While a vacuum might cure some ant problems, carpenter ants are different. They are like termites and can damage your home. If you find carpenter ants in your home, you’ll need to learn how to get rid of carpenter ants. Here are natural, chemical, and preventative methods to get rid of and kill carpenter ants.
Carpenter ants nest in the wood structure of your home. To get rid of carpenter ants, you can use natural methods like baking soda, borax, or vinegar. If they are established, you’ll need a chemical insecticide, or even hire an exterminator. Here are 5 preventative steps to block them from entering.
Natural Methods to Kill Carpenter Ants (4 Steps)
Follow these 4 steps to naturally get rid of carpenter ants.
1. Locate The Nest
To get rid of carpenter ants, look for their nests. These ants usually live in places where they have access to wood, including voids in your walls and around your roof.
They can also live around windowsills and inside hollow doors.
2. Place the Bait
Once you find the nest, make a natural bait to kill them.
All you need is equal parts baking soda and granulated sugar. Pour the mixture into a shallow dish that you place near the nest.
The ants will come out and eat the sugar, but the baking soda will kill them.
3. Eliminate Scent Trails
You will then want to get rid of the scent trails that they leave around your home. Carpenter ants use these trails to find their way back and forth between the nest and their food sources. The trails also help other ants in the nest find food.
Use equal parts of water and distilled white vinegar that you put in a spray bottle.
Spray this solution all over your house to cover the smell. You can also use different types of essential oils to block scent trails, including lemon and orange oils.
4. Dust the Nest
Getting rid of the nest requires the use of boric acid. Use a 1/8 inch drill bit to place holes around the nest every six inches.
Place boric acid in a bulb duster and insert the end into the hole.
You’ll need to squeeze the bulb to force the acid into the nest and repeat this step with each hole. Though boric acid will kill carpenter ants, you may need to repeat the process every few days.
Chemicals to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants (3 Ways)
You can also look at how to get rid of carpenter ants with chemicals. Insecticides are your best bet.
1. Insecticide Spray
There are many products such as Raid and Ortho that you can spray directly on the ants and in their nests.
Ortho makes a Home Defense Insect Killer that is for inside and outside application. It is good for up to 12 months before reapplication is needed.
2. Insecticide Powder
You might prefer a powder that you can apply with a bulb duster.
Both types of insecticides work well on carpenter ants but may require several attempts.
3. Bait Stations
Ant baits are another option, especially if you choose one designed for carpenter ants.
The bait stations look like small white or black boxes. You can place them anywhere you see the ants and around places where they find food.
Bait stations produce a scent that attracts the ants.
They go inside to eat and carry the bait back to the nest where other ants will eat it and die.
Terro makes a 12-pack of liquid ant bait stations (borax).
Prevent Carpenter Ants: 5 Ways
Here are the steps you can take to prevent having carpenter ants inside your home.
1. Fix Leaks and Drips
Don’t forget about the water sources that these ants need. Leaks under your pipes or inside the walls can attract ants.
Not only do you need to repair those leaks, but you also need to remove and replace any wood with water damage.
2. Block Entry
When you prevent carpenter ants and block their entry to your home, you don’t need to worry about getting rid of them later.
Caulk, spray foam, and seal all gaps and openings. This includes around windows and doors, outside electrical outlets, and dryer vents.
If you own a home and don’t own a caulking gun, now is the time to get one. I’ve had good success with this one.
To do battle with ants and other invading insects, a caulk gun is your best friend.
3. Keep Firewood Away
Make sure that you take care of any wood that might attract them. If you burn wood in your fireplace or stove, keep the piles a distance from your home.
Carpenter ants can live in those piles and get inside your home when you carry the logs inside.
4. Cut Branches and Shrubs
You’ll also want to look at the trees closest to your home. Do not let them touch or overhang your roof.
Carpenter ants can climb up the trees and use the branches to gain access.
5. Remove All Rotting Wood
It’s also helpful to look for dead and dying or decayed wood outside such as old stumps.
That wood can attract carpenter ants and help them gain entry to your home.
FAQs About Carpenter Ants
How to Identify Carpenter Ants?
Carpenter ants are much larger than other ants, which makes them easy to identify.
They are usually ¼ inch to ½ inch in size and have shiny black bodies.
If you get close, you should also see a round thorax. Worker ants have large mouths that they use to chew and break down their food.
What Do They Eat?
Though you might think that carpenter ants primarily eat wood, they have a varied diet.
They often eat any food they find near their nests and will eat any crumbs you leave behind or food you leave sitting out.
This includes jelly and other sweets along with dog or cat food and even other bugs.
What animals eat ants? Here are 28 Natural Ant Predators
Can Carpenter Ants Do a Lot of Damage?
The biggest reason to learn how to get rid of carpenter ants is that they can do a lot of damage to your home.
These ants use wood to build their nests. They can damage hollow doors, joists, rafters, and wall studs.
Though a small nest may not do much damage, a large nest can do as much damage as termites do. They can cause enough structural damage that you need to replace different parts of your home.
The damage they do often depends on where you live.
- If you live in a warm climate such as California or Florida, you’ll find that the ants usually only seek out abandoned or neglected homes that already have some signs of damage.
- In cooler climates such as the Midwest, carpenter ants will move into any type of home. They can remain there for months and even years, causing a lot of damage in the process.
Plus, carpenter ants will bite. And some people have an allergic reaction to the formic acid in their bite.
With the carpenter ants gone, it’s time to get rid of sugar ants.
Getting Rid of Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants are similar to termites because they eat wood and can cause a lot of damage to your home. Both chemicals and natural remedies will kill these ants, but you also need to make sure that you know how to keep them out. Proper maintenance is key to keeping your home free of carpenter ants.
- About the Author
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Dena Haines is a co-founder and writer at The Buginator. And is working to make it the best resource for taking back the outdoors from biting, stinging pests.
She also blogs about travel at Storyteller.Travel and photography at Click Like This. Dena is a partner at Storyteller Media, a publishing company she runs with her husband, Bryan.