Want to learn how to get rid of carpenter ants? Read this post to the end to discover 20 easy ways to get rid of carpenter ants for good.
Carpenter ants are small, usually black, ants that like to nest in damp woods.
Like termites, they can easily infest wooden infrastructure within homes, driving every homeowner crazy. Fortunately, there are many solutions on how to get rid of carpenter ants within your premises.
Unlike termites that feed on wood, carpenter ants hollow out portions of wood to build their nests. They create galleries (tiny grooves) in damp wooden structure to create passageways.
Without any treatment, these tiny insects can cause widespread damage to that particular wood. They can also develop more nests in other wooden structures.
The common methods on how to get rid of carpenter ants in house include diatomaceous earth, baits, insecticides, and natural treatments.
The first thing that you need to do is to identify the pesky creature you are dealing with correctly. You want your baits and pesticides to work effectively.
- Signs of Carpenter Ants
- How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants
- 1. Locate the Nest
- 2. Decide Which Control Measure
- 3. Set Baits
- 4. Insecticide Spray
- 5. Drill Holes (Treating Voids)
- 6. Boric Acid
- 7. Diatomaceous Earth
- 8. Boiling Water
- 9. Cream of Wheat
- 10. Cinnamon
- 11. Sugar and Baking Soda
- 12. Clean Up Regularly
- 13. Seal Up Entry Points
- 14. Remove Wood Materials
- 15. Eliminate Sources of Moisture
- 16. Vinegar
- 17. Dish Soap
- 18. Glue Traps
- 19. Lemon
- 20. Call an Exterminator
Signs of Carpenter Ants
Like termites, carpenter ants can damage any wood in your house. You can tell if the damages are done by ants when you see small tunnels with piles of dust behind. Termites eat wood whereas carpenter ants burrow through walls, ceilings, doors and other wooden items.
1. Ants around your home – Ants do not usually indicate an infestation. However, a large number of these insects inside your home can be a sign that there is a nest inside.
2. Frass – These are sawdust-like material that carpenter ants leave behind as they burrow through the wood to create nests. In the pile of frass, you may also notice some of their body parts.
3. Rustling sounds – Carpenter ants work on wood to make large nests, and they leave crinkling, crunching and rustling noise.
4. Hollow wood – Another way to figure out if carpenter ants have infested your home is by tapping on damp wall, cabinets or beams. The affected areas will sound hollow.
How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants
Here are the best solutions on how to eliminate carpenter ants present in your home.
1. Locate the Nest
Before implementing any of the solutions below, it is important to find their nest to make sure that you are dealing with carpenter ants. Some insects like termites may look similar to carpenter ants and will require a different method.
- Look for a sawdust-like material (frass) around wooden structures. These are left behind by carpenter ants while building their nests. If you notice this debris around your house, there is a high chance that you have an ant infestation.
- Check for any wood damage. Ants like to nest in woods, such as cabinets, hollow doors, structural wood, beams, and walls. When you tap on wooden walls, you would feel the difference when there is an infestation.
- Another way to find their nest is by setting out bait. You will need to lure them out with sugary fruits or honey and trail them back so you can determine where they are hiding.
2. Decide Which Control Measure
You can control carpenter ants by applying sprays and insecticides in various forms. Depending on the severity of infestation, you can use:
- Dusts or foams – to get rid of carpenter ants nesting in voids and galleries.
- Baits – to use for their trails.
- Non-repellent pesticide – used as perimeter spray. It is usually combined with baits.
- Natural methods – for minor problems.
Just make sure that you are dealing with carpenter ants and not termites. In some cases, termite infestations require a professional to successfully get rid of all of them.
3. Set Baits
You can bait to kill carpenter ants within a few days. Working ants will take the bait and share it with the rest of them, including their queen.
When placing baits in infested areas, keep repellent insecticides away as it will make the bait ineffective. Make sure that you also remove other food sources like candies, sweet fruits, pet food and crumbs that may stop ants from taking your bait.
- Maxforce Carpenter Ant Bait
- Advance Granular Carpenter Ant Bait
- Terro 1806 Outdoor Liquid Ant Bait
- Carpenter Ant Control Kit Bait
These products are designed to lure ants so they can take the bait to their queen hiding in the nest. These also contain sweet food sources for carpenter ants. Alternatively, you can make your own bait by following some of the solutions below.
4. Insecticide Spray
You can use insecticide spray to kill scavenging ants that try to enter your home. To block them, you can use non-repellent pesticides as a perimeter treatment.
Some sprays will kill these insects right away. There are also products that coat their bodies to kill them gradually so that the toxic chemical has a change to reach their nest.
If you want to get insecticide spray, here are some of the effective carpenter ant sprays that you can purchase:
- TERRO Carpenter Ant & Termite Killer Aerosol Spray
- Spectracide Terminate Termite & Carpenter Ant Killer2
- Bayer Advanced 700310 Carpenter Ant and Termite Killer Plus Concentrate
Most sprays for carpenter ants are also effective against termites, cockroaches, spiders, ticks, centipedes, millipedes and other insects. It is crucial to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and keep these products away from children and pets.
