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CARPENTER ANTS (Featured pages )

    Identification and life cycle                        Common questions and answers
   Getting rid of Carpenter Ants                     Digital microscope photos 
   Ant Nest Photos

Disclaimer:  This web page was compiled by a pest management professional, not an entomologist.  As a result, some of the terms used may not be accurate according to scientific terms of reference. Our objective is to provide basic and interesting information for the average homeowner. 

Carpenter Ant:  Species: Vicinus: Reproductive Female (future queen)
The winged females  emerge from nests in the spring.  They will try to mate then seek a wet piece of wood to establish a new nest.  She will then pull off her wings and burrow into the wood where she will spend the rest of her life (15 to 20 years) laying eggs.  She has enough food stored in her body, including the wing muscles, to feed her first babies until they are mature and can bring back food for her and the next batch of newborns. The blue lines in the background are spaced 1/4 inch.  This ant is about 3/4 of an inch long, nose to wing tips.  She was captured shortly after emerging from a nest in the ceiling of a home, April 30, 2001. She was alive while modeling for this photo and would not stay in the centre of the lens. (Note: one of her antennas is missing) 
            Magnification: approximately 10 times
winged carpenter ant
Like many of her sisters, this potential queen died while trying to escape from the interior of a home near a window.  Winged ants can not fly well and they usually move towards outside light.  Note the smoothly rounded thorax (mid section) and the single node or spike between the two body segments. The legs are a rusty red color.  Workers in a nest will have similar characteristics but can be much smaller.  There are usually 5 different sizes of ants in a carpenter ant nest.    
                   
  Magnification: approximately 10 times
carpenter ant reporductive female
Reproductive males with wings emerge from nests in the spring to mate with the future queens.  Once they have fertilized a queen, they all die, probably of starvation.  The males do no work and are often pushed out of the nest by female workers at mating time.  Males are smaller than reproductive females.  The abdomen is long and slender.  The head quite small and the mandibles are very small.  They can not chew  wood.  They are harmless to the structure of a home but are usually the worst nuisance because so many of them are obvious flying toward windows during mating season. Their presence inside a home indicates there is at least one well established nest in the structure. 
                    
Magnification: approximately 13 times           
reproductive male carpenter ant
Carpenter ants have a single node (abdominal pedicel) between the thorax and abdomen. It is quite visible using a magnifying glass.                                

             Magnification: approximately 60 times  

                                                                             

carpenter ant characteristic node
Powerful mandibles are capable of ripping out wood fibers in the process of making tunnels for a nest.
Sexy Eyes.....If you study these girls long enough you can eventually get to love them. 
They are very dedicated mothers and will lay about 70,000 eggs during their lifetime of 15 to 20 years. Once the first small brood is old enough to gather food, the queen does nothing but lay eggs. She never leaves her nest. When the nest gets too crowded, the workers will carry larvae to a new satellite nest where they are fed and cared for until they develop into adults.        
                     Magnification: approximately 60 times  
microscope carpenter ant head
.........and da hip bone's connected to da leg bone. 

All  6 legs on an ant are connected closely to an area at the rear of the thorax (mid section)  Note the rusty red color, typical on the mid section of the Vicinus species.     
                 Magnification: approximately 60 times  

ant leg segments
Hairs on the abdomen are another distinctive characteristics of carpenter ants. 

 

                      Magnification: approximately 60 times  

hairy ant abdomen
A distinguishing characteristic of ants is the obvious antennae elbow.

                Magnification: approximately 60 times  

ant antenna with elbow
Different species of ants can be identified by the number of antennae segments.




                 Magnification: approximately 60 times  

ant antenna segments
The antennae of ants are sense organs having the function of touch and smell.   They will often follow the pheromone trail laid out by other ants by touching their antennae to the surface they are crawling on.    If the antennae becomes contaminated with a foreign substance such as a pesticide,  they will attempt to clean them with their front legs.  Ants leaving nests in a building that has had  a pest control treatment are often observed performing this grooming behavior.                                                                                                                                                          ant antenna club tip

Carpenter Ant Nest

A Modoc species moving larvae in a newly exposed nest.  Note the various sizes of larvae and pupae. 
The developing ant is visible through the opaque skin of the larvae.

This photo was taken using a digital camera with macro lens, not our digital microscope.  For more nest photos click here.

Workers Transferring food: http://www.myrmecos.net/images/CamMod4.html

ant larvae and pupae

The information above is  copied with permission from the
P.C.S. Gulf Islands
web site

 Copywrite protected 2003.
Use of this material for any purpose is prohibited without the written permission of P.C.S. Gulf Islands. 
We welcome enquiries from students and teachers. 

 
Credits:
The thumbnail photos below are copied from  http://www.myrmecos.net .  This excellent web site is published by Alex Wild, Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis.   Mr. Wild has generously shared hundreds of his high quality insect photographs  in a well organized and easy to navigate format. Please visit this non commercial web site.

Click on any of the thumbnail photos below for a larger view.  

subgenus Camponotus 
Camponotus americanus

Camponotus americanus

Camponotus laevigatus

Camponotus laevigatus

Camponotus modoc

Camponotus modoc

Camponotus modoc

Camponotus laevigatus & Camponotus modoc

Camponotus noveboracensis

Camponotus noveboracensis

Camponotus noveboracensis

Camponotus pennsylvanicus

Camponotus pennsylvanicus

Camponotus pennsylvanicus

Camponotus quercicola

Camponotus quercicola

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subgenus Myrmaphaenus 

Camponotus blandus complex sp.

Camponotus blandus complex sp.

Camponotus blandus complex sp.

Camponotus blandus complex sp.

Camponotus blandus complex sp.

Camponotus blandus complex sp.

Camponotus blandus complex sp.

Camponotus leydigi

Camponotus personatus

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subgenus Myrmentoma

Camponotus essigi

Camponotus essigi

Camponotus essigi

Camponotus essigi

Camponotus hyatti

Camponotus hyatti

Camponotus hyatti

Camponotus hyatti

Camponotus hyatti

Camponotus hyatti

Camponotus nearcticus

Camponotus nearcticus

Camponotus nearcticus

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subgenus Myrmepomis 

Camponotus sericeiventris

Camponotus sericeiventris

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subgenus Myrmobrachys 

Camponotus senex

Camponotus senex

Camponotus senex

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subgenus Myrmomalis 

Camponotus depressus

Camponotus depressus

Camponotus depressus

Camponotus depressus

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subgenus Myrmopiromis

Camponotus niveosetosus

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subgenus Myrmosphincta 

Camponotus sexguttatus

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subgenus Myrmothrix 

Camponotus atriceps

Camponotus atriceps

Camponotus cingulatus

Camponotus renggeri

Camponotus rufipes

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subgenus Tanaemyrmex 

Camponotus melanoticus

Camponotus melanoticus

Camponotus semitestaceus

Camponotus semitestaceus

Camponotus semitestaceus

Camponotus semitestaceus

Camponotus semitestaceus

Camponotus punctulatus complex sp.

Camponotus punctulatus complex sp.

Camponotus punctulatus complex sp.

Camponotus vicinus

Camponotus vicinus

Camponotus vicinus

Camponotus vicinus

Camponotus vicinus

Camponotus vicinus

Camponotus sp. nr. vicinus

Camponotus sp. nr. vicinus

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CARPENTER ANTS (Featured pages )

       Identification and life cycle                         Common questions and answers
       Getting rid of Carpenter Ants                     Digital microscope photos 
       Ant Nest Photos



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