Where Do Carpenter Ants Live?

Where Do Carpenter Ants Live?

Carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) are black ants of an unusually large size that live all over the world. They get their name because they chew through wood to construct tunnels (called galleries) for their nests.

There are over 1,000 species of carpenter ants that can be found globally. In the United States, 60 species can be found.

These ants have made their way throughout the planet because of how easy it is for them to find housing and food. Carpenter ants eat a wide variety of plant and animal material, and they can make their nests in almost any kind of damp wooden environment. They’re particularly likely to live in forests.

Carpenter ants become pests when they invade structures, such as your home, and begin establishing their colonies. Of all the carpenter ants that exist, around 24 species are now linked to causing structural damage or becoming nuisance pests. Of those, there are four of particular importance in the United States:

  1. Camponotus pennsylvanicus
  2. Camponotus modoc
  3. Camponotus floridanus
  4. Camponotus vicinus

Fortunately, you don’t need to know which species has invaded your home in order to get help from Joshua’s Pest Control. Our friendly experts will come out to your home, perform an inspection, and then set up a plan for getting rid of these pests for you.

A close up of a black ant


Carpenter ants are members of the genus Camponotus. These wood-loving insects got their name because they excavate wood to make their nests. They chew away at wooded beams, trees, branches, or other wooden structures to create tunnels. Then, those tunnels are woven together into galleries where they can nest and grow their colonies.

To recognize a carpenter ant, first remember that their colors can vary. Most are black, but there are some species that are red or golden.

There are several sizes of carpenter ants depending on the species. Ant size also varies within a species; a carpenter ant’s size corresponds with its place in the colony’s caste system. For example, the minor, media, and major workers are all of different sizes ranging between ¼ inches to ⅝ inches long. Reproductive males are on the larger end of the size rang, and queens can get up to an inch long.

Adult carpenter ants have a body with a head, thorax, and abdomen. They have six legs and a set of antennae with 12 segments. They also have a nodule on their waists called a “node” or “petiole.” This node is rounded and sticks up.

At the very tip of the abdomen, most carpenter ants have a ring of hairs. This ring is partially what gives the abdomen the appearance of black-on-black stripes.

Queens look very similar to workers, but you may notice that they have wing scars on their thoraxes from having shed their wings after mating. They are also much larger than the other caste members and have ocelli, a kind of single-lens eye.

While most carpenter ants are black, the Florida carpenter ant (C. floridanus) is multicolored; the ant’s body is brownish-black, but its thorax is reddish-brown, and it has lighter brown legs.

A close-up of a black ant


Yes, carpenter ants can be found throughout the world. There are many different species that have made their homes in North America, eastern Asia, and other parts of the world. For example, the Camponotus japonicus, better known as the Japanese carpenter ant, can be found in Japan, China, Korea, Russia, and Mongolia. Other species, such as the Camponotus sericeiventris, or golden carpenter ant, and Camponotus pennsylvanicus, the black carpenter ant, live in South America and the eastern U.S., respectively.

A close-up of a black ant


There are many places where carpenter ants live in the U.S. Some of the common species include:


Where does it live?
Camponotus pennsylvanicus is found in the central and eastern U.S. Also known as the black carpenter ant, this species is found in parts of eastern Canada as well.

What does it look like?
As its common name implies, this carpenter ant is black with black banding and golden hairs on its abdomen.


Where does it live?
Camponotus americanus is primarily located in central and eastern parts of the United States, including Florida and other southern states.
This species is unique because it tends to nest in soil, an unusual location for carpenter ants.

What does it look like?
These ants are primarily dark reddish-brown. They may have lighter brown stripes across the abdomen and lighter reddish-brown legs.


Where does it live?
Camponotus herculeanus is spread all over the northern hemisphere. You’ll normally find it in mountainous regions and in the northern parts of the U.S.

What does it look like?
This ant is darkly colored with a primarily black body and some banding on its abdomen. The thorax and legs look a little bit dark red or dark brown.


