How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants in Trees

Ants have a tendency to infest trees and other plants, turning them into giant nests. The best way to get rid of ants is by getting rid of the nest itself. Make sure you are looking for signs of large ant colonies before beginning treatment as queens will likely be in hiding during this time. Once you’ve found the colony it’s easy enough just use bait or spray pesticide on branches near the trunk that are connected with tunnels where they enter and exit their highways inside your home.

Carpenter ants are a type of ant that is known to infest trees. There are many ways to get rid of carpenter ants, but the best way is by using a pest control company.

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Carpenter ants in your trees are not just an indication that your tree is in peril; they might also indicate that neighboring buildings are at risk of infestation. These little insects, if left untreated, may cause a lot of problems, particularly if they find their way inside your house. Fortunately, locating and eliminating carpenter ants from your trees is a task you can do on your own.

The only method to get rid of carpenter ants for good is to find and eliminate their nest. Once you’ve located the nest, you may use the appropriate pesticide for your condition. We’ll go over how to locate the nest and how to administer the pesticide effectively to ensure the infestation doesn’t return in this post. 


Contents Table of Contents


  • Carpenter Ants in Your Trees: Telltale Signs
  • Identifying the Root of Your Tree Infestation 
  • How to Select the Appropriate Ant Insecticide
  • Continued Observation


Carpenter Ants in Your Trees: Telltale Signs

Carpenter ants receive their name from the fact that they use their mandibles to gnaw tunnels out of moist or decomposing wood to create their nests. Carpenter ants, unlike termites, do not consume wood; instead, they chew it down to dust to make room for their colony. 

A carpenter ant infestation may be identified by the following symptoms:

  • Ant Activity—Seeing a swarm of ants is the most evident symptom of an infestation. The ants will seem to move in and out of the dirt near the tree’s base, indicating that they are nesting rather than merely passing by. 
  • Carpenter ants like to establish their nests in dying or decaying trees because the wood is softer and simpler to eat. One of the simplest methods to detect a probable infestation is to inspect your trees on a regular basis. 
  • Carpenter ants often enter trees via existing holes produced by birds, other insects, or natural damage. Any trees with significant, apparent holes are an excellent spot to start your investigation since carpenter ants love to live in them.
  • Individual Branch or Limb Death—As the ants tunnel further into the tree, they may begin to kill individual branches or limbs. The presence of decaying limbs among otherwise healthy branches might indicate that ants have begun to build a nest within. 
  • Carpenter ants leave behind mounds of sawdust-like material as they munch on the wood. As the ants remove additional room for their home, these piles are more likely to form beneath or around the existing holes in the tree. It’s a good idea to look for sawdust or wood residue in and around any holes in the tree while checking them.

Identifying the Root of Your Tree Infestation 

So, your trees have shown signs of a suspected carpenter ant infestation. So, what’s next? As previously said, the only way to be certain you’ve eradicated your carpenter ants is to locate and eradicate the source, or parent colony. This is the main nest, which will be found in moist, decomposing wood. 

Infestations that continue untreated for a long period might spread, resulting in the formation of carpenter ant satellite colonies. 

While the queen and the majority of the workers live in the main colony, satellite colonies are home to pupae and larvae that, if left untreated, may not only cause the infestation to reoccur, but also lead to the invasion of surrounding buildings.


You may be able to locate the nest by noting the opening via which the carpenter ants enter and depart the tree. It may not be visible at first, but use an earth scraper to probe around the base of the tree for soft places. You’ve probably located the nest if you come across an area where there’s a flurry of ant activity.

Using Bait as a Tool

You may detect ant activity away from the tree on occasion. You may be able to find a major or satellite colony by following the ants’ trail. 

Carpenter ants like sweet and protein-rich meals, and will bring them back to their queen or larvae if they are discovered. If you’re having trouble identifying the nest or making sure you haven’t missed any satellite colonies, put out some bait, such as a little sweet or mealworm, and watch the ants bring it. 

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How to Select the Appropriate Ant Insecticide

You’ll need to fully apply an excellent pesticide to remove the colony now that you’ve discovered it. The ideal pesticide to employ depends on whether you’re certain you’ve identified the source of your infestation and all possible colonies, as well as your own treatment preferences. 

To get rid of carpenter ants in your trees, you might apply one of four pesticides.

Insecticides in Liquid Form

To poison the ants, a liquid pesticide may be sprayed straight into the nest, making it the simplest and most effective approach. When applying, start by spraying the nest directly, or the probable entrance site, until it is totally saturated. You should also spray other obvious holes in the tree and target additional entrance sites.

You’ll also want to target the ants’ trails around the trees since the poison may be transmitted by them. Look for any activity lines leading away from the tree and treat them completely with pesticide. Finally, spray the whole base of the tree, beginning at the bottom and working your way up, to ensure that you’ve covered as much surface area as possible.

Insecticides in the form of dust

Dust may also be used as a pesticide. This alternative works similarly to the liquid pesticide, and it may also be carried back into the nest by the ants. 

Dust insecticides may be less expensive and have a longer residual life than liquid insecticides, especially when administered within dry and enclosed locations like interior holes. Dust can also be simpler to trace, allowing you to make sure you’ve covered all of the relevant places. 

Insecticide Bait

Commercial ant baits are a very effective solution for dealing with any ant problem. Baits are frequently viewed as the greatest long-term option since the ants will transport the bait straight to the nest and satellite colonies, even if you have not found these sources yourself. 

The drawback of Insecticide Baits is that they can take time to work, as you are depending on the ants for delivery. You must also be sure not to use a Insecticide Bait that is meant to lure the ants along with another insecticide that repels the ants, as this will render each insecticide useless. 

Alternatives Made from Nature

Many individuals choose a more natural choice to chemical pesticides, which are both safe and effective. Carpenter ants are repelled by peppermint essential oil, which is the most frequent alternative. Another popular method is cedar oil, which causes the ants to suffocate by drying them. 

While these Alternatives Made from Nature may work, they tend not to be as effective as more industrial insecticides and require more reapplication until the problem is under control.

Continued Observation

Keep in mind that carpenter ants do not cause the rot in the trees; they just take advantage of it. That means you must continue to check the health of your trees for any symptoms of fresh infestations, even if they have been removed for the time being. A little additional caution now might save you a lot of time and effort later. 

Keep an eye out for any early symptoms of an infestation and, if you find any, repeat the technique until no further signs arise. Check read our post on how to get rid of flies, as well as how to get rid of mushrooms and unpleasant fungus gats in your lawn!

What Carpenter Ants Mean and How to Get Rid of Them


Carpenter ants are insects that can cause a lot of damage to trees and plants. Signs of carpenter ants in trees include small holes, sawdust, and dark brown or black spots on the bark. Reference: signs of carpenter ants in trees.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get rid of carpenter ants in trees naturally?

A: The best way to get rid of carpenter ants is to use baits and traps. You can also use sprays, powders, or granular insecticides in areas where the ants are present.

Do carpenter ants harm trees?

A: Carpenter ants are not harmful to trees. They bite the trees leaves, but they do not harm the tree as a whole.

What is the fastest way to get rid of carpenter ants?

A: If you are able to create a barrier around the ants, then using insecticide like Raid will help. However, if this is not possible, you could try placing something sweet near where the ants are and see how long it takes for them to find it.

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