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Last year, my wife and I purchased a house just south of Houston (Stafford, TX exactly). A couple of months into occupancy, we discovered that we had a problem with some Camponotus vicinus (Brown Carpenter Ant), and quickly got rid of them through the use of some boric acid and various other pesticides that were labeled for use against carpenter ants.

The thing about Camponotus vicinus is that they typically don't hit this far south and west, but I was able to confirm that's what they were by various sources around the internet.

Before you question on whether it's ants or termites, I can guarantee you that it's ants due to the piles of frass that they were leaving in a couple of places in the bathrooms, and I was able to grab a few and compare them to the ant/termite identification sheets found nearly everywhere.

But now we're starting to see swarmers of a different type of carpenter ant. These have the characteristics of Camponotus pennsylvanicus (Pennsylvania Carpenter Ant), but again, they don't really pose a threat to this part of the US. (See below)

I have removed the dead and rotting trees from my property, but I still need to trim some back. I also need to replace my soffits and facia boards on nearly the entire house to rid of that rotten wood, and I need to caulk around various pipes and such around the house.

I'm not terribly concerned about structural damage, but there's a lot of accessory damage that these things have and could do, and I want to make sure that's put to a stop.

My question(s) ultimately are as follows, though:

  1. Is there some other black or brown carpenter ant that would strike southeastern Texas?
  2. What is the most effective means of stopping swarmers of this sort?
  3. Are there any other tattle tale signs that I need to be looking for with these wretched things?


I just got home from work a bit ago and caught a swarm in the master bathroom. Among this swarm were 3 or 4 queens and several other swarmers. The queens were about 5/8" in length, where the swarmers were all 3/8" or shorter.

I've ruled out Camponotus pennsylvanicus based on the appearance of the queens. Their head and thorax are brown, and their abdomen is a banded brownish black. They only have one pair of wings and these protrude from their thorax. They are single-noded, which leans more towards Camponotus vicinus again.

Once I get the pictures off my camera, I'll post them here for further identification.


Here's a cropped close-up I was able to get of one of the queens.

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A picture of one of the queens showing the most detail can be found here – Skudd Jan 29 '13 at 1:50
I'm not an expert, but are you sure that's not a termite? – DA01 Jan 29 '13 at 4:59
Positive. Check this out for more information. – Skudd Jan 29 '13 at 12:48
Note that carpenter ants, unlike termites, aren't eating the wood, just living in it. This makes them (usually) less damaging. It also means they prefer wood that's already rotting and easier to tunnel into, so you may want to take their presence as a warning that there may be other issues. – keshlam Sep 1 at 2:56
Take the time to follow a few home so as to locate their nest(s). A chemical attack there is most likely to be effective. – Wayfaring Stranger Sep 17 at 12:23

2 Answers 2

Ants, and particularly carpenter ants, in wooded areas with plentiful food will be ubiquitous. If your property is sufficiently wooded it's likely that there are multiple colonies.

Carpenter ants are crafty, too. They are also hardier against poisons and pickier with baiting than other ants. When we had a problem with them I asked a few entomologists I know about their control. Their recommendation was that you must use multiple poison bait types. Carpenter ants will take protein (granules) or sugar (gel) baits based on their mood and the needs of the colony. You should supply both, regularly, around areas they frequent and around your home.

Look for products featuring Abamectin such as Advance Carpenter Ant Bait (that's "advance", not "advanced")

In sugar/gel baits look for products featuring Fipronil such as MaxForce Carpenter Ant Bait Gel

These products worked very well for me after vigilant application for a few weeks.

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Carpenter Ants, as well as other ants, can be an going problem using the wrong treatment strategies. Most can be eliminated with Terro Ant Killer for $5.00 from your local hardware store but it takes persistence. Fire Ants can not be treated with Terro because they are not sweet eaters most of the time. Fortunately, Termidor SC came along to rid us of several tough treatments for pest problems including termites.

Try to eliminate any trees or foliage from touching the structure. You are trying to eliminate travel routes from the colonies main nest to the structure. This will force the ants to travel to the ground or power/electrical lines. They get most of their food from trees and bushes in the area. They are not eating the structure. They are just excavating tunnels for living space in the structure. Carpenter Ant do very little damage to most structures compared to termites. The ants will move into termite damaged areas within a structure and use as a home also. Carpenter Ants also seek out water damaged wood because it is softer and easy to excavate.

After you have eliminated the majority of travel routes, Carpenter ants can be eliminated rather easily by having a licensed pest professional applying Termidor SC as directed by label instructions. After application, most colonies are eliminated in about 7-10 days. Acrobat Ants, could take as long as five weeks to be eliminated due to the large size of some colonies. Estimated cost of treatment would be $150-$275. Treatment should last for 4-6 months. 23 years in DFW area pest control.

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Turns out the colony was in a wall between two bathrooms (that should be a book title). I discovered this by watching their patterns and using a pipe inspection camera inserted in the walls. I was able to locate the nest and treat it myself with Termidor SC, per the label's recommendation. I left the wall open for a couple of days and used a shop vac to remove the nest. I've since roughed the drywall back in and haven't seen any sign of them. – Skudd Sep 17 at 19:44

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