The Best Way to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants in an RV

Our very first night in the camper was not a success. Exactly 15 minutes after the sun went down we started noticing huge ants coming out from the carpet in the slide-out! Turns out, we had a serious carpenter ant problem. So I called up an expert and figured out exactly how to get rid of carpenter ants in my camper…

To get rid of carpenter ants quickly in your home or camper, use carpenter ant spray and any bag of granular ant bait. Make sure carpenter ants are on the bag label. Spray the area where they are coming from and sprinkle the granular ant bait around the areas they visit most.

The best products I recommend for getting rid of carpenter ants in your RV:

Let’s talk about where to exterminate in your RV, what you need to do about it, how to prevent them from coming back, and why they are there in the first place. ?

Best places to spray and sprinkle in my RV camper to get rid of carpenter ants

Once you have gone to Home Depot and purchased your carpenter ant spray and your choice of granular ant bait.

There is no time to waste! Here are the best places to use these products that will destroy these little invaders…

You’re going to want to find out where these ants are coming from.

You may even want to pull up the carpet if you feel they may be under it.

Where to spray to get rid of carpenter ants Inside

Using the spray nozzle on your carpenter ants spray and point it right where these ants are coming out from.

Whether it be in your carpet, behind shelves, or in your cabinets. Just spray everywhere.

Make sure you do not leave your animals or kids inside the RV at this time.

After the spray dries is when it is most safe.

You want to spray all along the floorboards. Inside of all the cabinets and drawers. In the fridge. Just to be safe.

But please, take the food out first!

You are also going to want to spray the window sills, along with the interior of your camper front door, the back door if you have one, and any other areas where you feel like they can get in from.

Where to spray to get rid of carpenter ants outside

Make sure you spray all along the outside of your camper as well.

You’re going to want to hit outside of the windows and outside of the door.  

I would even go as far as spraying your stabilizers, levelers and jacks.

Don’t forget to spray those tires too!

This stuff kills on contact and creates a barrier to keep them away. ?‍♂️

Where to sprinkle granular ant bait in your RV camper

You are going to want to sprinkle this stuff after the spray has dried.

They do not like granular ant bait when it is wet. They prefer it dry and they will go gaga over it just wait and see.

The granular ant bait will attract them right out of there nest and they will pick it up and bring it back to the nest to share it with the family, therefore, killing the whole clan, even the queen!

Sprinkle the granular ant bait in corners of your camper, within the carpet and along with the countertops.

you can also sprinkle it

  • in window sills
  • by the front door
  • inside drawers
  • inside cabinets
  • on the carpet
  • inside all of the storage spaces
  • sink in the kitchen and bathroom
  • toilet
  • the shower
  • and along the baseboards

Be careful though, if you over sprinkle, you may need to do some clean up after the problem is solved.

Honestly, I would rather be safe than sorry if we’re trying to really handle the problem.

Where to sprinkle granular ant bait outside of your RV camper

Best places to sprinkle around granular ant bait outside of the camper to get rid of carpenter ants would be:

  • in the grass leading up to the stairs of your camper
  • the stairs
  • tires
  • stabilizers
  • jacks
  • inside the storage compartments
  • up under the trailer itself
  • windowsills
  • any and all leveling blocks
  • the canopy bars
  • hoses
  • wires
  • and anything else touching the ground leading up to your camper.

It is important to understand you will need to keep up with this for prevention

How to prevent carpenter ants from coming back

Carpenter ants LOVE moist wood.

What you’re going to need to do at this point is to find out where the water damage is in your camper.

This may take some demolition. ?

I know it sucks but we did it and we found some serious problems we wouldn’t have known about if we did not have carpenter ants.

So I guess in a way it was a Bittersweet situation.

Not that I recommend letting it get to that point.

(Unfortunately, we are first Time RV buyers and did not have our camper checked before purchasing. Hence why this website came about. To help fellow campers avoid the mistakes that we have made along the way!)

Take a deep breath – everything is going to be okay. ?

Once you find the damaged wood, assess how bad the situation is.

You may need to replace just one spot – or 90% of the floors and walls.

The point is, you don’t know until you inspect what’s really going on and why they were there in the first place.

Besides, you didn’t just exterminate for no reason now you have to make sure that they never ever come back again.

