What are carpenter ants’ size?

What are carpenter ants’ size?

Carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) are one of the larger ant species in the United States with workers ranging ¼–½ inches long and queens measuring ¾–1 inches in total length. Typically black or red in color, carpenter ants are commonly found in the northeastern U.S. These pests are usually found in dead or decaying wood, which can include moist or damaged wood inside homes.

Carpenter ants may or may not have wings, depending on their colony caste and stage of life. Worker carpenter ants do not have wings. Both male and female flying reproductives—as the name implies—do have wings. Carpenter ant queens, however, drop their wings after mating and will continue living without them long after their winged male counterparts have passed away post-mating season.

As you can tell from their measurements, carpenter ants are fairly large, making them easier to identify than other ants. Generally speaking, if you see an ant in the U.S. that is a half-inch or larger, it’s likely a carpenter ant. Additionally, if you discovered the ant in question amid or within wood, you’re even more likely to be right.

That being said, some ants can look similar to carpenter ants (especially the minor workers), and you may not be sure what you’re looking at when you find an ant in your home. It’s okay if you don’t know—at Joshua’s Pest Control, we’re happy to send our experts to your home and have them identify any invading pests. We’ll get rid of them so you can relax in your space again.


Have you noticed large black ants running around outside your front door or crawling up the side of a tree? If you have, you might have come across carpenter ants. “Carpenter ants” is a phrase used to describe several species of ants that make their tunnels in (typically) moist wood environments. In fact, many of them live in forests or the wilderness where wood is plentiful.

Carpenter ants are large ants that can vary in size based on their species, with many being between ¼ and ½ inches long. Queens are larger, and they can usually get up to an inch long.

Carpenter ants are typically black or a combination of red and black, and they have a tight waist with a petiole. A petiole is a node or nodule that sticks up. From the side, this petiole looks evenly rounded. They have a rounded thorax and even profile.

Interestingly, queens and reproductive males can have wings. These colony members are known as “swarmers” in the spring and summer months when they fly around looking for a mate. It’s not uncommon to see rolling clusters of males trying to mate with a female.

Once they mate, males usually die, and the queens shed their wings. Flying ants can be carpenter ants during the spring or summer mating seasons—-so if you see a large ant flying around, you could be looking at the queen or her partner.

The nice thing about carpenter ants is that you can easily identify them if you know what you’re looking for. Size is the easiest way to tell what you’re looking at, but you can also differentiate ants by their coloration and shape. For example, Camponotus pennsylvanicus has a black, dull-colored body and head. In this species, all the carpenter ants are black, even major and minor workers. Additionally, they may have some yellow and white hairs on their abdomens that create the appearance of light stripes.

Finally, one more thing to know about carpenter ants is that they live in primary and satellite colonies. In older colonies, there can be up to 10,000 individual ants, but younger colonies will have fewer ants.

DO CARPENTER ANTS EAT WOOD? Even though you’re likely to find carpenter ants within wood, they’re not actually feeding on the material. They’re excavating the wood to build tunnels in which they can house their colonies. When these tunnels are in the floor, framing, or siding of a house, structural damage can occur, so it’s important to get rid of these pests quickly if you discover them on your property.



There are over 12 carpenter ant species in the country.

Carpenter ants found in the northeastern United States include:

  • Camponotus pennsylvanicus (also known as the black carpenter ant)
  • Camponotus castaneus
  • Camponotus subbarbatus
  • Camponotus herculeanus
  • Camponotus chromaiodes (also known as the red carpenter ant)
  • Camponotus nearcticus
  • Camponotus noveboracensis
  • Camponotus americanus


Carpenter ants are big ants. They can be up to an inch long (queens) but are usually no longer than ½ inch (workers). Some colony members have wings which can make them appear even larger. The wings don’t extend far past the carpenter ant’s abdomen.

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN CARPENTER ANT SIZE AND CASTE. Carpenter ants’ sizes correlate with the role they play inside a colony. For example, a minor worker is likely to be the smallest adult ant, while the queen is the largest adult ant. Major workers (primary workers) are in between those sizes.



Carpenter ants are large, but they’re not the largest ants in the world. That distinction goes to species of the genus Dinoponera. Largely considered the biggest ants on Earth today, these ants grow 3–4 centimeters long, which is just over 1.5 inches.

These ants are commonly known as giant Amazonian ants or tocandiras. While some people may also refer to these ants as “bullet ants” since they’re similar in size, Dinoponera species are distinct from the Paraponera clavata, the best-known bullet ant.


Two common ants people find around their homes here in the U.S. are pavement ants and odorous house ants. How can you tell the difference between these ants and carpenter ants? Size, habitat, and behavior are key differences.


Also known as Tetramorium spp., pavement ants are extremely common. These small brown or brownish-black ants often come indoors and may start to look for food sources such as sugar, protein-based foods, other insects, and termites. In fact, if you have termites on your property, you may be more likely to see pavement ant activity since they feed on them.

These ants get their name from the places they tend to nest —-pavement-covered surfaces like sidewalks and the edges of roadways. Carpenter ants, on the other hand, look for moist wood in which to nest.

Pavement ants are present in all 50 mainland states. To identify them, look first at the size. Pavement ants are a standard 3 mm in length when they’re workers. They have striations on their heads and thorax, and they have a three-segmented club on their antennae. Carpenter ants are larger, anywhere from a quarter inch to one inch long.

Odorous House Ants

Whenever people ask us about indoor ants that have invaded their home, odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile) are the species we suspect first. Extremely common in the U.S., these ants are usually about ⅛ inches long (much smaller than carpenter ants) and have a brown-to-black appearance.

These ants forage at any time of the day or night, and you’ll find them along deck boards, siding, and door frames. They can get into pet food and will sometimes head to moist areas to nest.

Since these ants can also get into voids and attics—a similarity with carpenter ants—it’s a good idea to get a positive identification for these pests. In addition to size differences, these two ants behave differently: odorous house ants usually come indoors in search of food, while carpenter ants are seeking damp wood in which to nest.

While it may seem tough to figure out what kind of ant you have, the good news is that the experts at Joshua’s Pest Control are trained in exactly that. Whether you have an ant that has invaded the walls of your home or you have nests outside in your walkway, our field experts can identify the intruders and stop them from infiltrating your home.


At Joshua’s Pest Control, we’re here to help you get rid of carpenter ants and reclaim your indoor or outdoor space. Our experts are ready to come out and make sure your home is a comfortable place for you and your loved ones. Give us a call today to set up an inspection or get a free quote, and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.