There are several species of carpenter ants. The two most destructive species found in the Western United States are both found in California. The C. modoc and the C. vicinus. They range in size from ¼ to ½ inch long. The western black carpenter ant (C. modoc) is black with dark red legs. The C. vicinus varies in color, but usually is red and black. These ants are distinguished between a termite by the antennae, waist and wings. Carpenter ants, unlike termites, only excavate the wood to make their nests. The carpenter ants will eat insects and sweets. Carpenter ants cannot sting but can inflict a painful bite with their powerful jaws and spray formic acid into the wound, causing a painful burning sensation.
These ants will invade homes primarily where moisture is found and will then start a satellite colony. We have personally seen them use tree limbs touching the house or even wires to enter the attics. It is recommended that each home owner cut down any tree limbs that are touching the house. These ants are mostly located in the higher elevations of Oakhurst and Bass Lake.