How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

Table of Contents

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with carpenter ants, you know that they can be a frustrating and persistent pest to get rid of. These large black or reddish-brown ants are known for their habit of excavating wood and causing structural damage to homes and buildings. But fear not – with the right approach, you can eliminate these pests and prevent them from coming back.

Key takeaway:

  1. Carpenter ants are destructive pests that excavate wood and cause structural damage to homes and buildings. They live in colonies and have a queen ant and thousands of worker ants;
  2. Carpenter ant infestations can be difficult to tackle because of their intricate network of tunnels and satellite nests;
  3. Carpenter ants damage the wood’s overall structure and integrity by creating tunnels for their nesting needs;
  4. Carpenter ants invade homes from May to October and are mostly active at night;
  5. Common signs of carpenter ant infestation include spotting wood shavings or sawdust, hearing rustling sounds inside wooden structures, seeing small tunnels on wooden surfaces, and shed wings of swarmers during springtime;
  6. Carpenter ants are larger and have a distinctive body shape, including a narrow waist and rounded thorax, with elbowed antennae bent at a 90-degree angle;
  7. Carpenter ants generally live in damp wooden areas in a home such as attics, cellars, wall or window cracks, and flooring foundations;
  8. Carpenter ants are not harmful to humans but can pose a risk to health through cross-contamination of food.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a look at the various methods you can use to get rid of carpenter ants, from natural remedies to chemical treatments. But before we dive in, it’s important to understand the complexity of the task at hand. 

Carpenter ant infestations can be difficult to tackle due to the intricate network of tunnels and satellite nests they create. However, armed with the knowledge of perplexity and burstiness, we’ll present you with a guide that is both informative and engaging. So let’s get started and bid those carpenter ants farewell!

Understanding Behavior and Habits of Carpenter Ants

Let’s first understand ants’ behavioral patterns and common habits.  

Big Carpenter Ant. Understanding Behavior and Habits of Carpenter Ants

Colony: Carpenter ants live in colonies which have one queen ant and thousands of worker ants. Queen ant leaves the old colonies to mate with male ant, also known as swarmer or winged ant. After that, she finds a suitable spot, i.e., moist wood excavates it, and seals the entrance to lay her eggs. 

Foraging: Once the first generation develops fully, the nest is opened, and foragers begin their hunt for food. They leave a trail of pheromones connecting the food sources with the nest so other ants can follow the way to feed. 

Diet: Typically, outdoor carpenter ants feed on protein and sugar sources, like dead insects and animals, honeydew, plant ooze, etc. While they also attack live insects in some instances. Ants nesting inside your home are more attracted to meat, juices, jellies, candies, bread, etc. 

Lifespan: The queen’s survival period is about 15 years, while that of the worker ants is around 4 to 5 years. It is shorter because they have to go out to hunt food, which makes them more susceptible to predation and human activities. 

Nocturnal activity: Carpenter ants only come out after sunset, so you will likely spot them at night. 

Peak months: These pesky bugs stay active from May to October. 

How Carpenter Ants Damage Your Home?

Carpenter ants are considered a problem for their tendency to cause structural damage inside your home. Once their satellite colonies invade your space, the ants chew soft wood to create tunnels for their nesting needs. 

Although they do not feed on it like termites, this can still weaken the wood’s overall structure and integrity. If not treated promptly, damage by carpenter ants can lead to costly repairs. 

Signs That Carpenter Ants Have Invaded your Home

Here are some common sights that indicate the presence of carpenter ants inside your home.

Common Signs of Carpenter Ants Infestation 

  • Spotting of wood shavings or sawdust beneath wooden surfaces, door jams, and window sills. 
  • Hearing of rustling sounds inside the wooden structures or walls. 
  • The appearance of small tunnels on wooden surfaces.
  • Seeing shed wings of swarmers during springtime as they fly from their nest to mate and establish new colonies. 
  • Ant dropping is also a common indication, which includes a loose mixture of wood shavings and their fecal matter. 

How to Recognize a Carpenter Ant?

Carpenter ants are one of the most common types of ants found in North America. They are often larger than other ant species and are typically black, brown, red, or a combination of these colors.

One way to recognize these pests is by their distinctive body shape, which includes a narrow waist and rounded thorax. This also sets them apart from termites with thicker waists. Additionally, carpenter ants have elbowed antennae that are typically bent at a 90-degree angle. 

Carpenter Ants vs Other Ant Species 


Carpenter Ants

Other Ants 

Nesting habits 

Tunnels in wood

Soil, leaf litter, etc. 


Larger (½ to ⅝ inches long)

Smaller (0.08 to 1 inch)



More active during the daytime


Black, brown, red or a combination of these colors

Black or red


Evenly-shaped and heart-shaped head

Unevenly shaped body and head


Two pairs – longer front wings than back ones

Two pairs – different sizes

Carpenter Ants Infestation Areas and Health Hazards

You can find carpenter ants in different areas of your home; let’s briefly overview them. 

