Carpenter, Odorous, and Pavement ants – what’s the difference?

Ants ant control ants pest control

Carpenter, Odorous, and Pavement ants – what’s the difference?

Carpenter ants get their name from their nest building. They prefer to nest inside decayed, wet wood, and excavate the wood to form tunnels from which to get around. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat wood, they only tunnel and chew through wood to create nests.

What do Carpenter Ants look like? carpenter ant

Carpenter ants vary in size and can be anywhere from ½” to ⅝” long. While black carpenter ants are common, some species have reddish or yellowish coloration. The color also varies among species, ranging from black to brown, red, black, yellow, orange, yellowish tan or light brown. Some ants exhibit both red and black coloration.

How serious are carpenter ants? Should I be worried?

Carpenter ants, like termites, can go undetected for long periods of time. By the time you know you have them you have an infestation that is not easily corrected. The damage caused by carpenter ants is often confused with termite damage. Remember, termites eat and digest the cellulose found in the wood, carpenter ants simply hollow out galleries to use as nests in wood.

Signs of carpenter ants:

All species of carpenter ants prefer decayed wood for their nesting sites. Although carpenter ants do not eat wood, damage can be severe when nests remain active for several years. Outside of seeing them marching around your home, you’ll often find evidence of sawdust outside their kick-out holes. In addition, if you see winged ants creeping out from ceilings, walls, or other hidden crevices then you’ve got a problem. If the infestation is severe, you might find stuck doors or windows, uneven floors, sinking ceilings and bulging walls.

Among ant species, the odorous ant is the most commonly found house pest. They build colonies consisting of multiple nests and reproducing queens. Odorous house ant colonies can range from fewer than 100 workers and one queen to more than 10,000 workers and hundreds of queens. They feed mainly on honeydew produced by aphids, as well as floral nectar and other sugary foods. Odorous house ants nest indoors (under sinks and doormats and in insulation and dishwashers) and outdoors (under rocks and in garbage cans, potted plants and exposed soil).

What do odorous ants look like? odorous ant

Odorous ants are small and range in color from brown to black. Their overall size/length varies from ​1⁄16 to ​1⁄8 inches (1.5–3.2 mm) depending on the caste. When crushed, these ants leave a coconut like smell as a defense mechanism against predators.

How serious are Odorous ants? Should I be worried?

Odorous house ants are not dangerous, but they can contaminate your food as they feed and forage.  They are considered a nuisance pest. These ants can bite, but they do not cause much pain. 

Signs of odorous ants:

Odorous house ants are recognized as being one of the most commonly encountered ants inside homes. Odorous House Ants can be found trailing through kitchens in homes all across North America. Odorous ants are most often found to enter homes after a heavy rainstorm; attempting to escape flooding of its nest. 

Unlike the carpenter ant that chews through wood, the pavement ant doesn’t chew or damage cement. They don’t cause any structural damage; they’re just a nuisance. Pavement ants get their name because they build nests underneath or along the edge of sidewalks, driveways, and other hard surfaces. They excavate dirt and debris from the nest, piling it in small mounds through cracks in the slab. Pavement ants have been known to consume insects, seeds, honeydew, honey, bread, meats, nuts and cheese. They map out trails for distances of up to 30 feet in search of food. 

What do pavement ants look like? pavement ant

The pavement ant workers are about 2.5–4 mm long and vary in color from dark brown to black, with parallel lines on the head and mid-section. Worker ants measure around ⅛ – 1/16 of an inch long and can be dark brown or black. Flying ants of this species are about twice the size of the workers.

How serious are pavement ants? Should I be worried?

Pavement ants have a stinger, but they rarely sting people. If you get stung, it is usually too weak to penetrate the skin. A bite from a pavement ant can cause skin irritation or a rash. These ants are not venomous, and their bites are not medically important.

Signs of pavement ants:

One of the best ways to identify pavements ants is to look where they prefer to build their colonies and forage; underneath sidewalks, cement slabs, and large rocks. Pavement ants will enter homes and buildings through foundation cracks. If you see sand piles and small soil particles in structures near cracks in concrete slabs, this is likely pavement ants disposing material from excavated nests.

How do I treat ant infestation?

It is very difficult to eliminate an ant problem on your own. A successful ant control program requires that the entire colony be eliminated, including the queen(s). This often requires professional assistance.

There are somethings you can do to prevent ants from entering your home or business:

  • Sealing cracks in foundations and gaps around windows and doors.
  • Don’t leave food out on your counter or dirty dishes in your sink. 
  • Signing up for year round home pest control services can also help you protect your home and prevent ants and other pests from taking over.


Ants are active year-round, that means you need protection year-round. Sigma’s Quarterly Pest Control Service (QPCS) covers antsspidersroaches, wasps, fleas, centipedes, crickets, mice, rats, and much more.

Once we solved any issues on the inside of your home, we will focus our efforts on the outside to keep your home pest free. Exterior services will occur once every three months, and will include a foundation treatment, removal of wasp nests and spider webs using a telescopic tool that reaches up to 30 feet, a perimeter band around the home. And crack and crevice service. However, if the bugs don’t listen, we will come back and take care of it at no additional charge to you.

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