How to get rid of carpenter ants

It is not only annoying but also destructive to have ants in your house, especially if they are carpenter ants. These small creatures can seriously damage your furniture, as well as other wooden stuff including floor, doors, walls and even ceiling. Carpenter ants are very often confused with termites, but unlike the latter they do not eat wood. Instead they nest inside by excavating galleries and tunnels. This type of ants is especially active in spring time, and their favourite type of wood is rotting. That is why their nests are usually found in such places as around sinks, dishwashers, shower or behind bathroom tiles. Even though humidity is very important for carpenter ants and their eggs, they can be also found in dry places without moisture as well.  The main problem with carpenter ants is that their damage is unnoticed in the beginning, and it becomes obvious only when destruction is already very significant.  It might be problematic to get rid of carpenter ants, and if you have faced this problem, we have written this article for you with the detailed guide on killing these small destructive critters.

How do carpenter ants look like

Before engaging in fight against carpenter ants, you should know how they actually look like in order to be able to distinguish them from other insects and types of ants.  A carpenter ant can be different colors including black, have black, yellow, dark brown or even red. With regards to their size, they are quite big – between 3.4 and 13 mm. However, since there are several types of carpenter ants with different appearance that exist on the same territory, it is not possible to rely completely on such visual characteristics as the size and color in order to identify them. What really helps to differentiate them from other types of ants are the heart-shaped head, rounded profile of the thorax, and the circle of hairs around their anus. Regarding the eggs of carpenter ants, they have an oval share and are cream colored.

What is the difference between Black Ants and Carpenter Ants?

Both Black Ants and Carpenter Ants are among the most common types of ants, especially in North America. Though these two types are quite similar and it is quite complicated to differentiate carpenter ants from black ants at a glance, there are some ways that help you to differentiate them. First of all, carpenter ants are usually much larger than black ants. Moreover, they are more likely to have doubled wings, and if it is a reproductive threat its front wings are longer than back wings. Another distinctive characteristic is a head:  as it has been mentioned above, carpenter ants have a heart-shaped head. Finally, take a closer look at their thorax: black ants have an uneven thorax, while the thorax of carpenter ants is smoothly rounded.  But, in addition to their appearance, there is also difference in their presence in your home. Thus, black ants are real nuisance and can be described as unwelcome guests. But in contrast to carpenter ants they do not really live in our houses and do not cause any physical damage.


Signs of carpenter ants in the house

One of the first steps to getting rid of carpenter ants is to find out whether you have them in your house or not. There are several certain signs that help you to understand that your home is invaded by these creatures.  They are the following:


  • Rustling sound.  If the infestation is very significant, you might probably hear rustling faint sound that comes from the walls of your house. To make sure you can do a certain test: knock on the wall first and then press your ear against it. If you hear the sound that is similar to crinkling cellophane, it is almost certainly that there are ants inside of your walls.  This kind of sound is an indicator of a very extreme and serious infestation, so you will need to call a specialist as soon as possible.
  • Sawdust around the house. If you see little piles of wood shavings or sawdust around the house, you can be pretty sure that there is a colony of carpenter ants building nests in the wooden stuff of your house. The first thing that you should do in such case is either to conduct careful inspection of the house by yourself, or to call a professional examinator who will do it for you.
  • The presence of winged adults.  During spring and winter time look for winged ants in your house, especially near the windows. If you find any, it will mean that there is a nest of the colony somewhere inside the house because usually carpenter ants are not found at the distance more than 30 feet from their nests.


How to kill carpenter ants

If it is confirmed that you unfortunately have carpenter ants in your house, the following question arises: how to kill carpenter ants and to get rid of them forever?  Fortunately, there are quite many different options, and the choice of a particular remedy and treatment will depend on your exact situation.

What type of Carpenter Ant Baits Work

If you faced such a serious problem as carpenter ants infestation, then you will need something actually works, no matter how expensive it is.  One of the best and the most effective ways to fight with carpenter ants is to use baits. Baiting is one of the best methods because baits brought by ants to the colony kills the queen and as a result disrupts the whole reproductive cycle in the nest. Below we provide the reviews of the most effective baits that actually work and will be definitely helpful in your fighting with carpenter ants.


