Carpenter Ants Or Black Ants: How To Tell Which Infestation You Have

Beware the carpenter ant infestation! Learn how to spot these destructive pests versus regular ants and how to combat them effectively.

Coleman Spaulding

Published On:

October 13, 2023

Last Updated:

October 13, 2023

Nobody wants to have an ant infestation of any kind. That being said, a carpenter ant infestation can prove extra problematic because of the damage these pests can inflict on your home. Unlike many other ant varieties, which nest underground, carpenter ants build nests by tunneling into wood—including timbers and support beams that help hold your home together.

Below, we’ll provide you with some ways to tell if you have a carpenter ant infestation or an infestation of “regular” black ants.


Do you need help determining what kind of ant infestation your home has? Here are a few things you should know.

“Regular” Black Ants

There are multiple small, dark ant varieties that typically invade homes, including:

Unlike carpenter ants, these ants will not cause property damage, although they can contaminate your food. You’ll most likely find these ants gathering around food sources such as sweets, ripe fruits, grease, carbohydrates, and meat. For the most part, these ants are quite small, ranging in size from 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch long.

Carpenter Ants

The easiest way to tell a carpenter ant from the ants mentioned above is size. Carpenter ants are substantially bigger than other dark ants in American homes, measuring 1/2 to 5/8 of an inch long. While they can be black or brown, carpenter ants can also have some noticeable red coloring, which can help you distinguish them from other ants.

Although carpenter ants nest in wood, they don’t actually eat it as termites do, so you may notice them foraging for honeydew, nectar, and small bugs to eat in your garden. Indoors, they might also raid your kitchen to feed on sweets, grease, and meat.

If carpenter ants have infested your home, you might not see the ants themselves, but you may see evidence of damage. Some warning signs include:

  • Discarded wings from carpenter ant swarmers (flying members of a colony). They’ll have a yellow or brown tint.
  • Little piles of what looks like wood shavings or sawdust around your door jams, window sills, baseboards, crawl space, and other less-visited areas of your home. That “sawdust” is what the carpenter ants have dug out while making tunnels.
  • A crinkling or rustling sound in your walls. This is the sound of carpenter ants chewing.


Do you need help with an ant problem in your home? At Spidexx Pest Control, we provide trusted ant extermination services in Des Moines, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Omaha. Contact us online or give us a call today at (855) 925-3550.

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