant causes different damage. The more information your pest control company has about the ants you are dealing with, the more quickly they can get rid of them and find out what damage they’ve caused. So let’s take a look at carpenter ants and black ants, what separates the two, and how you can keep them away for good!

Regular Ants

Also known as black ants, these pests usually are about 0.2 inches in length. However, the queen ant would measure about twice that length. For the most part, these ants will not nest in homes since they are so content staying in the soil, at the base of walls, and under paving slabs. As a colony, they can get extremely large and include anywhere from 4,000 to 7,000 individual ants with just one queen.

These nests are very easy to detect because they nest in mounds created in the earth. Most children know exactly what we’re talking about because you’ve probably come across them growing up (and were told not to step in them!). While these ants may not build their house inside, that does not mean they won’t come into your home searching for food. When this happens, they will remain feasting on a food source until it’s gone. This may seem frustrating, but wait until you see what carpenter ants can do to your home!

Carpenter Ants

You might be surprised to learn that there are ten known species of carpenter ants. The most notable ones have a black hue, but others are more of a reddish-orange color. As mentioned, the carpenter ant is much larger, measuring between ¼ and ½ inches long. While black ants live outside, carpenter ants prefer to live indoors. These pests live inside the wood that makes up your home’s infrastructure and slowly but surely cause severe damage. Using their very sharp mandibles, they bite into the wood and burrow deeply into the openings, causing more structural damage than you’d think a tiny ant can do.

Regular Ants vs. Carpenter Ant Characteristics

Both of these ants resemble each other in many ways, but a few significant characteristics separate them. One of the major differences is the behaviors between regular ants vs. carpenter ants. Carpenter ants will live within your walls and wooden objects, making them extremely difficult to locate. Regular ants simply search for food, making them much easier to discover on their journey through your home. Additionally, all carpenter ants have wings, while only a few sets of regular black ants will contain a set of wings (and they’ll be a single set). 

Here are some other differences that separate regular ants vs. carpenter ants. 

Regular Ants

  • Even thorax
  • Indentation in the thorax
  • Will go inside to look for food but settle outdoors
  • Their nests are large dome-shaped mounds
  • Prefer to eat insects

Carpenter Ants

  • Evenly rounded thorax
  • Prefer to create their homes in moist wood, but dry wood will work as well
  • Multiple nesting sites
  • Satellite colonies indoors
  • Highly destructive and can completely hollow out the wood they infest.

Regular Ants vs. Carpenter Ants — What Differences Will I See?

In general, carpenter ants tend to be much bigger than regular ants. This means you should be able to see the different sections of the body of a carpenter ant, whereas you would have a hard time seeing them on a regular ant. Additionally, the shapes of the bodies are slightly different. 

The head of a carpenter ant is the shape of a heart, while the head of a regular ant is much more rounded. Carpenter ants can also be various colors like black, brown, red, or a combination of them all. Damage caused by carpenter ants may also feel similar to termite damage, so if you see large ants running around and extensive damage to the wood around your home, you’re probably not dealing with regular ants. If you’re still in doubt, or dealing with another entirely different species of ant in your home, contact your local pest control specialists for more information.

How Do I Control Them?

Getting rid of black ants and their nests is much easier than it is to get rid of carpenter ants. The most effective way to handle a carpenter ant infestation is to find the nesting site, which can be difficult for inexperienced homeowners. Most likely, it will take a professional pest control team to locate the site and get rid of these types of ants. But there are a few things you can still do to control these ants. 

Regular Ants

When it comes to aspects of control, the battle of regular ants vs. carpenter ants isn’t even a close one. Regular ants are much easier to control because they are much easier to find. Mounds stand out from the surface, and all you have to do is sprinkle ant-killing granules into the ground or pour hot water into the mount to remove the population of ants for good.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants, on the other hand, will take a bit more effort to control. If you’re lucky enough to find the nesting site (which, as we said, can be hard to locate), insecticides with pyrethroids or boric acid can kill the ants. Insecticide dust can treat ant nests within walls and wood, but odds are you’ll be better off calling on the professionals for help.

Preventing Infestations

Any good exterminator will tell you that prevention is the first step to keeping ants away, regardless of whether you’re battling regular ants or carpenter ants. So how do you prevent both carpenter and regular ants from finding your home habitable? 

Start by keeping your home clean. You attract what you give out, and a filthy home will look fantastic to these ants. Clean up spills on time and vacuum carpets, corners, and crevices regularly. You can also consider natural repellents like lemon, vinegar, salt, and cinnamon. Lastly, repair any cracks or damages around your home, especially ones that are ground level. These entryways give ants access to the depths of your home, so make sure everything is sealed tight.

In the Battle of Regular Ants vs. Carpenter Ants, You Need Professional Help — So Turn to Earthwise Pest Management

Ant infestations are never something you want to have to deal with, but unfortunately, those little pests find their way into any crack and crevice. But that doesn’t mean you have to let them do what they want. Removing those pests starts when you know what you’re fighting against. So use our tips to identify carpenter ants vs. ants, and you’ll be well on your way to keeping those insects away for good.

If you discover an ant infestation in your home and want to solve it quickly and efficiently, contact Earthwise Pest Management today! We can help get your Sacramento home back to being pest-free with our ant removal services, so give us a call today and get your home inspected to begin the pest control process!