You can do this! ?

Some easy preventative measures:

when preventing carpenter ants from coming back into your camper you should always consider cleanliness.

Make sure you are not leaving any food out on the counter tops.

Try not to eat in bed. Just clean up after yourself in general.

This goes for any kind of bug prevention as well.

You’re going to want to keep food in airtight containers.

Seal all Entrance points like doors windows and the sides and all around your slide out (if stationary).

You also want to consider sealing the roof and underneath your camper.

Clean food and drink spill ASAP. ??

Do not leave water in the sink either in your kitchen or bathroom area, make sure you wipe it dry after use.

They love sitting water.

That goes for the shower as well.

Trim trees and bushes outside if you are stationary like us.

The most common reason why carpenter ants get into an RV camper

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you most likely have a leak somewhere in your camper.

It may be causing water damage to the wood in your walls and floors making the wood damp and a perfect habitat for carpenter ants.

Most older campers are notorious for leaks.

Living in a camper you’re basically out in the wilderness. If there are bugs, they will come.

You want to watch wherever there is water leakage and condensation.

They like to live where there are mold and mildew as well.

A lot of times they live indoors but may not necessarily eat in your camper.

They will go to eat somewhere else but they like your camper because it’s a good place for them to hide out.

If you parked by trees there may be a parent colony or a satellite colony somewhere close by.

They also travel over 5 – 600 ft. So if there is a colony nearby you living in a tree that just so happened to get cut down, that may be the reason they found your camper.

Carpenter ants like to eat small plants outside. They especially love honeydew.

So if you have those around your camper or even inside, these are great foods sources for carpenter ants.

If for some reason you have a wasps nest near or under your camper, or a bees nest that you don’t know about, carpenter ants will find these guys and destroy the whole nest, which in turn brings them to your camper.

War zone for sure! ? ? ?

If your camper is in the south or the west where it’s humid and wet, they like to live in those areas as well.

Do carpenter ants damage my camper?

Carpenter ants do not actually eat the wood. They build tunnels inside of the wood in order to create their nests.

It’s important to know that carpenter ants actually take years to do any significant damage.

So if you catch it quickly you may be able to salvage your wood.

The carpenter ants will scratch away and remove the wood as they go.

They create something called frass that is dropped into piles which can resemble sawdust.

A carpenter ant colony that is long-standing can easily deteriorate your structural foundation in the camper.

Whether that be a slide out or the actual body of the camper. ?

Carpenter ants can actually do as much damage to your wood as natural disasters.

That’s pretty crazy if you ask me.

If you don’t catch the problem in time carpenter ants nests can house several thousands of ants and consists of an extremely large network of galleries and tunnels that you’ll probably never see.

When are carpenter ants most active?

Carpenter ants are most active in the springtime and summer.

In places where there are storms and lots of wetness in the area.

Did you know carpenters ants have wings? I sure didn’t.

Not all of them but some.

These are called swarmers/reproductives. They get pushed out of the colony to mate, relocate, lay eggs, and start a new colony in the springtime. (March-April and can stay active all the way till October)

Carpenter ants are nocturnal. So if they are in your camper, they will come out mostly at night.

Which is exactly what happened to us the first night we “slept” in our camper as I mentioned above. (team no sleep) ?

They usually start scouring for food 15 minutes after sundown.

Only 10% of worker ants come out, so if there is a decent amount of ants in your camper after sundown, you may have a nest somewhere in the wood.

I must have killed around 20 that night, so you know we had a nest somewhere.

Carpenter ants move fast and only stop to share food or feed other ants.

I can tell you they know when you are near though. Every time I walked up on one of these guys their big ol’ heads turned around and literally looked at me!

Not kidding…

In the winter time, carpenter ant colonies become dormant, but if they are in your camper they may show activity during this time also.

If you found this article How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants in Your Camper helpful – leave a comment down below or share it with someone who may benefit from it as well. ?

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Jenn at Camperology

Hey there! Jenn here, I run this website. I live full time in my 2005 27' Fleetwood Terry Dakota with my son, partner, cat and dog. I created this website to help make your camper feel more like home while living in it full time. I enjoy finding new ways to organize and makeover my travel trailer, blogging, and drinking coffee.

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