Where does it live?
The Florida carpenter ant, Camponotus floridanus, makes its primary home in Florida and in bordering states.

C. floridanus will live in rotten or pithy wood, but it likes to find spots that are already voids. It excavates only soft materials.

What does it look like?
The Florida carpenter ant is bi-colored, red and black.


Where does it live?
Sharing the same common name as the species above, Camponotus tortuganus also makes its primary home in Florida, and you’re most likely to see it in the central or lower parts of the state.

Both types of Florida carpenter ants tend to be opportunists. They will make their homes in open tree holes or existing voids.

What does it look like?
C. tortuganus is also brownish red with a blackish abdomen. They have lighter brown-colored legs and some color variance on the abdomen (a bit of tan on black).


Where does it live?
Camponotus vicinus lives all over the U.S., but it’s most common in Montana, North Dakota, and other states in that region.

It usually lives under rocks or ground cover items. This carpenter ant also tends to choose preexisting cavities for its nesting chambers.

What does it look like?
This ant has a black head and abdomen, but it has a reddish-colored torso with reddish legs.


Where does it live?
Camponotus chromaiodes (common name: red carpenter ant) is commonly found in Mississippi and Alabama.

What does it look like?
This carpenter ant is primarily a dark reddish-black, but it stands apart because it has a bright reddish look to the top of its abdomen. The thorax is primarily dark reddish-black, and the legs have an almost ombre red-to-black appearance.


Where does it live?
Camponotus modoc is most often found in the western and southwestern states.

What does it look like?
This carpenter ant is nearly solid black, and it has some golden hairs on its body.


Where does it live?
Camponotus noveboracensis is found in New York and the eastern U.S., and it primarily lives in wet wooded areas, such as blogs and wetlands. This species is better known as the New York carpenter ant.

What does it look like?
This carpenter ant is primarily dark red with a bright red torso


Where does it live?
Camponotus subbarbatus (bumblebee carpenter ant) lives in the southeastern parts of the U.S. as well as in the Atlantic coastal region. It is sometimes found in the Midwest as well.

What does it look like?
Camponotus subbarbatus is also called the bumblebee carpenter ant because of its striped abdomen.

A broken wood with a broken piece of wood


In the wild, the natural habitat of the carpenter ant is any kind of forest. They usually nest in dead, decaying wood, so you’ll find them in:

  • Trees
  • Logs
  • Dead branches
  • Stumps

They’ll also build their nests in materials that have started to break down due to moisture or water damage. For example, if you have a leaky pipe behind your sink that damages your house’s foundation, you may find carpenter ants chewing away at the damaged wood.

Why? Moist, damaged wood is soft enough for carpenter ants to chew through. That being said, they are strong chewers and can make homes in dry wood as well.

The original parent colony must be in a place with moisture. Some common places that might work inside your home include:

  • Near washing machines or dishwashers that have leaked
  • In attics where there was a water leak
  • Around toilets
  • In wooden siding that may be damp
  • Behind or around bathtubs
  • In or around poorly sealed doors or window frames
  • In wall voids

If they can, carpenter ants will continue to make their satellite colonies (the colonies that branch out from the main colony) in moist areas. However, since ants will travel between colonies, the satellite colonies can be built in drier conditions. These colonies do not contain eggs, only larvae, pupae, and workers, so they don’t need to have as much moisture as the parent colony does.

A group of black ants on a wall


If you want to avoid having carpenter ants inside your home, you need to take steps to dry out your house and avoid damp wood.

Another thing to do is to make sure your windows and doors stay shut or sealed if you see any swarms outside. If a winged carpenter ant does get inside and you see it, try to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

If you identify signs of carpenter ants, like rustling in the walls or holes in wood with sawdust-like debris around them, don’t put off taking care of it. It’s important to start immediate remediation efforts so you can stop or prevent damage to your home.


At Joshua’s Pest Control, our experts are here to help you get rid of pests large and small. If you think that there are carpenter ants around or inside your home, give us a call. With our pet- and family-friendly treatments, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your home is secure.