Species category: Ant
Scientific name: Componotus spp
The Carpenter Ant is a large ant species that varies in colour from black to dark brown to brownish orange and will measure 3-12mm in length. It has a smooth, evenly rounded, thorax with a distinct single node on pedicel (petiole). The mandibles have 5-8 teeth.
This species is polymorphic, so can have multiple different sizes of worker ant in the colony.
Carpenter ants have a widespread distribution and are found all across Australia.
They live both indoors and outdoors but prefer to nest in moist wood. This may be the bark of a decaying tree, some rotting timber or in the home it could be a damaged wooden joist.
When creating the nest, they tunnel through the wood but do not eat it as they don’t digest cellulose. Nests are created in moistened wood as this species requires moist and humid environment.
Despite the name, this species does not eat wood and prefers sugary liquids like honeydew and the sweet secretions of bugs such as aphids, hence why they tend to aphids on plants. They will also eat fluids and body parts of dead insects.
The name derives from the ant’s preference for boring into wood when nest building. Rather than eat the wood, it deposits it outside the nest.
In general, Carpenter Ants tend to be a nuisance more than a destructive pest. Unlike termites, their work on wood is not necessarily rapid. However, an untreated infestation can grow fast and over time can weaken the fabric of a property.
Their protection of aphids also leads to increased plant destruction by Aphids.