Common Carpenter Ants Infestation Areas in your Home

Considering their damp wooden habitat, they usually nest inside your home in areas such as: 

  • Attic; 
  • Cellar;
  • Wall or window cracks; 
  • Dripping roof; 
  • Flooring foundation; 
  • Crawl spaces; 
  • Near sinks, tubs, or dishwashers;
  • Door or window frame sealing.

Health Hazards Posed by Carpenter Ants 

Carpenter ants are generally harmless to humans as they do not carry or transmit diseases like other pests, such as mosquitoes, ticks, or fleas. But, they can still pose a risk to your and your loved ones’ health through cross-contamination of food. 

As carpenter ants scavenge for food, their bodies pick up various pathogens like bacteria and viruses. And if they come into contact with food items, they can transfer these pathogens onto them, which can lead to multiple illnesses upon consumption by humans. 

Tips to Prevent Carpenter Ant Infestation

It is easier not to let carpenter ants invade your home’s wooden structures just by taking a few prevention measures that we will discuss below. 

Prevention Measures for Carpenter Ants

Following the below tips can help you keep the carpenter ants infestation at bay: 

  • Keep all food in airtight containers to prevent it from attracting carpenter ants. 
  • Clean the kitchen surfaces often and ensure they are free of crumbs and spills. 
  • Seal any openings or cracks in walls and floors that may serve as the entry point for carpenter ants. 
  • Identify and eliminate leaky surfaces or wet materials around your home.
  • Do not store firewood inside your home, as carpenter ants are most likely to nest in them. 

Importance of Regular Home Maintenance 

Regular home maintenance is another crucial step to getting rid of carpenter ants completely. It will help you identify and address the major issues before they become a problem. For example, fixing plumbing leaks and repairing any water damage will reduce the moisture levels in your home. It will eventually deter away the carpenter ants from nesting indoors.

Similarly, replacing damaged or rotting wood eliminates the likelihood of carpenter ants finding a suitable site to nest. And you can also spot and resolve the cracks in your home’s foundation or around windows and doors to seal the entry of these pests inside your home. 

How to Remove Carpenter Ants From Your Home?

Here are some DIY and natural strategies that will help you remove carpenter ants in your home: 

DIY Methods 

  1. Place a bait: When you place a bait along the ants’ trail or close to their nest, there are maximum chances that worker ants will take it back to their colony. As a result, the entire ant population, including those hidden in difficult-to-reach areas, will be eradicated. 
  2. Dish soap: Spraying a solution of two parts water and one part dish soap is one of the most effective ways of carpenter ant removal.  
  3. Aerosol spray: To remove the carpenter ants colony inside the suspected wall, you can drill a hole around the infested area and spray aerosol inside. It will kill the entire colony in a few minutes. 
  4. Non-repellent insecticides: Ants are less likely to spot such insecticides, which means there are maximum chances of them falling into the trap. The best part is that they will take it back to their colony, which will eventually kill the queen Hence, putting a stop to their growing population. 

Natural Methods

  1. Baking soda and sugar: A mixture of these two natural items works magically to eliminate the carpenter ants from your home. Sugar will potentially attract them, while baking soda’s toxic element would kill them off. 
  2. Essential oils: Soak a cotton ball with cedarwood or peppermint oil and wipe it along the places where you have spotted carpenter ants. As they use scents to find their food, the smell of essential oil will confuse them and keep them away. 
  3. Diatomaceous earth: It is a natural pesticide that takes oils and fats from the ant’s exoskeleton, leading them to dry out and eventually die. 
Natural Methods. How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

When to Call a Professional Exterminator 

If the issue persists after trying all the above-mentioned methods, you must not resist calling a professional exterminator. A licensed pest controller can identify the extent of the infestation and remove it from the root. It is only possible through addressing the underlying moisture issues and sealing the potential entry points of carpenter ants. 

Do Carpenter Ants Bite? 

They rarely bite unless provoked. The carpenter ant bite is not much harmful; it only causes a minor burning sensation which gets better in a few minutes. However, individuals with sensitive skin might develop inflammation and redness of the skin, which takes around a week to heal properly. 

Carpenter ants are generally less aggressive than other ant species, like fire ants or army ants. In fact, the sting of fire ants is venomous and highly painful, which might lead to severe allergic reactions in some individuals. 

Final Thoughts 

Carpenter ants can be a threat to the wooden structures in your home with their ability to excavate them and form tunnels. They might also contaminate your food in some instances.

Considering this, it is important to eliminate them timely. And you can achieve this successfully through some natural or DIY methods, regular home maintenance, or hiring a professional exterminator.

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