So, you’ve got carpenter ants, and you need to get rid of carpenter ants. For good. And quickly.
You’ve come to the right place.
Carpenter ants are more difficult to get rid of compared to the average ant because they hide in wooden voids in your house (hence the name).
This comprehensive guide will cover all the natural, do-it-yourself methods you can do at home to remedy carpenter ants.
Read on to learn how to get rid of this pest.
Last updated: 8/29/19.
What’s a carpenter ant?
Carpenter ants are pest ants that are native all over the world.
Like the majority of ant species, no one wants to deal with them and considers them to be a nuisance. They get their name from the wooden nest structure they build rather than colonies in the soil, like most ant species.
This means they prefer wood structures, almost like termites, which makes them more difficulty to kill.
They’re often confused with many other ant species since they’re very similar, but we’ll differentiate (and get rid of them) regardless in this comprehensive guide.
You can read more about their profile here.
Where do carpenter ants live?
Carpenter ants naturally nest outdoors in decaying wood.
This is typically native carpenter ant habitat. They chew through the wood to create a colony and provide some unique nests, almost like an ant colony except in wood rather than soil as most people are used to seeing.
They’ll hollow out the wood to create these tunnels, which defines why they prefer softer, damp wood since it’s easier to chew through. They don’t eat the wood though- they hollow out the wood.
Damaged or damp wood will provide a perfect nest for carpenters, which then allows them to establish a colony and start foraging for food. This is probably when you’ll start noticing them around your home or outdoors.
Carpenter ant life cycle
Carpenter ants have a pretty unique life cycle.
This begins with the nuptial flight, beginning around early summer. Male carpenter ants (swarmers) will fly and mate with winged females.
The female ants will then shed their wings and search for a new location to start a nest. The queen ant will find a suitable environment and lay her batch of eggs and will remain there until the first batch hatches.
After the eggs hatch, she’ll nourish the young by her salivary glands until they’re suitable for becoming worker ants. She’ll look after the young and ensure that the first brood of workers can take care of following breeds by feeding them. Of course, not all eggs and workers will hatch successfully.
Enter the nest
After 3-6 years, a colony will establish. This depends on many factors, like temperature, food, water, and environment. The typical life cycle of a carpenter ant ranges from 6-12 weeks from egg to fully-grown adult.
After the workers mature, they’ll take over the colony and the queen ant becomes insignificant. They’ll look for food, water, tend for eggs, and expand the colony as needed.
Worker ants will split into soldiers who protect the colony and workers who forage for food and take care of the younger ants.
The queen will then produce winged males and females after the nest is fully established, who will then fly off and begin other colonies. The cycle then repeats.
Carpenter ants have a long cycle before the new nest is established, so this gives you some time to get rid of them before another nest develops elsewhere.
They typically don’t nest near the same area from the same progeny, but other strains may come to your house or yard and establish a nest.
So it’s imperative that you eradicate them ASAP before they start to take over and you’ll have to deal with more than one nest.
Determining and ID’ing carpenter ants
Carpenter ants are often confused with other ant species, as ants are just ants.
Carpenter ants are a larger species and are commonly found over the northwest and northeast regions of the US. Texas’ share of carpenter ants aren’t as big as the other species.
You can tell one ant from the other by using the “carpenter ant anatomy” section following.
Other common ants that are similar to carpenter ants are:
- Bullet ant
- Tapinoma sessile
- Fire ant
- Little black ant
- Black garden ant (black ant)
Carpenter ant anatomy
Carpenter ants are definitely the larger ant varieties commonly found in Texas and Ohio. They live in yards and homes.
They have a black tail and a slightly lighter thorax.
They’re about ¼ – ⅜” in length.
There are also carpenter ants with small wings, which are completely black in coloration. The winged variety will range about ½” in length and may appear as a “swarm” during mating season.
They also have a pinched waist, antennae that bens, and a bump between their abdomen and thorax.
Carpenter ant by region
- The eastern US has black carpenter ants, which are completely black and range up to 0.5”.
- The western US has a black body with red legs and are about the same size.
- Florida has a red carpenter and with a black abdomen and range about ⅜”.
Do carpenter ants damage wood? Do they eat wood?
Carpenter ant damage may be mistaken for termite damage.
They don’t eat wood, but they do use damaged wood as their nesting sites.
Typically, they like to nest within wall voids, frames, or any other area where they can be well hidden from disturbances and this usually involves some kind of damaged wood frame.
