How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants: Effective Methods

Are you noticing signs of pesky carpenter ants gnawing away at your home? I’ve been there too, and believe me when I say that these little critters can cause significant damage if left unchecked.

This article provides simple, effective solutions compiled through rigorous research to rid your house of this uninvited menace. Let’s dive right in and claim back our peaceful homes from these destructive insects!

Key Takeaways

  • Carpenter ants can be identified by their large size, rounded thorax, and carving of galleries into wood.
  • To prevent carpenter ant infestations, address moisture issues, eliminate accessible entry points, and remove decaying wood piles.
  • Non – toxic methods to get rid of carpenter ants include using boiling water, sugar and baking soda bait, essential oils, soap and water, diatomaceous earth, vinegar, and cinnamon.

Identifying Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants can vary in size and color, but they are typically large ants measuring around ⅝ inch long with black or reddish-brown bodies.

What Do Carpenter Ants Look Like?

Carpenter ants are quite distinct in their appearance. They are larger than most ant species, typically measuring between 3.4 to 13 millimeters long. Unlike other ants, they possess a rounded thorax without any indentation and large mandibles which assist them in carving galleries into wood.

Identifying these unique characteristics can be key to recognizing a possible carpenter ant infestation in your home or property.

Carpenter Ants vs. Termites

One common confusion people have while dealing with a pest infestation is distinguishing between carpenter ants and termites. Despite their similarities, they have significant differences that help us to identify them correctly and deal with the problem in the most suitable way.

  Carpenter Ants Termites
Appearance Carpenter ants are large, with a rounded thorax without indentation. Termites have a different bodily structure and are generally smaller.
Diet These ants do not consume wood but have a diverse diet, including insects, meats, pet food, syrups, honey, sugar, jelly, and other sweet substances. On contrary, termites feed solely on wood.
Interaction with Wood Carpenter ants excavate and create tunnels in wood for their nests. leaving visible holes and sawdust remnants. Termites consume wood for their food and leave behind mud tubes or droppings.instead of holes or sawdust.
Presence and Location The presence and location of carpenter ants can vary depending on the region and the condition of the wood. Similarly, the presence of termites also depends on the region and the state of the wood.

Knowing these differences, you will be able to identify if you have a carpenter ant or termite infestation, enabling you to take the right steps for eradication.

What Attracts Carpenter Ants?

Carpenter ants are attracted to moist and decaying wood, which provides the ideal environment for them to establish their nests.

Causes of Carpenter Ant Infestation

As a homeowner, you may not realize there are a variety of scenarios that can lead to a carpenter ant infestation. Thankfully, understanding these causes can help effectively manage and prevent this common household problem.


  1. Moisture issue: Carpenter ants thrive when there’s wet and/or moldy wood around. This could be anything from a leaky roof to damp firewood stored too close to your home.
  2. Water sources: If you have any water source like air-conditioning units, dishwashers, sinks, or bathtubs without proper drainage or with leakage issues, it could attract these pests.
  3. Food availability: As with most creatures, availability of food plays a key role in sustaining an infestation. Carpenter ants are particularly drawn to sweet substances and meat.
  4. Accessible entry points: Cracks in the walls or gaps between the windows provide easy access for these ants into your home.
  5. Bad wood conditions: The presence of wet, decaying wood around your property is as good as rolling out the red carpet for carpenter ants. It’s their ultimate habitat and breeding ground!
  6. Old wood piles: If you have old piles of wood lying around your property then it’s time to get rid of them because they act as prospective nesting sites for ants.
  7. Lack of predator threat: If there aren’t any natural predators like spiders or birds present in the vicinity, it allows the ant colonies to grow unabated.


Signs of a Carpenter Ant Infestation

Carpenter ants can leave behind several signs that indicate their presence in your home. One common sign is the presence of piles of wood shavings, also known as “frass,” which they create by chewing and excreting wood.

These piles are usually found near openings or cracks where the ants enter your home. Additionally, if you notice small holes or tunnels in wooden structures, it could be a sign of carpenter ant activity.

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Another sign to look out for is sightings of carpenter ants themselves. They can vary in color, ranging from red-black to all-red, all-black, or all-brown. If you see these insects crawling around your property, especially near damp or decaying wood, it’s likely that you have a carpenter ant infestation.

Furthermore, listen for any rustling sounds coming from inside your walls. Carpenter ants are known to make noise as they move through wooden structures and create pathways. If you hear any unusual sounds like this, it’s important to investigate further for potential infestation.

