Carpenter Ants vs Black Ants

Carpenter ants and black ants are both widely found and common in North America. However, black ants are seen in a few parts of North America and predominantly in Asia and Europe. The main difference between the two is the size. Carpenter species are three times bigger than black ants, so this gives you one characteristic to differentiate the two.

Is Any Black Ant Considered a Carpenter Ant?

Most people assume that any black ants they see in their homes are considered carpenter ants. Well, they have their differences and knowing these different characteristics will help you determine which one is infesting your home and how to respond to the infestation.


Black Ants

Black ants are black with worker ants measuring .2 inches and the queen is about .4 inches long. They are also monogamous, which means they have only one queen for every colony.

Their colony size would usually contain 4,000 to 7,000. Some colonies may even have 15,000.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are often mistaken as black ants because of their dark colour. Their colour is reddish-brown or has a hint of maroon.

When it comes to their colony size, it ranges from 2,000 to about 3,000 workers. Their length can be almost an inch, which is why they are considered among the biggest ant species.

How Do You Know if You Have Black Ants or Carpenter Ants?

Carpenter ants vs black ants, how do you know which species of ants in your home or property is lurking? One way to know the type of ant species lurking around your home is by understanding their habitat.

Carpenter Ant Habitat

Carpenter ants live indoors and outdoors. Their nest is usually in hollow, decaying, moist wood. They chew into the timber to carve tunnels where they will travel and nest.


Because they carve tunnels in wood, they are considered pests due to the damages they do to a property. Target areas of these pests include rood eaves, under windows, porches, and decks. They leave sawdust on the entrances of the tunnels that they exploit just like termites.

However, unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat wood. Like most ants, their typical meal consists of leftover food crumbs or pet food.

Black Ant Habitat

With black ants, their nests are made in the soil. This means that you will most likely find their nests in lawns, the base of walls, and under paving slabs.


They can travel to far places just to search for food, which results in these ants encroaching into homes. However, the only difference they have from carpenter ants is that they do not make a nest inside a house or any structure.

How to Identify a Carpenter Ant Infestation from a Black Ant Infestation

Just because you found a dark-coloured ant inside your home does not mean that you can immediately tell that you have a black ant infestation or carpenter ant infestation. You need to understand the damage and behaviour of black ants and carpenter ants to distinguish which species is on your property.

Damages and Behaviour of Carpenter Ants

When your home has carpenter ants, they will most likely find nearby woodland where there are dead trees. Carpenter ants prefer damp forest floors that are perfect places to find hollow and decaying moist wood.

Once they find a suitable spot, the queen will start laying eggs and hatch larvae. The queen will feed them until they grow in number when they can start foraging and feeding each other. She will continue reproducing until their colony is full. A new queen will arise and then repeat the cycle in another cycle.

 Some of the signs that there is an infestation are the following:

  • Ants, alive or dead

  • Sawdust piles of frass

Tap walls near areas with humid or damp conditions as these places are suitable living areas for these ants. Rustling sound inside the walls is a sign that you have disturbed these ants.


Damages and Behaviour of Black Ants

Unlike carpenter ants, black ants build their nests outdoors and only accesses homes when searching for food. They will most likely go for carbohydrates such as bread and sweet foodstuff. You will most likely find more ants accessing your home once they can go back to their nest and they left their pheromone trail.

Hotter months are when mating flights are done by male and female winged ants. Through weather conditions tell when these ants emerge, they will often have several nests in the same area at the same time.

Males die after mating. Females will then shed their wings and find a new place to start their colonies. These new places are when they will raise their offspring.

Some signs of infestation by black ants are:

  • Numerous ants searching for food in your home.

  • Ants entering or going out of cracks and gaps in walls.

  • Following their trail will lead you to an underground nest just outside your property.


Pest Control Methods to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants?

One of the pest control methods that you can do to get rid of carpenter ants is using an ant killer directly at their colony. You can use a spray or an ant killer that you can apply directly to the colony you found.

If the infestation is worst than you expected, you can choose to contact a pest control specialist and let them handle the problem.

Below are some products we recommend for ant control:

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