Carpenter ants, also known as sugar ants, are large (0.3 to 1.0 in or 0.76 to 2.54 cm) ants indigenous to many forested parts of the world.
They build nests inside wood consisting of galleries chewed out with their mandibles, preferably in dead, damp wood. They do not consume the wood, however, unlike termites. Sometimes, carpenter ants hollow out sections of trees. They also commonly infest wooden buildings and structures, and are a widespread nuisance and major cause of structural damage.
Carpenter ants are foragers that typically eat parts of other dead insects or substances derived from other insects. Common foods for them include insect parts, “honey dew” produced by aphids, or some secretions from plants. Carpenter ants can increase the survivability of aphids when they attend to them. They attend to any aphid species, but can also express preference for specific ones.
Carpenter ant species reside both outdoors and indoors in moist, decaying, or hollow wood, most commonly in forest environments. They cut “galleries” into the wood grain to provide passageways for movement from section to section of the nest. Certain parts of a house, such as around and under windows, roof eaves, decks and porches, are more likely to be infested by carpenter ants because these areas are most vulnerable to moisture.
Carpenter ants have been known to construct extensive underground tunneling systems. These systems often lead to and end at some food source – often aphid colonies, where the ants extract and feed on honeydew. These tunneling systems also often exist in trees. The colonies typically include a central “parent” colony surrounded and supplemented by smaller satellite colonies.