Carpenter ants (Complete prevention & removal guide)


Carpenter ants look like most ants; some have wings similar to termite wings and they can typically be found chewing through wood. They don’t actually eat wood though—they nest in it.

If your home has become a nesting spot for these aggressive creatures, then you have your work cut out for you. Getting get rid of carpenter ants is not easy to do on your own, which is why most people hire professional help. 

With a great sense of smell, they are able to avoid pesticides by going away from them, whether that means making a new trail or waiting for the scent to leave the area to search for more food.

Ultimately, it is the queen of the nest who lays the eggs and worker ants continue to bring food back. She must eat in order to continue to lay eggs for additional working ants.

Video explaining what carpenter ants eat in the winter & why they can be attracted to a home without much wood.

What Do Carpenter Ants Eat?

Carpenter ants feed on honeydew produced by aphids, plants, living, and dead insects, and sugary matter.

Do Carpenter Ants Eat Wood?

Though many people assume carpenter ants eat wood, they don’t actually eat wood. Instead, they like to find a good spot where there may be some already rotting or deteriorating wood as shelter. They often start tunneling out wood to provide a fortress for their colony and their queen ant to nest in.

Are there different types of Carpenter ants?

There are three different species of carpenter ants including Florida carpenter ants, the Modoc carpenter ants, and Pennsylvanicus carpenter ants. Florida ants are red and black in color and are sometimes called that.

Modoc ants are located in the Western area of the country and the Pennsylvanicus ants are found in the Eastern region and are also considered big black ants even though they are moderate in size and still smaller than the average crawling ant.

Every colony has at least 3,000 workers and large colonies can have more than 100,000 working ants. This leads to a significant infestation as there is plenty for the ants to eat and lots of wood to nest in.

There are three levels of working ants that can lead to such large numbers and they include Minor to Intermediate to Major workers. The queen for each nesting area will lay eggs and they will take up to 60 days before they become adults and start working towards creating a larger colony or additional colonies.

4 Main Steps of Carpenter Ant Activity.

How to get rid of Carpenter ants

It is difficult to kill off all the carpenter ants in an infestation because there are typically thousands of them. The key to eliminating carpenter ant colonies is to target the queen.

It is difficult to kill a queen carpenter ant with a simple ant spray or fumigation. The best strategy to get rid of your carpenter ants problem (or other ant problems) is to use a bait or dusting technique.

Chemical Carpenter ant control

Apply Timbor or Nibor D or similar dusting products. Place the dust in areas around your home that have cracks, crevices, or other potential entryways into your home. Such entry points might include around windows, doors, attics, or anywhere else you feel the infestation is taking place.

Carpenter ant baits

Baiting products like Advance Carpenter Ant Bait or KM Ant Professional Ant Bait Station can be effective indoors or outdoors if employed properly. Initially, place a small amount of bait near where you have seen the ants.

If the baits disappear quickly then add about twice as much as you had before. If the bait does not disappear at all, then find another spot where you have noticed the ants. Repeat this process until you find areas where the ants are discovering the bait.

The bait should disappear gradually or rapidly depending on how bad the problem is. Continue to check every few days to make sure the bait is disappearing. After one week remove the left bait and place new bait.

As you notice less bait being taken that means the colony is decreasing. Bait can be taken back to the queen which is what you want in order for the infestation to stop. As all of the ants eat the bait, they will die off.

If you use sprays to get rid of carpenter ants, they will avoid where you sprayed and it will only kill off the exposed ants. From there some of the ants will fly over to another location to start up another colony.

Your infestation can get worse rather than better. Instead of using the typical trail, the carpenter ants create a new pathway and avoid the smell of the repellent.

Nonrepellent dust can be more effective with working ants but they will have a harder time reaching the queen than bait will.

If the queen notices that many of the workers are no longer there then she will lay more eggs and they will multiply and outnumber the number of workers that were there before.

Without the right tools to remove the carpenter ants, your infestation can get a lot worse. You may consider calling upon a professional if you question having the right materials to remove and kill off the carpenter ants from infesting your home.

Finding Carpenter ants outside your home can mean there’s trouble inside your home

Carpenter ants gathered on concrete near a home.
A group of carpenter ants on concrete outside a home.

Photo credit: Geoff Gallice from

Most of the time you will notice carpenter ants nesting outside your home before they find a nesting area within your home. About 35 percent of the ants find a spot in exterior walls, flower pots, cracks, and any expansion from the window to the walls. About 21 percent of the carpenter ants can be found infesting the attic and 19 percent are usually located in crawl space, ceilings, and interior walls and roofing.

Also, carpenter ants can nest inside trees, so if you have trees in your yard it is good to keep an eye out for carpenter ant activity in or around your trees.

Categorized as Ants

By David Jackson

I enjoy learning about new pest control strategies and sharing what I learn at I aim to create a reliable resource for people dealing with all sorts of pest issues.

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