Worker size varies between 1/8″ to 1/2” long. The queen can grow up to 5/8” long.
The common western species is dull black with reddish legs and golden hairs covering the abdomen. Other species are black, a combination of red and black or completely red or brown. Carpenter ants are larger than most ants. They can grow up to an inch long. Carpenter ant queens have large front wings.
Common places to find bug
Look for piles of sawdust-like shavings or some bits of insulation and insect parts. Listen for rustling sounds within the walls. Watch for forage trail outside, especially during the hours of 10:00 am to 2:00 p.m. Check attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Check wires and pipes. They are often located in moist areas and in wooden structures and stumps.
A carpenter ant colony is started by a single queen. The nest does not have to be in wood. It can be in the soil or under rocks. The queen’s first set of eggs hatch into small workers called minims. These small workers feed the queen and as more eggs are produced, the young grow into larger workers, called majors. These larger workers can be from 1/4 to 5/8 inch in length. When the colony is six to ten years old, and contains more than 2,000 workers, it will branch out to form satellite colonies. Satellite colonies can be in the same tree or in a nearby tree or structure. They will have all of the common life stages, with the exception of eggs and a queen.
An older, established colony will produce winged males and females that will fly out to begin new colonies. These are called alates. This is the same term used to described termites with wings. The alate females can be quite large, measuring up to 3/4 inch, while the males are generally less than 1/2 inch. This usually occurs in the late spring or early summer.