Carpenter ant hitchhikers - Now what?


Old 01-25-21, 07:24 AM
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Unhappy Carpenter ant hitchhikers - Now what?

I brought home a very large bamboo plant yesterday, and as soon as I unwrapped it I started seeing these (photo attached), which I found out are ant alates. I also saw at least one carpenter ant crawling on the bamboo, so I'm assuming they're carpenter ant alates. I saw a handful of these winged ones about 1/4" long (I'm sure there are more) but also lots and lots of tiny winged ones, the size of gnats. One of the gnat-sized ones possibly mated with a larger one as I was photographing to try to identify them (and then got away).

First, I want to confirm what I think I'm seeing. Are the tiny ones males and the larger ones queens, and the trip home disturbed them out of their dormancy? The bamboo was all wrapped up in sheets, and there was plenty of shaking on the vehicle. Is it pretty safe to assume these are carpenter ants since I saw one of those?

Second: Now what? Did I unleash a huge carpenter ant problem onto my (wood frame, pier-&-beam) house? Is there anything I can or should do now to try to prevent them from settling in?

I'm in the southern U.S., so it's January but we've had a warm spell - 50s to 70s the last several days.


Thank you for any tips!

Old 01-25-21, 11:18 AM
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I'm not convinced that it's a carpenter ant, though I'm still open to it. All ant colonies have large and small ants (major and minor workers). The winged (alate) ants are reproducers and supplemental queens.

The tiny ones that looked like gnats; did they have wings? They may have in fact been small flies such as fungus gnats, phorids, etc that live in damp potted plants commonly. If the plant and soil are conducive to ants, it likely is conducive to gnats and such.

Otherwise, where is the plant now? Any feel for how many ants emerged and scattered throughout the house? Just a ball park idea; dozens, hundreds, etc.

Don't panic as breaking up the colony, taking them out of their element/environment will certainly disrupt them enough that they may never colonize, even if carpenter ants. That said, I'd still do a treatment and I'd probably spray a residual insecticide instead of baiting, or I'd do both. I'm hesitant to suggest baiting only because the colony is so disrupted and scattered now that spraying will work better as baiting requires the target insect to act as business as usual and that's not the case here.

Do you have access to compressed air sprayer(s) or would you rather use an aerosol? My question assumes that you want to spray, otherwise you could monitor for a week or so and see what happens or not. You could also spray only the exterior as carpenter ants, when established as a colony, must forage more than other ants for food to bring back to colony. Fipronil (active ingredient) is excellent for ants, It is not labeled for interior use.


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