5. Drill Holes (Treating Voids)
If you are dealing with voids, it is not recommended to use liquid insecticide. Voids or indoor nests are found in window sills, behind baseboards, hollow doors, and other hollow areas.
Indoor carpenter ant infestation can sometimes be a sign of wood decay or water damage. You can prevent re-infestation by repairing your items.
One of the best methods on how to get rid of carpenter ants in your house is by drilling small holes in voids. Sprinkle insecticide dust or aerosol in the area.
You can use Alpine Aerosol, D Fense Dust or foams like Alpine Ant & Termite Foam.
Once you find their nest indoors, treat them with aerosol sprays or foam. If treated early, damages to your house can be avoided.
If you find a large colony burrowed inside your walls, it is best to call a professional. Do not cut try to remove or cut the wood as it will compromise the structure of your house.
6. Boric Acid
Boric acid is an odorless powder that kills carpenter ants and other pests. It contains active minerals that have fungicidal, herbicidal, and insecticidal properties. You can use boric acid in powder or liquid form to control the infestation.
- To use boric acid powder, simply inject it into cracks, crevices, and other areas where infestations may be present. As carpenter ants crawl through the dust, borax will stick to their legs and they will ingest the poison when they start grooming. It will poison them and lead these insects to their demise.
- You can also use it as bait by mixing 1 tablespoon of boric acid with 1 teaspoon of sugar in a bowl. Then, add four ounces of water and mix the ingredients. You can also add honey or peanut butter.
- Set it down near their nests and you will soon find ants approaching the mixture. Boric acid will penetrate their bodies and kill them eventually.
Keep boric acid bait out of reach of pets and children as they may get sick after contact with this mixture.
7. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is one of the best solutions on how to get rid of carpenter ants in the house.
It is a mineral substance that has drying properties. With direct contact, diatomaceous earth will pierce their exoskeleton and they will eventually lose their bodily liquids.
- After locating the nests of carpenter ants, sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the area and into their tunnels.
- You can also sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth around infested trees or plants. It is one of the effective methods on how to get rid of carpenter ants in trees.
- Other chemical dusts that you can use are Drione Pest Insecticide Dust and Delta Dust, but these products contain toxins that may pose health risks to children and pets.
Limit exposure while using this treatment. Keep it away from children and pets. The effects of diatomaceous earth on humans and animals include skin and lung irritation.
8. Boiling Water
If you are lucky to find their nest outside, boiling water is one of the best methods on how to get rid of large ant hills.
The nest is where the carpenter queen hides can live up to fifteen years. Without finding the exact location of the nest, any of the solutions will not be able to eradicate all these insects as the queen will keep on laying eggs.
- Simply boil a large pot of hot water. Pour it directly on their nest to eliminate these insects. Make sure that you pour it into the hole in the center.
- You can also mix in a few drops of soap or cedar oil in hot water to suffocate and kill them quickly.
Destroy mature nests you may find outside. These are usually in rotting wood.
Try to open their nest and drench it with boiled water or a mixture of ant killer and water. This technique will kill the queen along with other working ants.
9. Cream of Wheat
This common breakfast cereal is also effective in killing ants. You can sprinkle a small amount of it in areas where you often see them.
- When the ants eat cream of wheat, it will create a reaction in their body and cause expansion. Ants that ingested the product will burst within a few hours.
- Spread it on kitchen counters, entry points, and other areas where they usually gather.
Consider applying flavored cream of wheat to attract carpenter ants. Go for sweet versions but do not to use products with cinnamon as it repels them.
Cinnamon can be used to deter carpenter ants. These insects do not like the scent and will stop from entering your home.
This treatment won’t kill them, but it will prevent ants from nesting in your walls, windows or doors.
How do you get rid of carpenter ants naturally using cinnamon? You can use cinnamon in oil, sticks, or powdered form.
- The easiest way to use cinnamon is to sprinkle it on them and at all entry sites. The smell of cinnamon will disrupt their trails and will stop them from coming inside your house.
- Another option is to use a cotton swab to make a barrier line to prevent ants from crossing.
- Cinnamon essential oil is more powerful against carpenter ants than powdered form. You can make a natural spray by mixing ¼ cup of water, ¼ cup of vodka, and 20-25 drops of cinnamon oil. Shake it well and transfer the mixture to a spray bottle.
If you have some cinnamon sticks, you also place them near entrances to deter ants.
11. Sugar and Baking Soda
If you are looking for another natural method on how to get rid of carpenter ants, you can use sugar mixed with baking soda to lure them.
- Mix equal parts of sugar and baking soda.
- Sprinkle small amounts in areas near the infestations. Ants will soon pick up the mixture and take it to their nest.
Ants have an acidic substance in their bodies, which will react as soon as they ingest baking soda. This method may not provide instant results, but it is highly effective.
Scavenging ants will carry both sugar and baking soda to their nest, where other ants and the queen will eat.
12. Clean Up Regularly
Ants wander around the house to look for food sources. They signal other ants to “report” whether they find food or not in your kitchen.
- Ants are attracted to sugary foods, so cleaning up spillages and crumbs immediately is important before these insects arrive.
