Carpenter Ants vs Black Ants: What’s the Difference?

Written by August Buck
Published: February 25, 2022
Image Credit Amelia Martin/Shutterstock.com
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Whether you think you have a pest problem or simply want to learn more about insects, there are many differences between carpenter ants vs black ants. One of these ants is much more troublesome than the other, but do you know which one? You may already have a good guess, but we are here to go over all of the differences between these two bugs.

In this article, we will address everything you need to know about carpenter ants as well as black ants, including how you can identify them. We will also go over their behavior and what you can expect if you have either insect in your home. Let’s get started and talk about ants! 

Comparing Carpenter Ants vs Black Ants

carpenter ant vs black ant
Carpenter ants belong to the Camponotus genus while black ants belong to the Lasius genus.

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Carpenter AntsBlack Ants
GenusCamponotusLasius
Size6-12 mm; larger than black ants4-6 mm long; smaller than carpenter ants
AppearanceEvenly shaped body and heart shaped head; can be found in red or brown as well as blackOnly found in black; unevenly shaped body and head. Has two different body parts between its head and its thorax
WingsTwo sets of wingsOne set of wings, or no wings
BehaviorDigs tunnels in wood, especially in homesNests outside, but comes indoors for food

Key Differences Between Carpenter Ants vs Black Ants

carpenter ant vs black ant
Carpenter ants are found in a wide variety of colors, including brown, black, and red, while black ants are naturally only black.

Kras_Stock/Shutterstock.com

There are many key differences between carpenter ants and black ants. Carpenter ants belong to the Camponotus genus while black ants belong to the Lasius genus, and carpenter ants are much larger than black ants in general. The appearance of the black ant differs from the carpenter ant in just about every way, and their behavior is extraordinarily different from one another as well.

 Let’s talk more about these differences in greater detail. 

Carpenter Ants vs Black Ants: Genus

A primary difference between carpenter ants vs black ants is their genus and species classification. While both of these ants are indeed ants, carpenter ants belong to the Camponotus genus while black ants belong to the Lasius genus. This leads to very important differences in the appearance and behavior of these two ants.

carpenter ant vs black ant
Black ants have a single set of wings, if they have any at all, while carpenter ants have two sets of wings.

Janny2/Shutterstock.com

Carpenter Ants vs Black Ants: Physical Appearance

You can easily tell the difference between a carpenter ant and a black ant. For example, a carpenter ant is always larger than a black ant, ranging from 6-12 mm in length compared to 4-6 mm for a black ant. Carpenter ants are also found in a wide variety of colors, including brown, black, and red, while black ants are naturally only black. 

The body shapes of these two bugs differ greatly as well. Carpenter ants have a heart shaped head compared to the rounded head of a black ant. However, the size of black ants makes this difficult to tell without magnification. A black ant has two different body parts between its head and its thorax, while a carpenter ant only has one. Carpenter ants also have a much more uniform body when compared to the body of a black ant. 

carpenter ant vs black ant
Carpenter ants have a heart shaped head compared to the rounded head of a black ant.

Carpenter Ants vs Black Ants: Behavior

The behavior of carpenter ants vs black ants is extraordinarily different. This is what makes one of these ants more dangerous than the other in terms of what they can do if they invade your home. Let’s talk more about this in greater detail now. 

Black ants can invade your home just like carpenter ants can, but they are only looking for food. Carpenter ants live within the walls of your home or other wooden objects, and it is very difficult to remove them, something that is very different from black ants. Many pest control companies have greater difficulty with carpenter ants than with black ants, and many homeowners consider carpenter ants as much of a pest as termites! 

This is because black ants make their homes outside in ant hills, while carpenter ants live within any wooden structure they can. Carpenter ants dig intricate tunnels and nests within the walls of your home, often leading to severe damage. 

Carpenter Ants vs Black Ants: Wings

Another difference between black ants and carpenter ants is the presence of wings. All carpenter ants have wings, while not all black ants do. Black ants also have a single set of wings, if they have any at all, while carpenter ants have two sets of wings. While this is a subtle distinction, it is indeed a key difference between these two bugs.

carpenter ant vs black ant
Black ants make their homes outside in ant hills, while carpenter ants live within any wooden structure they can.

IamBijayaKumar/Shutterstock.com

Carpenter Ants vs Black Ants: Preferred Habitat

A final difference between carpenter ants versus black ants is their preferred habitat. While both of these insects can be found inside of your home, black ants prefer to live outside, while carpenter ants often live inside the walls of your home or other wooden structures nearby.

However, why do black ants enter your home in the first place if they enjoy living outside in a garden or backyard setting? Black ants are pests known for seeking out food within the home, and this is often why you will see them. However, black ants will leave once they have sufficiently fed, while carpenter ants linger in your home for a long time. You can think of carpenter ants as moving in, while black ants are just there to visit!

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