The black carpenter ant is about the only carpenter ant you will find in Virginia. They are polymorphic (having many different sizes) and can be from a 1/8” up to 1/2" with queens being even bigger, up to 5/8”. However, they are generally larger than their relatives, household ants. They are black with a smooth evenly rounded thorax, having a single node on the pedicle. They do not have a stinger, but can bite and vomit stomach acid on you.
Carpenter ants can do damage inside of a home. Their galleries in homes are often a secondary or “satellite” location with the main colony outside. They prefer previously damaged wood, but will excavate just about anywhere after galleries have been established. Their damage differs from termites in that there are no mud tubes and the wood is smooth looking like it was sandpapered. Carpenter ants do not eat wood, they only chew it up and spit it out. Often you can locate galleries by these “frass” piles. You can identify carpenter ant frass piles because it will often have bits and pieces of ants in it.
It is important to be aware of the signs so you can be best prepared to recognize any possible infestations. Controlling moisture in and around your home is key. Make sure there is good drainage away from the house. Downspouts and splash blocks are working and in good condition. Keep trim and caulking tight, sealing any gaps as they happen. Replace wooden fence posts before they rot and remove old tree stumps from yard. If you see or think you might have a carpenter ant problem, we recommend making an appointment with us so we can send one of our BioShield technicians to inspect your home.