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The common western species of carpenter ants are dull black in color with reddish legs and golden hairs covering their abdomens. Other species are black, a combination of red and black, or completely red or brown. Worker carpenter ants vary in size, ranging from 1/8 of an inch to 1/2 an inch long. The queen carpenter ant can be up to 5/8 of an inch long. Potentially Dangerous: To property, not people. Carpenter ants do not sting, but many are rather large and can cause a painful bite if disturbed.. They also give off formic acid, often directed to the spot they are biting.
They search for food between sunset and midnight, during spring and summer months. Sometimes workers travel up to 100 yards from a nest in search of food. Carpenter ants get into houses when they travel back and forth between their main nest and their satellite nests. Most of their feeding is on plant secretions or honeydew of aphids and scale insects, but occasionally invade houses in search of food. Foraging workers diet consists of dead animals, including insects, earthworms, and vertebrates. Workers also collect honeydew and forage for sweet food, proteins, and fats. These ants are a major agricultural and urban pest, destroying crops and invading residential areas both outdoors and indoors.
Little black ant colonies have multiple queens and may become very large.