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How to Control Carpenter Ants

How to Control Carpenter Ants
Carpenter Ants Excavating a Nest
Damage Caused by Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ant Worker

Big Black Carpenter Ants Excavating A Nest

Carpenter Ant Damage

Carpenter ants can be difficult to control, the information provided is to help you get rid of and control your carpenter ant problems.  Carpenter ants that enter the home are black and can vary in length from 1/4 to 3/4 inch. Unlike termites, all carpenter ants have narrow (or constricted) waists (they have a waistline) and elbowed (bent) antennae.

Carpenter ants are social insects, similar to termites and they  form large colonies. A mature carpenter ant colony may contain up to 3,000 individuals, but usually only one queen, but they can have satellite colonies.   Carpenter ants form nests in wood by tunneling against the grain. These galleries are free of mud and sawdust. Coarse sawdust is present below the entrance of an active nest.

Carpenter ants DO NOT eat wood; they do however remove the wood to create their galleries and tunnels.  They do however feed on sources of protein and sugar. Carpenter ants outdoors feed on living and dead insects, they are also very attracted to honeydew, a sweet liquid produced by aphids and scale insects. Most foraging is done at night between sunset and midnight during spring and summer months. This is the best time to locate a colony, entry points and to apply baits. Sometimes workers travel up to 100 yards from a nest in search of food.

Carpenter ants nest in moist wood including rotting trees, tree roots, tree stumps, and logs or boards lying on or buried in the ground. They can also nest in moist or decayed wood inside buildings. Wood decay may be caused by exposure to leaks, condensation, or poor air circulation. Nests have been found behind bathroom tiles; around tubs, sinks, showers, and dishwashers; under roofing, in attic beams, and under subfloor insulation; and in hollow spaces such as doors, curtain rods, and wall voids. Carpenter ants may also nest in foam insulation.

Many foods are attractive to carpenter ants, including honey or other sweet foods. During spring, carpenter ants are particularly attracted to protein sources, such as tuna packed in water. (Carpenter ants are not attracted to tuna packed in oil.) Set out small pieces of tuna for the ants to take back to their nest. It is easier to follow the ants when they are carrying food. With patience and perseverance, you can follow the ants back to their nest.

Other signs that indicate an active nest is nearby include small piles of coarse sawdust or wood shavings, consistent indoor sightings of large numbers of worker ants, i.e. 20 or more, and large numbers of winged ants indoors. Carpenter ants typically swarm from late winter through spring.

Also pay attention to areas where steady moisture is or has been a problem; firewood stored in an attached garage, next to the foundation, along an outside wall, or in a basement; areas around the plumbing or vent entrances; and trees with branches overhanging the house. These are possible sources of carpenter ant nests.

Sound detection may be helpful in locating a nest. An active colony may make a dry, rustling sound that becomes louder if the colony is disturbed. This sound, thought to be a form of communication, is made with the mandibles (jaws) and is not related to wood chewing. When trying to detect carpenter ants, tap the suspected area and then press an ear to the surface in order to hear any sound.

If one nest is found, watch for evidence of additional nests. More than one nest may be present in a structure.

Where to look for Carpenter Ants Indoors:

Nests are often concealed in wall voids, ceilings, subfloors, attics, or hollow It is best to determine the nest’s location as specifically as possible but bait can be simply placed in the areas that the ants are moving about.  

If you are able to see the nest and colony then using a liquid or aerosol insecticide will help destroy the colony.

Liquids or aerosol ready-to-use insecticide, such as cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, or permethrin are labeled for use on Carpenter Ants. Spray the insecticide directly into as much of the nest as possible.

If the nest cannot be located, baits may are an effective alternative. Baits work by combining their attractive food source with a slow-acting insecticide. Maxforce and Advance Carpenter ant baits will be easily shared with colony and the delayed effect will all time for all ants to consume some of the bait, so that the colony is eliminated. Food Sharing with social insects makes baits a very effective option for control.

The keys to successful baiting are placement and monitoring requires that you put the bait where the ants are.

When doing an inspection of your home look for cracks in foundations, attic vents, plumbing penetrations, electrical wires that enter the home, branches that hang over roof line and touch can be a good entry point for carpenter ants.  Look for areas of the home that have excessive moisture problems, maybe where the gutter floods water to close to the wood.

Treat your Carpenter Ant problems with an appropriately labeled pesticide such as Advance Carpenter Ant Bait, Suspend SC, Talstar Concentrate or Cynoff.

Advance Carpenter Ant Bait is ant bait that can be placed in small piles in the ants trails or can also be used as a scattered bait around piles of wood, around structures or in the home.

