How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

Effective Step-by-Step Guide: How to Eliminate Carpenter Ants

Avatar of author Ismael Girard
Ismael Girard
min read

Ever found yourself battling with carpenter ants and wondered how to eliminate them for good?

First, you have to locate their nests by following their trails and then use either natural baiting techniques or commercial non-repellent ant baits, to ensure they carry the poison back to the colony.

In this text, we'll share practical, proven strategies to eliminate these unwelcome guests. We'll walk you through:

✔️ Identifying carpenter ants

✔️ Understanding their behavior

✔️ Taking the right steps to eradicate them

Let's get into it!

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants? (3 Steps)

image of a person looking for ants in the attic

To get rid of carpenter ants, you first have to locate their nests, which is most likely in your backyard. Then you can attack the ant colony with baiting or spraying strategies. In this section, we'll guide you through every step needed to eradicate a carpenter ant infestation.

1. Look for Carpenter Ants Nest

Finding the habitat isn't always a walk in the park, but, increased activity during the night often gives them away. Like mentioned earlier, carpenter ants create their main spot outside in moist wood, possibly in tree stumps, firewood, or in the decaying part of a living tree.

To locate the nests:

  • Inspect at night: Use a flashlight to observe ant trails and locate entry points; it's always an effective way to start.
  • Follow them: Track where the ants are coming from and where they go.
  • Look for signs: Sawdust-like excrement near wooden structures indicates nesting sites.

2. Attack and Spray the Carpenter Ant Colony

Now, for the most important step: Attacking the carpenter ants! It's crucial to follow the best baiting techniques and to apply the best ant sprays around their hideouts.

Baiting Carpenter Ants

Baiting forms an integral part of carpenter ant control. Typically, we use two types of baits: protein-based and sugar-based. Periodically swap between the two to increase the efficacy as ant food preferences, found to vary over time and by season, remove ants from kitchen areas, and protect food supplies.

  • Multiple locations: Place baits in several spots where you have seen ant activity, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Near entry points: Place baits near entry points where ants are entering, such as window sills, doorways, and cracks.

Spraying Techniques

Can't locate the ants? Not a problem! Spraying the ants' favorite spots with non-repellent insecticides and kills them. Ensuring these insects carry the poisoned bait back to their nest, exterminating the whole colony is possible. Apply pesticides directly into nests if they are accessible. Use a dust or foam insecticide inside wall voids and other hard-to-reach places; this is how to kill wall ants effectively.

3. Preventing Future Carpenter Ant Infestations

The small carpenter ants' behavior is often predictable. In this section, we'll cover how you can prevent them from returning.

Maintenance Tips

Perform a regular check on your home for any signs of moisture as these ants are likely to establish colonies in these areas.

Take care to make repair structural damages, seal potential entry points with caulk and remove any food sources that may attract these pests.

Keep your property dry and clutter-free, making it less welcoming to these squatters.

World and Exterior Management

Your exterior space also bears a risk factor for carpenter ant infestations. Maintain a well-trimmed world, ensuring tree branches don't touch your home exteriors.

Clear away decaying wood from old trees, firewood piles, and tree stumps from the surroundings of your residential area. A clean and well-managed outdoor space lessens the attractiveness for these pests to set up camp near your home.

How to Choose the Right Products for Carpenter Ant Control?

After identifying the signals of a carpenter ant infestation, such as sawdust trails and wood damage, it's time to take action. Remember, the black ants can wreak havoc on your wooden structures if not dealt with promptly. Guided by research and expertise, we guide in selecting the best products for carpenter ants in this section.

Insecticides and Baits

When it comes to eliminating pesky intruders, picking the right tools is crucial. Pesticides and baits form the backbone of any effective ant removal strategy.

Carpenter Ant Pesticides

Insecticides offer a direct approach to carpenter ant control. Often, these come in a sprayer-friendly liquid format designed for easy application. Some top-notch choices include products from renowned brands such as Terro® and Raid®. But, consider the following when choosing an insecticide:

  • Effectiveness: Opt for proven products that work against the carpenter ant species in your area.
  • Safety: Ensure the product doesn’t pose risks to non-target animals and humans, especially if there are pets and kids around.
  • Environment Impact: Go for products with minimal environmental impact.

