Michigan is beautiful for a number of reasons.  One of those reasons is its numerous, gorgeous trees.  Trees are everywhere in Michigan; along the freeways, around commercial areas and, most prominently, in residential neighborhoods.  Along with the beauty and serenity of residential trees comes the necessity of pest control.  Pest control in residential areas is a must to protect homeowners from invasive, annoying, and destructive insects and other pests.  One such pest, which is prevalent in Michigan residential neighborhoods, is the carpenter ant.  Carpenter ants, just like many of the trees that house them, thrive in Michigan neighborhoods.  In order to make sure carpenter ants do not thrive in and around your house, you must first identify them.

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Identification

Most people can identify carpenter ants because of their large size; typically between a quarter of an inch to an inch long. While their genus includes over 1,000 species, the black carpenter ant is the most prevalent in Michigan homes.  Identification of carpenter ants is necessary but insufficient to eliminate these pesky critters.  And, while carpenter ants do not eat wood like termites, carpenter ants will chew wood with their mandibles and spit the wood out and deposit it in piles outside the nest.  As a result, after identifying them, one must control and eliminate these pests.  To do so, it is crucial to locate the carpenter ant nest.

Two Carpenter ants, Camponotus vagus, carrying an egg

Finding the Nest

In order to contain, control and eventually eliminate carpenter ants, finding and wiping out the carpenter ant nest is a must.  However, finding a carpenter ant nest is easier said than done.  The following three facts will assist in locating the carpenter ant nest.

  • There are two types of carpenter ant nests; parent colonies and satellite colonies.

Carpenter ant parent colonies are most commonly found outdoors but may be located inside a house as well.  Carpenter ant parent colonies thrive in moist, hollowed-out wood.  Examples of such areas include tree stumps and roots, rotting trees, and boards and logs directly on top of or buried beneath the ground.  Carpenter ant parent colonies may also be found indoors in moist or decaying wood.  Such indoor areas where carpenter ant parent colonies may be found include under and around bathroom and kitchen tile, sinks, showers, tubs, and dishwashers.  Parent colonies consist of the queen, her brood and worker carpenter ants. On the other hand, carpenter ant satellite colonies consist of workers, mature larvae and pupae.  While, as discussed in more detail below, carpenter ant satellite colonies may exist in drier areas, moist areas are where you are most likely to find carpenter ant satellite colonies.  Satellite colonies are no small concern as carpenter ants are known to move their eggs into such colonies if sufficient moisture is present.

  • Like parent colonies, carpenter ant satellite colonies are most commonly found in moist areas.  

Carpenter ant satellite colonies, unlike their parent colony counterparts, may be located in drier locations.  However, drier carpenter ant satellite colonies may only support worker carpenter ants as the eggs would likely dry out in lower-humidity environments.  Such drier areas may include insulation, hollow doors, and wall voids.  Thus, even though a house’s plumbing system is flawless and no moist wood is available, a carpenter ant satellite colony may nonetheless be present.  For this reason, carpenter ant activity is crucial in determining where a nest might be located despite the absence of wet materials.

  • Carpenter ant nest activity varies depending on the season.

It is common for worker carpenter ants to move between their nests and a parent colony throughout the year,  However, carpenter ant activity can vary depending on the season.   Commonly, winged reproductives, also known as “swarmers” can emerge from pupae which were transported to satellite colonies.  These swarmers may be seen in late winter and early spring as they travel away from their satellite nest.  The carpenter ant swarmers are the result of the significant number of queens and males produced in late summer.  If a large number of swarmers are seen indoors, you can be sure that an indoor nest exists.  Fortunately, carpenter ant swarmers may disclose the general location of the colony.

As a Michigander, there is cause for concern if you are seeing carpenter ants indoors during the winter months.  Such activity is an almost certain sign that their is an indoor carpenter ant nest.  It is also possible for an indoor carpenter ant nest to go unnoticed during winter months. This is because, without sufficient heat and light, the carpenter ants may remain dormant until spring.

Carpenter Ant Control

It is unquestionable that carpenter ant nests can be difficult to find.  If you are worried that you may have a carpenter ant infestation, it is best to contact a pest control professional who can assist you in finding and eliminating carpenter ants nests.


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