; ;

Tree Ants: Complete Facts On The Species


Reading Time: 7 minutes

Having a personal garden can be a great addition to a house. However, a garden or a yard also comes with a lot of responsibilities for the owner. For example, you need to be aware of the types of plants or trees you’re growing and how to take care of each. You also need to make sure that your garden is free from any pests that may harm your greens.

One such pest to be on the lookout for is ants. These insects come in a variety of forms, ranging in colors and sizes, and you might even come across winged ants as well. An example in the ant family is the tree ant, more commonly referred to as the carpenter ant.

Basic Facts About The Carpenter Ant

We’re going to answer just about any query you might have regarding these carpenter ants and the way you can get permanently rid of them. You can read it all down below!

What Are Carpenter Ants?

Carpenter ants can be found in your garden, usually lurking around the trees. Carpenter ants get their name from making nests and cutting through wood efficiently. Unfortunately, these ants are fast workers and will tear apart any tree they like, whether old or young trees.

Now, even though you’ll find carpenter ants in trees most of the time, they don’t eat wood, unlike termites. Instead, they make holes and passages through the trees to make way for them to move around more easily. So, if you find sawdust piles near your trees, just know that it’s the work of a carpenter ants in trees.

Usually, these ants prefer to work in a colony of thousands of worker ants. Accordingly, you’d find that an average carpenter ant colony consists of about 20 to 30 thousand ants. This number can also go up to 50 thousand.

What Are the Types Of Carpenter Ant Nests?

In total, there are two types of different carpenter ant nests in trees that you may come across around your home or garden. They both host different kinds of carpenter ants as well.

Parent Nests

The parent ant nests each consist of a parent colony. This colony takes the name from the presence of the queen carpenter ant and her egg as well in the nest. This type of ant nest also has workers and broods inside, and it can be considered a primary nest as well.

Satellite Nests

Worker ants in these nests form satellite colonies, consisting mainly of mature larvae and pupae. A satellite colony communicates with the parent colony at all times, which is why many pest control professionals find it challenging to get rid of carpenter ants.

Do Carpenter Ants Harm Trees?

Yes, one of their main tasks is to eat away at trees to make tunnels and nests for the entire colony. If you aren’t careful and miss a carpenter ant colony nest on your trees, you might lose the whole tree within a few weeks.

However, carpenter ants don’t always harm trees. Often, the trees are already injured or damaged, exposing moisture on the inside, which becomes a nesting ground for these carpenter ants. These injuries can come from several natural sources, such as woodpeckers pecking on the outer bark, a lawnmower cut, or even a lightning strike.

In such instances, the carpenter ants in trees won’t disturb the nutrient and water flow from within and just nest on the decayed part of the rotten wood. So, carpenter ants harm trees but not in all cases.

Do Carpenter Ants Nest In Trees?

Carpenter ants mostly nest in trees when they find exposure to moisture within the tree. As explained above, you can expose this moisture through different sources. The ant loves moisture, which is why it’ll attack any such spots in or on the trees.

That being said, they can nest elsewhere too. You might also have a problem with these ants inside your home, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re nesting inside your house.

Like other ants and most other insects, most carpenter ants like to consume sweet products, including syrups, glucose, and other sweets. That’s probably the reason they might go inside your home from their nests on possibly nearby structures.

Why Are Carpenter Ants Eating My Tree?

Well, carpenter ants’ nesting is usually found on damp or decaying wood, and if you do find these ants living on your trees, it’s probably because you haven’t been paying attention to them.

However, the carpenter ants aren’t eating your tree; they’re just cutting through the wood. And that’s probably because your tree is damaged and not properly managed.

Will Carpenter Ants Kill My Tree?

Yes and no. As we’ve mentioned above, it varies from situation to situation. These ants won’t kill your tree and only chip away wood decay in some instances. This will mean that your tree might survive even years of carpenter ant infestation, as it doesn’t interrupt the natural flow of nutrients and water through the tree.

What Are the Types Of Trees That Carpenter Ants Prefer?

There isn’t a list of trees that carpenter ants prefer, except just one in particular that they take a specific liking to. Carpenter ants can usually be seen nesting on pine trees.

