Carpenter Ants Camponotus floridanus (Buckley).
Color: black, red or both colors
Shape: oval; segmented
Other names: tortugas carpenter ant, bull ant, sugar ant
(photo to the left courtesy of: Flickr user Bob in Swamp, Photographer: Bob Peterson)
Also see Red Imported Fire Ants
Carpenter ants generally build their nest outdoors in decaying (wet or moldy) timber such as tree stumps, firewood, landscaping and wooden structures like houses, barns, garages, etc. Generally carpenter ants will enter a house through wet and damaged wood. They require a close water source to survive.
Carpenter ants can be found throughout the United States. In North Central Florida they can be located in Columbia, Alachua, Baker, Union, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy, Madison, Taylor and Leon counties.
To prevent carpenter ants on your property remove all standing water or sources of moisture as they require water to survive.
To keep ants from entering your home make sure all cracks, crevices and holes around windows, doors, plumbing and electric outlets are sealed. Also make sure tree branches and other plant life is cut back from the house as carpenter ants will travel across branches to enter your home.
Make sure that firewood and other types of wood piles are not located within 20 feet of your home.
As their name implies they are worker ants which can damage and destroy wood through building their nests. If they enter a wooden structure they pose a property threat. Generally they gain entrance though wet, moldy or damaged wood and then work their way into dry, undamaged wood.