In some cases, flying carpenter ants may emerge from their nests during mating seasons. If you witness winged ants indoors or discover discarded wings around windowsills and other entry points, it indicates the presence of an established ant colony nearby.

Lastly yet importantly if there has been persistent sawdust-like material scattered beneath dead trees on your property indicating drilling into structural framing members such as support beams within houses then there might be an issue with pests nesting inside them – contact professionals before things get worse!

Overall these signs mentioned above should help homeowners identify early stages infestations allowing treatment at lesser cost compared later stages severe damage inflicted upon homes!

Non-Toxic Ways to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

To eliminate carpenter ants without using toxic chemicals, you can try methods like boiling water, sugar and baking soda bait, essential oils, soap and water, diatomaceous earth, vinegar, and cinnamon and cinnamon oil.

Boiling Water

Boiling water can be a powerful weapon against carpenter ants. It’s a simple yet effective non-toxic method that can help eliminate these pesky insects. By pouring boiling water directly into the ant nest, you can effectively destroy their colony and disrupt their pathways.

Boiling water can be used in combination with other methods to increase its effectiveness in getting rid of carpenter ants. So if you’re dealing with an infestation, grab a kettle of boiling water and start fighting back against these unwelcome guests.

Sugar & Baking Soda Bait

I often use sugar and baking soda as bait to get rid of carpenter ants. It’s a non-toxic method that attracts the ants because they are attracted to sweet foods. The mixture of sugar and baking soda disrupts their digestive process, effectively killing them.

Using this bait can also help locate the nest, as you can observe the ants bringing the bait back to their colony. So if you’re dealing with carpenter ants, give this simple yet effective solution a try!

Essential Oils

Essential oils such as lemongrass, peppermint, clove, cedarwood, tea tree, orange, and lemon oil have properties that can disrupt carpenter ant trails and deter them from entering the home.

These oils contain strong scents that interfere with the ants’ ability to communicate through pheromone trails. By applying these essential oils to surfaces or cleaning solutions, you can effectively disrupt the scent trails left by carpenter ants.

This makes it harder for them to navigate and find their way into your living spaces.

Soap & Water

Using soap and water is a simple and effective way to get rid of carpenter ants. The combination of soap and water disrupts the scent trails left behind by these ants, making it difficult for them to find their way back into your home.

By cleaning surfaces with a solution of dish soap and water, you can also eliminate any trails that may have been established by carpenter ants. This method is non-toxic, easy to use, and can help deter these pests from entering your space again.

So if you’re looking for a natural solution to tackle a carpenter ant infestation, try using soap and water as an effective deterrent.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is a powerful and non-toxic method for getting rid of carpenter ants. Made from fossilized diatoms, which are tiny aquatic organisms, it works by being abrasive to insects.

When the carpenter ants come into contact with the Diatomaceous Earth, it causes them to dehydrate and eventually die. This natural powder can be applied in cracks, crevices, and entry points where the carpenter ants are present.

The best part is that Diatomaceous Earth is safe to use around humans and pets when used as directed and is even food-grade certified. So you can have peace of mind while effectively eliminating those pesky carpenter ants without harmful chemicals or toxins.


Vinegar is a powerful tool for getting rid of carpenter ants. It disrupts the scent trails left by these pests, making it harder for them to find their way around your home. By cleaning surfaces with vinegar and water, you can deter carpenter ants from entering in the first place.

This natural remedy is also an environmentally friendly option since it doesn’t use harsh chemicals or pesticides. Plus, vinegar is readily available and inexpensive, making it a practical choice for homeowners looking to eliminate carpenter ant infestations.

Cinnamon & Cinnamon Oil

I have found that using cinnamon and cinnamon oil can be an effective non-toxic method for getting rid of carpenter ants. Carpenter ants are attracted to the scent of cinnamon, so sprinkling ground cinnamon or spraying a solution of cinnamon oil disrupts their scent trails and deters them from entering your home.

This natural remedy can help in keeping those pesky ants away without the need for harsh chemicals.

Other Methods of Eliminating Carpenter Ants

– Use desiccating dust or insecticides to eliminate carpenter ants.

– Spraying with pyrethrin can effectively kill the ants.

– When non-toxic methods fail, it may be necessary to seek professional extermination services.

To learn more about these methods and how to prevent carpenter ants from returning, continue reading.

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Using Desiccating Dust

I find that using desiccating dust is an effective method to control carpenter ant infestations. Desiccating dust works by absorbing the waxy outer coating of carpenter ants, leading to dehydration and eventual death.

