Along with cockroaches and flies, ants are the most common insect pests of homes in Maine. Some of the most commonly controlled ant pest species in homes include black carpenter ants, pavement ants, odorous house ants and Pharaoh ants. It is not uncommon for homeowners in Maine to find relatively large sized ants indoors where they often make their way into kitchens to locate and gather food crumbs. In some cases, these large ants will even invade pantries and kitchen cupboards in an effort to feed on stored foods. These large ants belong to the Camponotus genus, and two species are common household pests in Maine. These two species are known as Camponotus pennsylvanicus and C. ferrugineus, but they are more commonly known as “black carpenter ants,” and “red carpenter ants,” respectively.

Carpenter ants get their name from their habit of nesting in moist and decaying wood, such as logs, fallen branches, stumps, and unfortunately, woodwork in homes, particularly structural lumber. Pest control professionals in Maine claim that carpenter ants are the most commonly controlled ant pests in the state where they will readily nest within any moist outdoor or indoor area, such as wall voids, beneath sinks, around pipe leaks, and around eaves where ice dams form. When these ants enter wall voids, they sometimes excavate nesting tunnels within structural wood members, resulting in costly damage. They also nest in wood window sills, wood door frames, and sill plates around foundations.

When it comes to nesting sites, moist wood is most important for the queen and her eggs, as queens need moisture for egg laying, and eggs and larvae need moisture to develop properly. Workers also need moisture, but they are not as dependent on moisture as queens and her offspring. Queens and eggs always remain within the original “parent nest,” while workers establish “satellite nests” elsewhere, such as within homes. It is commonly believed that carpenter ants always establish satellite nests within moist wood, but in reality, they often find the moisture content within wall voids to be sufficient for establishing satellite nests, so they do not always need to expend their energy excavating nests within wood. This also means that workers are able to nest within woodwork that is far less moist than the wood that queens and her offspring inhabit.

Have you ever experienced a carpenter ant infestation?