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About Carpenter Ants and your Home

Each year, carpenter ants become active in the spring (March-April) and remain so through early fall (September-October). A carpenter ant colony is often composed of a series of nests. The main nest, or parent nest, is usually located outdoors, often in woodpiles, logs, stumps, or trees – sometimes several feet above the ground. The nest contains the queen, some workers, larvae and pupae. It may be joined by sub-nests, or satellite nests, containing workers, and older larvae and pupae.

It is the satellite nest that is most often encountered in structures. A satellite nest is often established in an area where wood has become moist. Common sites include wood around leaking chimney flashing, attics, skylights, bathtubs, windowsills, doorframes, porch supports, columns, soffits, wood siding and shingles, and flat roofs. Carpenter ants also will nest in fiberglass and foam insulation.


Destruction of the parent nest is perhaps the best way to control carpenter ants. If the parent nest can be located, it can then be treated with dust or liquid residual insecticides. Finding the parent nest and it’s Queen  is  the critical step in ridding a structure of carpenter ants. Eliminating indoor satellite nests may afford a degree of control, but the ants from the parent nest outside the structure may reinfest later.


Locating parent nests outdoors can require some sleuthing. Remember, carpenter ants are mostly nocturnal, so you may need to inspect after dark with a flashlight. Try to locate where the ants are trailing, and follow any ant that is carrying a bit of food back to the nest. You also can set out sugar water, honey or freshly killed insects along the ants’ path, and track them back. Remember, the nest may be up to 100 yards away.

Inspecting indoors means looking for satellite nests. Possible indoor nest sites are not limited to those listed above. Call Quest Pest Control to help you destroy these nests. Again, watch ants that are trailing through the house. If they disappear into a hole in the wall, remember the nest could still be several feet away. Also, look for piles of sawdust. The sawdust accumulates where the ants are tunneling. Refuse, in the form of bits of non-digestible food such as insect legs and wings, is also periodically kicked out of the nest.

Sound also can be used to detect the presence of carpenter ants. By clicking their mandibles, disturbed ants in an active colony produce a rustling sound, like crinkling cellophane,. Tapping on suspected wood members sometimes excites the ants enough for this sound to be heard.