One of the largest types of ants in North America, the workers can reach sizes of .5 inches in length, and queens can grow to one inch. They are typically dark in color and feed on living and dead insects and sweet substances. Many species feature large mandibles and, when threatened, can force themselves to explode, releasing a glue-like toxin that immobilizes and harms their attacker (this toxin is not dangerous to humans).
A carpenter ant colony begins with a single queen, who secludes herself inside a piece of wood after participating in a mating swarm. The queen then watches over her first batch of eggs, which typically numbers between 15 and 20. The workers produced by the queen watch over subsequent broods and expand the nest by carving out tubular pathways.