A few excellent pesticides that are labeled for Carpenter Ant Control  is Suspend SC, Talstar Concentrate, Termidor  and Cynoff.  These will also work for other insects.

Carpenter Ant control with Professional Pest Control Products

You basically have only a few options and some will work better than others.  Exterior perimeter treatments will work well if you are using something like Premise or Termidor, they are both non repelling so ants will continue to move about the chemical application area.  Other chemical such as Suspend, Cynoff and Talstar will help keep the ants away from the structure, but will not be effective on colonies that are already located inside.

Treating the inside of wall voids or entry points that you know have carpenter ants nesting inside will include dust and a duster, Drione, Delta Dust, Pyganic Dust and also Premise Foam

When you dust or foam the wall voids you are trying to get the ants or other insects to cross into your chemically treated area.  Ants groom themselves so they should get it on their bodies and ingest the chemical.  Apply dust properly with the use of a duster, apply Drione or Delta Dust into the wall voids for Carpenter Ant Control.  Delta Dust is better suited for use where there is a moisture concern.  Premise foam works great if you know which section of void the ant or termite is occupying.  Dusting is not a stand alone treatment and should be used in conjunction with other chemical or baiting methods.

You can perform a spot treatment on infested wood with Bora-Care or Tim-bor, naturally occurring Borate and wood preservative.  It will quickly eliminate a localized carpenter ant infestation, because it will act as a repellent to the ants and make the wood unattractive for creating galleries.  The wood has to be un painted or sealed on the areas you will be applying.  You can inject Bora-Care or Tim-bor directly into the carpenter ant galleries. 

Carpenter Ant Baits

Because of the nature of ants the most effective method of controlling carpenter ants is by using baits.  Baits work by eliminating the population of carpenter ants in an area and reduce or stop their potential for entering a structure.  Advance Carpenter Ant Bait (8 oz or 2lb container)  Niban Granular Bait and Niban-FG Fine Granular Bait are carpenter ant baits which can be used for both interior and exterior applications.  Maxforce Carpenter Ant Bait Gel is the fastest for indoor ant colonies. We recomend both the Advance Carpenter ant bait and Maxforce Carpenter Ant Bait to be used together for superior success.

For exterior baiting you will want to place a band of bait, two to four foot band around the structure using Niban or Advance Carpenter Ant Bait.  Both can be placed around bases of trees, stumps, firewood piles and any other location ants may tend to form a colony in.  Bait can be applied in the ant’s trails.  Niban will not break down in sunlight and stays effective with up to 2 inches of rainfall. Whenever possible applying bait inside and out will help you be the most successful at Carpenter Ant Control and help you Kill them Like a Professional.

We Carry the largest selection of professional pest control products available to homeowners, business and institutions so you can do your own pest control and the instructions provided above will help you  not only get rid of but  Kill your Carpenter Ant problem.

How to Apply Carpenter Ant Bait:

Advance carpenter ant bait application recommendations



Follow ants back to voids.  Apply product to cracks and crevices or voids where ants are active.  In heavily traveled sites use up to 1.5 ounces of product.

Use a large puff duster to place the product into crevices or voids. It may take more than one application so keep feeding the ants till you no longer see any ants.

ADVANCE Granular Carpenter Ant Bait is a ready to use product for use in controlling carpenter ants both indoors and outdoors. This bait formulation combines a mixture of foods and the delayed action insecticide, abamectin. This insecticide acts to reduce the population of worker ants and can cause an immediate halt in egg production resulting in colony elimination. Avoid use of other insecticides or sprays on or near ADVANCE Granular Carpenter Ant Bait.


BROADCAST APPLICATION: Use this product at a rate of 1 lb. per acre. Apply the product as uniformly as possible. Repeat application as necessary.

AROUND STRUCTURES: Lightly sprinkle the product evenly in a band approximately 1 - 2 feet wide around the foundation of the building. Treat visible trails with approximately 1 ounce of product. Repeat application as necessary.

Maxforce Carpenter Ant Bait Application Recommendations

Apply with syringe applicator directly into cracks and crevices.  Place applicator tip into cracks and crevices and where ants may travel.  Apply gel up to 1 gram per spot. 

Apply the bait in small amounts between different elements of construction, openings leading into voids and hollow spaces in floors, walls, ceilings, equipment legs and bases, around plumbing pipes, doors and windows, cabinets, sinks, stoves and other places where ants may enter the establishment.

Reapply when necessary.

For outdoor use Apply Maxforce Carpenter Ant gel into on or adjacent to surfaces where you can see ants, next to ant trails and potential water damage areas.

For Indoor use: Place the Maxforce Carpenter Ant bait where you see the ants moving or coming in at.

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