Carpenter Ant Baits

Baits, on the other hand, use the ants' feeding habits against them. Essentially, they allow the pest to carry the poison back to their colony, killing off the entire source. Some baits target the protein=gathering habits, while others focus on the sugar-feeding habits of the ants.

Selecting the ideal bait involves considering:

  • Bait Type: Carpenter ants tend towards both protein and sugar-based foods, so a mixed diet bait proves typically more effective.
  • Ease of Use: Opt for ready-to-use baits that require little to no preparation.
  • Safety: Just like with insecticides, consider the safety of non-target animals and humans.

Always remember, various carpenter ant colonies may react differently to the same bait or insecticide. Trial and error, coupled with constant vigilance, are key to achieving success in carpenter ant control.

How to Identify a Carpenter Ant Infestation?

Recognizing a carpenter ant starts with understanding the visual cues these insects leave behind. Pay close attention to the discreet physical damage they cause, which are often hidden within the structure of your house or in nearby woods. Let's investigate into specifics.

Visual Indicators of Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants will establish their habitat in moist and isolated places like damp wood, tree branches, cracks in walls, or even wall voids.

Here are some indicators to help you detect and identify carpenter ants:

  1. Carpenter Ant Trails: Much like other ant species, carpenter ants follow trails, moving from their nests to a food source. They generally feed on sugar and proteins, leading them to your food supplies or sweet substances around your house.
  2. Winged Carpenter Ants: It's common to spot winged carpenter ants, especially during the spring months. They are the reproductive members of the colony, taking flight to start new colonies.
  3. Sawdust Deposits: As carpenter ants tunnel through wood to create their nests, they may leave behind sawdust-like material known as 'frass.' This often indicates an active invasion within your structure.

Physical Signs of Carpenter Ants

Spotting physical clues of damage requires a closer look at the structural elements of your household. Here are few indications of Carpenter Ant damage:

  1. Hollowed-Out Wood: Carpenter ants prefer moist, decaying wood. So look for areas where wood may be excessively damp. Tapping these spots could produce a hollow sound, indicating the possible presence of a nest.
  2. Window and Door Damage: Inspect for any deformities around window sills and doors. Carpenter ants can also cause damage to these spaces.
  3. Visible Nest Openings: In extreme cases, you might actually see open nests where Carpenter ants pop in and out.

Recognizing the signals of a carpenter ant infestation is the first step towards control and prevention.

Carpenter Ants vs. Other Ants

Carpenter Ants differ substantially from other ant species. Viewing ants around your home doesn't indicate they live there, or in other words, doesn't mean you have a ant invasion.

Unlike most ants who prefer dirt or sand for their homes, Carpenter Ants choose damp or decaying wood. They're also generally larger, by an inch more, and are predominantly black, unlike many other species.

Carpenter Ants vs. Termites

Carpenter Ants and termites often get mistaken for each other due to their wood-dwelling propensity. But, differences exist between both.

First, termites consume wood while Carpenter Ants don't, they simply burrow into it for nesting.

Lastly, termites have straight antennae and a thick waist, differing from the elbowed antennae and thin waist of Carpenter Ants. Spotting the difference proves crucial in effective pest control; different strategies apply for handling each pest.


Make sure you're armed with the right knowledge to combat carpenter ants is half the battle won. Create a plan of action. Prep your home ahead of time, ready your arsenal of ant control products, and stay vigilant in tracking ant activity. This isn’t a one-time event but a continual process of monitoring and action.

Still, if the problem seems beyond your control or if you perceive the damage to the structure getting significant, do not hesitate to reach out to pest control professionals. It's best to err on the side of caution in such cases.

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Frequently asked questions

What are the differences between carpenter ants and termites?

Carpenter ants do not consume wood; they remove it to create nesting spaces, leaving behind sawdust trails, unlike termites that eat wood and leave smoother tunnels found elsewhere. Additionally, carpenter ants have elbowed antennae and a narrow waist, whereas termites have straight antennae and a thick waist.

What baiting techniques are effective against carpenter ants?

Use a combination of protein-based and sugar-based baits to exploit the varied dietary preferences of carpenter ants. Regularly alternating these baits can enhance their effectiveness, as carpenter ants' dietary needs can change.

What steps can I take to prevent future carpenter ant infestations?

Homeowners should maintain their property by managing water and moisture levels, repairing structural damages, and removing potential food sources. Additionally, keeping the outdoor area clean and free from decaying wood can deter carpenter ants from nesting nearby.