Carpenter Ant Questions

- Frequently asked questions -

Summary: In the nearly 20 years of fielding questions about carpenter ants these are some of the ones I'm most often asked by homeowners.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)

The following questions have come mainly from homeowners concerned about seeing these large ants both inside and outside their homes. For a complete discussion of carpenter ant identification and control see: Carpenter Ants

winged & wingless carpenter ants
Winged (left) and wingless (right) carpenter ants

Q: "Should I worry about finding a few carpenter ants inside our house?"

A: Usually not. At certain times of the year carpenter ant nests located outside but near houses release large numbers of winged ants (left, above) that are capable of flying in through open doors and windows. The presence of these ants indoors is no reason for concern. If more than a few ants are found indoors, however, there may be a nest, or nests, in the walls.

Q: "Should I worry about finding a few carpenter ants outdoors?"

A: No. In many areas carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) are very common. It is therefore not unusual to encounter these large ants outdoors. The key point here is if they seem to be moving in a directed way either toward or away from the house. This "trailing" behavior may indicate a nest located inside the home. Otherwise, finding ants outside should be no concern (see Related Articles below).

Q: "Are wall void treatments for carpenter ants safe?"

A: Yes. The standard treatment for carpenter ants involves placing a band of insecticide in the exterior walls completely around the house. This insecticide is placed out of reach and has no dangerous fumes if done properly.

Q: "Are periodic maintenance treatments for carpenter ants necessary?"

A: No. Regular perimeter treatments are not needed to control carpenter ants. Once interior nests are eliminated by a properly done initial treatment the only needed follow-up are routine inspections (see Related Articles below).

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