With that in mind, if you do have pine trees at home, it’d be best to take good care of it so that it doesn’t become a nesting ground for carpenter ants!

Related Contents

How To Locate Carpenter Ant Infestation

There are several ways to know if your tree is infested with carpenter ants or not. Of course, you might be suspicious of your situation with ants at home or just extra careful with your garden, and we don’t blame you. Nonetheless, let’s talk about ways to know if your tree is infested with ants.

The easiest and perhaps the only way for a non-professional to tell whether there’s a tree infestation with carpenter ants is to look at the base of the tree. Typically if a tree is infested, you can see the movement of ants in and out of the soil at the bottom of the tree, indicating that the tree most probably has nests inside.

If you want to locate the ant nest, it’ll be a bit difficult, as these ants don’t build nests outside the tree. There might be a few visible holes where you might be able to see just the opening of the nest, but that’s probably just it.

Apart from just your tree, if you’re finding these ants inside your home, then you can follow their trail back to their nests pretty easily as well. Carpenter ants are incredibly organized and will pave a clear path from where they’ve come. This can allow you to trace their movement back to where the nest is and get rid of it.

Ultimately, the best way to get rid of the ants and analyze the situation would be to call a professional who knows about carpenter ants, so they’re more suited to find out what the issue at hand is.

How To Get Rid Of Carpenter Ants

There are several ways to kill ants or get rid of them, and we’ll mention a few of the methods for ant control on trees down below.

Peppermint Essential Oil

With this method, you aren’t killing the ants but simply making them run away. All you need to do is mix a few drops of peppermint oil with a liter of water to form a solution. These sort of simple solutions can often do the trick against such insects and even other bugs. Of course, replacing peppermint with cedar oil will also do the trick.

Then, you need to spray this solution at the base of the tree regularly, and you’ll notice them running away from the initial damage, as ants hate peppermint. However, you’re sorely mistaken if you think this will be enough. You’ll have to be paying proper attention to the tree, spraying it every single day for a few weeks to get rid of them completely.


Whether you use a liquid insecticide or any other type of insecticide, like boric acid, you’ll need to be efficient with it. Again, this would work best if you apply it to the base of the tree. To illustrate, just spray the liquid insecticide or pour the powder on the base of the tree and wait for it to work.

You’ll need to be patient and consistent with this tactic as well, be it powder or liquid insecticides. Apply them generously and on a daily basis for a few days to get results.

We say to apply them generously but within a specific limit, as they can be detrimental to environmental conditions. Also, be careful while handling boric acid, as it’s a highly potent chemical, which is why it kills insects quickly.

Ant Baits

You can also use ant baits to lure in the carpenter ants. Even though the primary nest is located inside the tree, there can be several colonies on other trees or elsewhere in your garden that you might be unaware of. It’s a great idea to lure these ants with protein-rich foods, which they love, or any other type of sweet product.

Moreover, you’ll find that these ants will carry these foods to the queen in the parent nest, which you’ll be able to track easily following the ants’ tracks. Then, use the ant baits, which are lined with boric acid, to get rid of them.

Pest Control

You’ll find it much easier and more efficient to call a pest control professional to deal with the issue. As they’re adequately trained, they not only spot an infestation early on before it causes further damage, but they also get rid of carpenter ant colonies much more efficiently. In other words, they’ll have all the necessary equipment to deal with the infestation as well.


We understand that it might be frustrating to find out that there’s an ant infestation in your home, but just figuring out that there’s an infestation is the first step in the right direction. After you’ve located the infestation, you now know what steps to take to get rid of carpenter ants.

Once you know what type of insecticide or repellant you need to use, you just need to spray it on the base of the tree. Be consistent with the treatment, but if you still feel like it isn’t working, just call a professional who’ll most definitely help solve your issues.

Last but not least, do keep in mind that you need to be alert about the situation beforehand so that your tree doesn’t get destroyed before you’re even able to assess the situation. And as always, it’s better to take preventative measures and ensure that your garden doesn’t make for a suitable nest location for tree ants.