Pest Information - Ants

There are almost 9,000 species of ants and they can be found from the Arctic Circle to the Tropics. This site will focus on the ants most commonly found in Hawaii. Learn about their Appearance, Habitat, Diet, Type of Damage, and Life Cycle.
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Carpenter Ant

Hawaiian Carpenter Ant

Scientific Name

Camponotus variegatus

Appearance

Adult Hawaiian Carpenter ants measure from 5 mm to 1.27 cm in length and are Hawaii 's largest ant species. They are typically yellowish-brown with dark brown stripes across the top of the abdomen. Because of their size and color, winged adults of the Hawaiian carpenter ant are often confused with the winged adults of the West Indian drywood termite and the Formosan subterranean termite, since both groups tend to swarm (appear) at approximately the same time of the year. Several morphological characteristics can be used to differentiate these individuals, one of which is that ants have a “waist” and termites do not.

Habitat

Found primarily outdoors, the Hawaiian carpenter ant will make nests indoors in undisturbed areas such as inside storage boxes, cupboards that are seldom used, even in office equipment. The workers are nocturnal in habit, and their foraging behavior may extend to midnight or later. If the carpenter ant has established a nest in a home, it is not unusual to see them on the walls and ceiling at night. These individuals may be the winged sexual reproductives after a swarm and/or foraging workers looking for food.  Finding and eradicating the nests is important in the elimination of this pest.

Diet

These ants will feed on small insects, honeydew from aphids, and most foods found in a home, including meat and grease.

Type of Damage

Although it is primarily found outdoors, the Hawaiian carpenter ant will establish nests in wood that has previously been hollowed out by termites or inside rotting logs and tree stumps. For this reason and because of its name, it is often incriminated as a wood destroyer. Although it may do some excavation of wood, it does not consume wood like termites and does little to no damage to wooden structures. Species of carpenter ants in the Pacific Northwest and eastern parts of the United States, however, are serious wood destroyers and have rivaled termites in their importance.

Life Cycle

The elongated, whitish eggs hatch in about 20 days. The queen feeds the larvae a fluid secreted from her mouth. This nourishment is derived from her stored fat bodies. The larvae grow for about 28 days before spinning cocoons around themselves and pupating. The pupal stage lasts about 22 days. It is this stage that is often mistaken for eggs. The small workers chew their way out of the cocoons and begin to assist the queen.

Interesting Facts

A total of 44 ant species have been recorded in Hawaii, none of them native.  They have been brought to the islands by people.