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How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

Have you looked around your home and noticed what appears to be sawdust around areas with wood, such as beneath window ledges, and realized you have been harboring carpenter ants? In this write-up, learn quick ways to detect and eliminate stubborn ants. Understand that carpenter ants are some of the most challenging insects to remove from their dwelling due to their eating and living habits. They are known to tunnel through walls and tend to be highly destructive. This article dwells on effective products and methods of how to get rid of carpenter ants and keep them out of your home completely.

What really are Carpenter Ants?

Carpenter ants are large and have a dark brown, yellow or red, black and red, or black coloration, and some have transparent or light brown wings and bent antennas. Since there are different species of carpenter ants, color and size cannot always be a reliable source of identification. You can distinguish the species from others by the rounded profile of thorax they bear, the hair around their anus, and their heart-shaped head.

Carpenter Ants Facts

These features can be seen clearly under magnification. They are a species of ants that prefer to make their nests in wood and form colonies in moist wooden areas. However, unlike beetles/termites, they do not feed on wood as is the popular misconception; rather use damp wood to create nests. The adults are normally between 6 and 12 mm, while the queens range from 18 to 20 mm in length. The forewings of the reproductive male and the queen are larger than the hind wings.

Do Carpenter Ants Bite?

Wondering if the ants can bite? Yes, they do. They bite when their nests are disturbed as a means of self-defense. Since they are quite large, the bite can be very painful. They are also scientifically proven to release a defensive chemical of formic acid. This acid can be directly sprayed to the already bitten body part, and this could, in turn, worsen the pain. Since they have a complex life cycle, it is advisable to control them as soon as possible.

What Do They Eat?

Carpenter ants are great lovers of sugar and protein. Protein such as dirty stove vent filter, food residue beneath dishwashers, and pet food crumbs plays a great role in enhancing a productive year of expansion. When outdoors, they eat both dead and living insects and when indoors, they eat pet food and meat, including jelly, honey, sugar, syrup, and sweet things.

Sweet eat of carpenter ants

Carpenter ants do most foraging at night, and the workers have been known to travel for about 100 yards to look for food. In fact, most of the indoor ants are the workers that get there searching for food to take back to the colony.

Note that these ants will mostly interact with your house when they are traveling back and forth to their damp living spaces such as decks, broken sinks, tubs, attic beams, wall voids, showers, etc. The ants can also lay their nest in foam insulation.

Signs there are Carpenter Ants in Your Home

Before focusing on how to get rid of carpenter ants or searching for the best ant killer, it is vital to be sure there are actual carpenter ants around:

  1. Frass: Carpenter ants burrow into wood to make nests, and this leaves behind sawdust-like deposits. Given that they cannot digest wood like termites, you should spot an accumulation of wood shavings in the area. In the pile you may also notice various ant body parts such as legs, given that they can still move after losing these parts or shedding their wings. If you notice this, it is a tell-tale sign you have an ant problem in your home.
  2. Swarmer: if you notice an unexpected emergence of swarmers especially in spring, look around for carpenter ants.
  3. Rustling: ant nests tend to get large very fast due to the multiplication of the insects. The many jaws working on wood to create a larger nest leaves behind some crunching and crinkling noise.
  4. Hollow Wood: when you tap on your wall, you should feel a difference with the presence of carpenter ant infestation. Ants mostly nest in walls, cabinets, structural wood, and beams that are a little damp. One infested sounds hollow.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

The first step towards exterminating carpenter ants is to identify their nest. After spotting the colony, it is time to get down on an extermination process. Pay attention to areas that have moist wood. You can choose between pesticides and a natural homemade ant killer. This calls for each homeowner to decide on what works best for their case. It is advisable to start off with a homemade remedy as this is a safer way of eliminating insects.

Keeping Out Black Carpenter Ants

Black carpenter ants are the most common type of this class of ants. They are normally of moderate size, most of them containing more than 3000 workers within 3 to 6 years. To eliminate the ants from your house, focus on sources of moisture first. Understand that the ants need water to survive, and will, therefore, use tree branches and plants to get into your house.


Ensure all vegetation and tree branches are cut back from your house. Look for cracks and other openings in your home and ensure they are completely sealed. Most times the carpenter ants use them to get access to your home water sources and food. 

Stacks of wood must also be stored away from your house, as the ants use them to make nests. Black carpenter ants can be eliminated through the application of sprays and insecticides in forms such as baits, dust, foams, and concentrates.