It can be used in combination with other methods for a comprehensive approach. To apply desiccating dust, simply target areas where carpenter ants are active, such as nests, trails, and entry points.

Use a duster or puffer bottle for precise application. Keep in mind that regular monitoring and reapplication may be necessary to maintain long-term effectiveness against these pests.

Spraying With Pyrethrin

Spraying with pyrethrin is an effective method for controlling carpenter ants. Derived from chrysanthemum flowers, pyrethrin causes paralysis and death in insects. It can be used as a supplement to other methods of ant control or as a direct treatment to target the infestation.

By spraying pyrethrin in areas where carpenter ants are active, you can effectively eliminate them from your home. However, it’s important to note that prevention measures should also be taken, such as sealing cracks and removing sources of moisture, to ensure long-term control of these pests.

Using Insecticides

Using insecticides is a highly effective method for getting rid of carpenter ants. Insecticides can be used in combination with other methods to achieve optimal results. They are particularly useful when treating hard-to-locate carpenter ant nests.

It is important to correctly identify the most suitable insecticide for carpenter ants, as different products target specific pests. Using insecticides specifically designed for carpenter ants will ensure the best outcome in eliminating these pests from your home or property.

Preventing Carpenter Ants from Returning

To prevent carpenter ants from returning, identify and replace any damaged or decaying wood in your home. Be mindful of the wood around your place, as moisture can attract these pests.

Identifying and Replacing Bad Wood

I can identify bad wood by looking for signs of damage, such as holes, sawdust-like residue called frass, or hollow-sounding wood when tapped. I will replace it to eliminate the attraction for carpenter ants and prevent further infestations.

Wet or moldy wood is especially appealing to these pests, so I’ll make sure to address any moisture issues that may be causing the decay. In addition, drilling holes in the wall and using boric acid can effectively destroy carpenter ant nests hidden within the wood.

By taking these proactive measures, I can keep my home free from these destructive insects.

Mindfulness of Wood Around Your Place

I always make sure to be mindful of the wood around my place because carpenter ants are attracted to wet or moldy wood. These ants can easily enter homes through cracks or openings in wooden structures.

They often set up their nests near water sources like air-conditioning units, dishwashers, sinks, and bathtubs. To prevent carpenter ant infestations, it’s important to identify and replace any bad wood that may be present.

By staying vigilant and taking care of the wood around your place, you can help keep these destructive pests away.

When to Seek Professional Extermination

If you’re unable to locate the carpenter ant nest or if your infestation persists despite your best efforts, it’s time to call a professional exterminator. These experts have the knowledge and tools necessary to identify the extent of the problem and eliminate it effectively.

They can also provide long-term solutions to prevent future infestations. Remember, carpenter ants can cause extensive damage to wood structures in your home, so it’s important not to delay seeking professional help when needed.


In conclusion, getting rid of carpenter ants requires a combination of prevention and treatment methods. By identifying and addressing the underlying causes of infestations, such as moisture issues or decaying wood, you can reduce the attractiveness of your home to these pests.

Non-toxic options like boiling water, sugar and baking soda bait, essential oils, soap and water, diatomaceous earth, vinegar, and cinnamon can all be effective in eliminating carpenter ants.

However, if the infestation persists or becomes overwhelming, it’s best to seek professional extermination services for efficient and thorough removal.


1. What are some effective methods for getting rid of carpenter ants?

Some effective methods for getting rid of carpenter ants include using ant baits, applying insecticidal dust or spray to affected areas, sealing off entry points, and removing sources of moisture that attract the ants.

2. Can I get rid of carpenter ants on my own without professional help?

Yes, it is possible to get rid of carpenter ants on your own if the infestation is small. However, larger infestations may require professional assistance to ensure complete eradication.

3. How do I locate the nest of carpenter ants in my house?

To locate the nest of carpenter ants in your house, look for sawdust-like debris known as frass near wooden structures or trails leading from their food source. You can also listen for rustling sounds coming from walls or ceilings where the nest might be located.

4. Are there any preventive measures I can take to avoid a carpenter ant infestation?

Yes, some preventive measures you can take to avoid a carpenter ant infestation include regularly inspecting and repairing any water leaks or moisture issues in your home, storing firewood away from your house, keeping trees and shrubs trimmed away from your home’s exterior, and sealing cracks and openings that could serve as entry points for ants.

Let us know what you think of the information provided in this article.