  • Maxforce Carpenter Ant Gel.  This gel contains a bait that attracts ants and then makes them to spread insecticide in the colony.  For the best result it is recommended to apply the gel to the holes and cracks on the floor or in the walls not far from the nest. This gel has been proven to be a very effective one, since only 6 drops from the tube is enough in order to kill the whole colony. One of the best advantages of this gel is that it does not have any unpleasant smell, which makes it perfect for indoor use.
  • Carpenter Ant Control Kit. This kit comes in two different forms – as gel and granular, so it is able to target different types of carpenter ants. The bait of the kit contains fat, sweet and protein based substances for attracting ants.  It can boast of quite fast acting results within just one use: you will notice how ants start disappearing after 3-6 days of use.
  • Advance Carpenter Ant Bait. It is a fat and protein based granule bait that contains a very active ingredient called “abamectin”. It has been rated as one of the top effective and nontoxic elements at getting rid of carpenter ants. Since this bait is weather resistant, it is good to use it outdoors. The main advantage of this product is that it is easy to use: you just need to apply the granules of it in the places where the ants are coming from, including wood piles, dead trees, and etc.
  • TERRO Outdoor Liquid Ant Baits. This product is based on a sweet borax liquid that is very attractive to ants.  The main component of it is a slow-acting insecticide that spreads throughout the colony very fast and kills the ants that you cannot even see. This bait is considered to be one of the most long-term solutions for the carpenter ants problem available on the market today.


Home remedies for carpenter ants

If you do not want to use any chemicals and prefer more natural ways to get rid of ants, then there are a plenty of home remedies that are as effective as the products that have been described above.


  • Boric acid.  It is probably the easiest and one of the most non-toxic insecticides that will help you to kill annoying carpenter ants very quickly without any threat to your health or the health of your family members. All you need to do is just to sprinkle it around your house or use it as a spray for the nest by mixing it with water. You will not have a problem finding boric acid: you can easily purchase it in any hardware shop or pharmacy.
  • Cedar oil. It is another great and effective natural insecticide used for killing carpenter ants. Contact with this essential oil makes carpenter ants to suffer from dehydration and die. In addition, cedar oil has also capacity to emulsify the body fats of these insects, which causes their death.  Thus, it is not surprising that cedar oil is considered to be the most effective essential oil in getting rid of ants. The best way to use it is to spray it around your home and basement or directly on the nest if you know its exact location.
  • Liquid dish soap.  You can mix dish soap with water and shake it well by making the solution. For the best results it is also good to add to this mixture some baking soda. This solution is a great method for getting rid of insects because it does not only kill ants, but also acts as a great cleaning solution.
  • Vinegar.  Another natural and easy solution for fighting with carpenter ants in your house is the mixture of vinegar and water in equal parts. Use this solution as a spray and apply it to windowsills, doors, and any other places where you notice ants or their traces.  You can also clean your windows, walls, floors and furniture with this mixture which will make your house very clean.
  • Cinnamon. Since carpenter ants hate the smell of cinnamon, it is considered to be one of the most effective natural remedies against these little creatures. You can use cinnamon in many different ways: either to place ground cinnamon it in affected areas or to prepare the spray solution for spraying it in the areas with the highest traffic.


How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants in Walls

One of the most common places in a house where carpenter ants create their nests is walls.  It might be quite difficult to get rid of the colony that there because it is quite difficult to find the exact location of it and then access it. However, there are some effective methods that will help you to do it. The most effective way to get behind affected walls is by spraying or dusting them with boric acid powder. In order to do it you should drill several holes in the walls near the exact place of infestation and then apply boric acid powder there.  However, it is not recommended to use this method if there are small children or pets in your family because boric acid powder is quite a toxic chemical.  Instead you can use an aerosol with a concentration of pyrethrins that is also quite effective.

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