Effective Products

There are at least four known methods of applying pesticides, including interior void treatment, exterior perimeter treatment, baiting, and treating the infested wood.

Never use bait and a pesticide in the same area to destroy carpenter ants. This is the quickest way to contaminate treatment. Also, never use the same container for baits and pesticides.

Interior void treatment: With the availability of foaming applications and insecticide dusts, it is not easy to conduct interior void treatment. Sometimes, dust can be applied but fail to act on the carpenter ants, and this is where the insecticide comes in. Dust fails to be effective when applied inappropriately. It is therefore important to make use of an electric duster. You can use delta dust or Drione Dust in infested interior areas. Drione for instance is highly effective in dry areas while Delta works best in moisture filled areas.

Perimeter insecticide treatment: commonly used and effective method of eliminating carpenter ants is the use of an approved ant spray or dust. Some of the best products on the market are Cyper WP, Tarstar Concentrate, and D-Fense SC.

Cyper WP: This powerful odorless concentrate can be used on the exterior, indoors, and outdoors. It is an active ingredient cypermethrin that has been proved to control ants for up to 3 months. It destroys ants by attacking their central nervous system. Due to its high concentration of active ingredient, it is ideal for tough insects such as carpenter ants.

Tarstar Concentrate: This can be found in the form of granular or liquid concentration. It is one of the safest to use in a home as it does not harm pets and other non-target animals. It is highly effective in controlling carpenter ants.

D-Fense SC: D-Fense  has about 5 percent of pure microcrystals of Deltamethrin. It is odorless and harmless in that it can be used in a home with kids and pets. It offers about a 3 month residual.

Spot Treatment: Bora-care can be used to exterminate localized carpenter ants. Bora-care can be directly injected into the wood where the ants form a nest. To prevent colony relocation, it is vital to treat the entire area surrounding the nest. When subjected to a pesticide, carpenter ants tend to fragment their colony. Focus on areas showing signs of damage such as walls and the attic. Bora-care does not mess the painting, is odorless, and does not stain or change the appearance of wood. More so, it is non-toxic to non-target animals and humans. When dealing with a confined area, it would be more effective to use a foaming device. If the area is heavily infested, spray the pesticide directly after foaming.

Carpenter Ant Baits

The most efficient means of killing carpenter ants is by using baits. It is a method used when the nest is hidden and inaccessible. The baits decrease the population of the ants and reduce their chances of getting into a structure.

The following are some of the ant baits you can use in your home:

Terro Perimeter Ant Bait Plus: the weather resistant ant bait granules are packed in a 2 lb shaker bottle, and this makes it easy to spread the chemical in the infested area. It is a slow killer, allowing the carpenter ants to carry the product back to the colony, and kills both visible and hidden carpenter ants.

Advance Carpenter Ant Bait: It comes with special small granule size attractant, making it one of the most effective ant bait. It can be applied inside and outside of your home. The bait works by allowing the foraging workers to get back to the colony and feed the queen, which in turn, eliminates the colony.

Niban Granular Bait: Niban is a virtually odorless moisture resistant ant bait that can be applied in both exterior and interior settings. It is applied in drop ceilings, crawl spaces, cellars, and attics to target the carpenter ants. The bait is easy to apply with a crusader duster to ensure the solution penetrates deep into the nest. It blocks enzyme production in the ants leading to starvation. It also kills microorganisms in the ant’s stomach. Niban has a concentration of 5 percent boric acid.

Maxforce Gel Carpenter Ant Bait: this has superior ant attractants (honeydew) that eliminate carpenter ant colonies quickly. Worker ants are given enough time to carry the substance to the colony. Using an insecticide in the same area this bait is used can contaminate it and cause worker ants to die before sharing the bait with the colony.

Carpenter Ant Prevention

  • Work on moisture prone areas such as roof and plumbing leaks.
  • Cut bridges that could lead the ants into your structure such as tree branches and limbs.
  • Seal all openings around your foundation.
  • Stack furniture and wooden items away from your house.
  • Prevent further infestation by ant-proofing your home through clearing lumber piles and rotting trees.

Everyone finds ants in their home from time to time. However, some especially carpenter ants are not just annoying but destructive too. If there is a colony in your home already, the best move would be to eliminate them completely as soon as possible. With the remedies provided on how to get rid of carpenter ants, you should now be well guarded in getting rid of them.