Ants are well known and recognized around the world. Carpenter ants (Camponotus ferrugineus) are relatively large (queens reach .75 inch long; workers, .25 - .5 inch long) and may be red, brown or black in coloring. They are found around old or dead wood in which they use their chewing mouth parts to create a series of tunnels, called galleries, to make nests. Natural setting habitats include live and dead trees, rotting logs, and stumps. Manmade habitats include telephone poles, houses and other man-made wooden structures. They may make large numbers of tunnels in a home and surrounding soil before they are ever noticed and causing extensive damage to home and property. They are commonly found in porches, window sills and roofs. However they rarely cause any major structural damage unless the colony is allowed to exist for a number of years. Carpenter ants are credited with doing $750 million worth of damage every year in America. The wood is used as a nesting site only. Unlike termites, they do not eat the wood. Their diet consists of dead and live insects, fruit juice, aphid honeydew, and water and food scraps in homes.
Their social structure within the ant colony is similar to the honey bee. There is a single queen, some males and worker female ants that do most of the work. A typical ant colony may include up to 2,000 - 3,000 worker ants. It is common knowledge that ants are very strong. An ant can lift fifty time its own weight, which is the same as a human being pulling a ten-ton trailer!
In the spring, adult carpenter ants, with wings, swarm from the colony. Their only job is to breed. Shortly afterward, the queen loses her wings and she looks for a nesting site in wood or soil where she can begin to lay her eggs. The worker ants that hatch are responsible for taking care of the queen, getting food, maintaining the colony and caring for the young. The life cycle of carpenter ants is sixty-five days. New "swarmers" are not produced for three to six years and new "satellite" colonies are formed.