- Clean up your dining area, kitchen and all areas of your house to make it an unpleasant environment for carpenter ants. It is one of the best solutions on how to get rid of carpenter ants naturally.
- Remove any clutter and fix all faucets that may provide a breeding ground for them.
Cleaning your house regularly will prevent not only ants but also other insects from entering your home.
13. Seal Up Entry Points
Inspect your home for holes, cracks, and small spaces that let carpenter ants and other insects in. Check exterior walls carefully and pay more attention to the areas close to the foundation and ground.
- Using caulk or putty, seal all small holes, crevices and cracks around windows, doors and other areas where carpenter ants and other tiny insects could enter.
- Do not forget to check around the areas where electrical lines and water enter your premises. These points are usually prone to infestations.
If ants keep on coming back, consider installing artificial barriers to discourage them from entering your house.
14. Remove Wood Materials
Whether it is inside or outside, these annoying creatures like to nest in wood. One of the best solutions on how to get rid of carpenter ants outside your home is by eliminating all wood materials.
Once they start nesting near your home, these creatures can easily find their way inside your premises to look for food sources.
Inspect any wood sources near your place. Dispose of infested woods carefully or pour boiling water on it to eradicate them quickly. Check piles of yard, firewood piles, stumps and old trees for any infestation.
15. Eliminate Sources of Moisture
Moisture is one of the main factors that contribute to carpenter ant infestations. It also invites other insects like roaches, mosquitoes and termites to settle in your place.
- You can prevent insects from entering your house by sealing or fixing any leaks.
- Inspect your walls and roof for possible leaks.
- Clean gutters regularly to keep insects from coming near your home.
- Keep attics, basements and other small spaces well-ventilated to prevent moisture from building up.
- Inspect all your windows and doors for any signs of sealing problems.
Removing all possible sources of moisture makes it more challenging for carpenter ants to nest in or outside your home.
Apple cider vinegar and white vinegar are effective against carpenter ants. Both have insecticidal and fungicidal properties that can be deadly to these creatures.
So how do you get rid of carpenter ants with vinegar? Follow these simple steps.
- Pour undiluted vinegar in an empty spray bottle.
- You can also mix in 1 tablespoon of eucalyptus or peppermint oil to make it more powerful.
- Mix it well and spray on areas where you usually see ants crawling.
- Spray it directly on ants you see.
This treatment will prevent them from wanting to enter your home. If you know where their nest is, you can pour 0.5 to 1 liter of vinegar over and around their nest to kill them quickly.
17. Dish Soap
Another effective treatment that you can use to kill carpenter ants and other insects is dish soap spray. Mixing it with cooking oil with dehydrate these small creatures to death.
- Combine 1/3 part of liquid dish soap and 2/3 part of water in a spray bottle.
- Add 1 teaspoon of cooking oil.
- Shake it well and spray it on all visible ants.
- Spray the solution on areas where you always see ants, but this process will only remain effective while the area is still wet.
This solution will suffocate and dehydrate the ants. Simply wipe their dead bodies with a wet cloth.
18. Glue Traps
Glue traps for carpenter ants and other insects are non-toxic. This method is also one of the best solutions on how to get rid of carpenter ants with wings.
- Buy some yellow glue traps and place them near infested areas.
- Alternatively, you can make your own trap by coating a yellow paper with a paste made with honey or corn syrup and water.
- Avoid placing these traps in areas that children or pets have access.
After two or three days, these traps should be coated in carpenter ants and other insects. Throw them carefully and make more traps.
Another effective natural remedy to get rid of carpenter ants is lemon water. These creatures do not like the scent of citrus fruits, especially lemons and limes.
- To make this natural solution, mix some fresh lemon juice with water in a spray bottle. Then, use it around infested areas. Keep on spraying to repel ants from entering your home. This method will also give your home a nice citrus scent.
- Alternatively, you can make a spray by adding citrus peels in a pot. Add vinegar and heat the mixture. Turn off the stove when it is steaming hot and not boiling. Let it sit for 4 to 6 few hours.
Then, strain the liquid and pour it into a spray bottle. Spritz the mixture on areas where you always see ants.
20. Call an Exterminator
Most ant problems can be controlled with natural remedies or consumer products. When it comes to severe infestations, you may need to seek help from a professional exterminator.
Exterminators use chemicals that are more powerful than those products readily-available in the market. They can also evaluate the situation better and know which method to use to solve the problem.
Make sure that you let the exterminator know if you have pets, small children or other concerns so that he can take precautions before implementing poisons and traps needed.
Carpenter ants can make homeowners frustrated as they can cause a lot of damage. Like termites, these creatures can destroy your wooden structures if left unnoticed.
In case of infestation, there are plenty of things that you can try to eliminate them.
Keep in mind that you also need to make sure that your home is free from plumbing problems, leaks, and excessive moisture. Because carpenter ants like to nest in firewood, it is best to stack them away from your house.
Try some of the solutions mentioned above on how to get rid of carpenter ants. If you are not sure about the type of insect or you cannot get rid of their nest, call a professional.