Carpenter ants are black, red, or brown ants that tunnel through wood to form colonies. They live throughout the United States, particularly in the north. There are more than 1,000 species of carpenter ants.

These ants rarely bite humans, and their bites aren’t harmful. You may feel a burning sensation after a bite, but it should go away after a short time.

Carpenter ants can bite you, but it’s not common. They will likely do it in self-defense. These bites aren’t dangerous to your health.

Carpenter ant bites aren’t serious and don’t appear as a distinct bug bite or sting.

You may notice a bite if you’ve been outside and near a colony. There is a chance your skin could be a bit red in color from the bite, but it shouldn’t be severe. You could feel a burning sensation after the bite. These symptoms won’t linger.

Generally, carpenter ants are red or black in color or a combination of both. They can also be brown. Carpenter ants have six legs, three body sections, antenna, and sometimes wings.

Carpenter ants can be between 1/4 and 3/4 of an inch in length.

In the United States, they live primarily in the northern part of the country.

Fire ants vs. carpenter ants

Carpenter ants aren’t harmful to humans, but fire ants can be.

While carpenter ants can give you a mild bite, fire ants can swarm and sting you. These stings are very painful and result in a raised pimple-like area forming on the skin. You may get an infection or experience an allergic reaction from fire ant stings.

Fire ants are very small, usually 1/4 of an inch or less. Their coloring is reddish brown. They are aggressive and live in raised mounds of earth. They are common in the southern United States.

Fire ant stings are fairly common. One study found that 79 percent of those who lived in Texas had experienced a fire ant sting in that year.

Carpenter ant vs. termites

Termites, like carpenter ants, target wood and will chew through it very quickly. But termites actually eat the wood, unlike carpenter ants.

Termites can destroy wood structures in your home very quickly if you don’t treat the infestations very soon after they start.

It’s unlikely that a termite will bite you.

Termites live all around the United States and often will arrive in a new habitat as winged insects. They shed their wings once they have found a new place to feed.

Carpenter ants can be winged, with wings that are bigger at the top than at the bottom. Termites have wings that are the same size from top to bottom. Termites have straight-pointing antennae, and ants have antennae that point at a 90-degree angle.

Carpenter ant bites are minor irritations, so it may be unnecessary to do anything to treat the bite.

You can avoid being bitten again by moving to a different area after you notice the bite.

If your skin reacts to the bite, you can apply simple first aid to the area. This can include cleaning the bite site with soap and water and putting a cool cloth on the area.

While carpenter ant bites should be harmless, there is a chance that what bit you was something more dangerous than a carpenter ant.

If you experience swelling, long-lasting pain, a fever, or the bite site getting worse, call a doctor. This may be the sign of an infection or allergic reaction.

Carpenter ant bites are relatively harmless. But carpenter ants can damage wood in your home. These insects don’t eat wood like termites, but they do tunnel through it to build their colonies.

Carpenter ants like moisture and fungus in wood. Areas where there is excess moisture from leaks, rainfall, and pooling may be attractive areas for them.

There are several ways to eliminate carpenter ants:

  • Remove sources of water near the colony. This includes plugging leaks and repairing areas with moist wood.
  • Keep wood piles and other lumber away from your home.
  • Make sure plants or trees don’t touch your house to avoid ants using them to crawl inside your home.
  • Seal any cracks in your windows when they are closed.
  • Consider using an ant spray or a homemade solution containing boric acid, water, and sugar to remove ants. Keep these treatments away from children and pets and use them as directed.

Consider calling a professional to remove a carpenter ant colony from your home if these methods don’t help.

How to find a carpenter ant nest

There are a few visual signs of carpenter ants and their colonies, aside from seeing the actual insects themselves.

You may notice shavings or what appears to be sawdust near small, 1/8-inch holes in wood. Other signs include dead insects as well as tiny pieces of insulation that the ants may have burrowed through.

Carpenter ants could also form a colony in rotted or moist wood outside your home, such as in lumber, firewood piles, trees, or wooden poles.

There are many places you may find carpenter ants, which tunnel through wood to form very large colonies.

These ants rarely bite humans. Their bites can burn, but they generally don’t cause other harmful symptoms. If you have a bug bite with severe symptoms, it may be from another insect.

You can treat non-life-threatening bug bites with simple first aid.

Contact a doctor if you’re concerned the bite may be infected or if you have signs of an allergic reaction.