They look for very narrow voids found in doors, walls, and other wooden structures to nest. Carpenter ants may damage wood, but their damage proves to be minimal compared to termites.
Do carpenter ants bite?
As with many other ants, yes, carpenter ants will bite.
They’ll bite regardless of whether or not they’re provoked. Ant bite hurt and will sting, and you’ll notice the bite right away.
If you get bitten, be sure to treat it with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to prevent an infection from the bite.
- Wash the bite under warm water.
- Dab a bit of rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide on a clean cotton ball or paper towel.
- Wipe the bite a few times. Repeat if desired.
You can also use as adhesive to tape over the bite if you want, but this often won’t be necessary for a bite. Although carpenter ant bites are painful, they’re rarely dangerous and only leave a small penetration.
Carpenter ants in Ohio and Texas
Carpenter ants are a very common ant pest in northeast Ohio and Taxes.
This region attracts a large population of carpenter ants of all colors: black, tan, and red. So if you’re in Ohio and you have carpenter ants, you’re not alone.
The reason why Ohio has more of these pests compared to other states is simply because of the extensive foliage and arboreal landscape.
There are a lot of mature trees that make up the natural landscape of Ohio, especially around the northern regions of the state.
Trees are their native homes
By nature, carpenter ants prefer this kind of setup because there’s a lot of wood that they can utilize to make nests and shelter out of.
So it’s really no surprise that Ohio houses the majority of carpenter ant infestations compared to the rest of the United States. They’re definitely up on the list.
However, the way to handle these ants would remain the same- you may have to “up the ante” of your approach and take care of them aggressively.
Read on to see how you get rid of carpenters from your home or yard- no matter where you are. Ohio or not, the process remains the same.
What causes carpenter ants in the house?
Carpenter ants are attracted to three things necessary to create a colony:
- Wood (shelter)
If you have all three elements nearby, they’ll start a colony. That’s pretty much it for this pest. That’s why they’re so prominent all over the United States because they don’t need much to propagate.
What attracts carpenter ants in a home?
They’re mostly searching for the same things as above- food and shelter.
If your home has preferable conditions, such as ambient temperatures, a food source, and plenty of wood for them to hollow out and establish a colony, then they’ll get into your house.
Remember the start of all carpenter colonies start with a queen ant who finds a crack or crevices in damp or destroyed wood.
From there, the process takes several years to establish a colony. If you find a ton of ants, they’ve taken shelter and already have a colony going somewhere near your house (or in your house).
They can travel up to 100 yards (the distance of a football field) away from their nest, so there’s one definitely somewhere nearby.
Again, use the methods outlined here to track down the nest.
How do you find a carpenter ant nest in your house?
Finding the nest will be difficult, as they hide in the wall voids or wherever there’s a crevice in wood.
However, finding and eliminating the nest would be the most important step to getting rid of them permanently in your home.
Common indoor infestation areas
Carpenter ants may nest in any of the following areas:
- Cardboard boxes
- Dry wood
- Wall voids
- Hollow core doors
- Solid wood
- Hollow wood
- Plywood storage
- Wood storage piles
- Decaying wood decorations
- Furniture wood
- Wooden bed frames
- Moist or humid areas
- Pipe chases
- Trash compactors
Common outdoor infestation areas
You may also discover carpenter ant activity outdoors in these areas:
- Leaf litter
- Mulch beds
- Trees (common)
- Roof lines
- Landscape timbers
- Trash bins
- Compost bins
- Vents and soffits
- Utility machines
Search for frass
The first step to discovering a nest would be to look for pieces of sawdust, also known as frass.
You’ll find wood shavings and various other bits and pieces of ants and wood combined. If you see this, this means that you may have a nest location for the colony. Just seeing frass means there’s some kind of pest problem nearby.
After you find the frass, look for a location where this stuff may be coming from. You may find a small hole, which is where they’re hiding as it leads to their main quarters.
When you find the nest, you can use a variety of methods to control them. Keep reading to see how you can safely and naturally eliminate carpenter ants without using commercial sprays and pesticides. You’d want to start small before you escalate.
Is carpenter ant damage covered by homeowners insurance?
Not typically. The majority of home insurance doesn’t cover pest-related damage. Damage from ants, termites, and other pests won’t be covered and you’ll have to repair the damages yourself for resale value.
Can carpenter ants destroy your home?
Yes. As the colony expands, they’ll excavate the gallery and expand as needed to accommodate the growing population.
This is why you need to stop them ASAP. although carpenter ants don’t eat wood, they hollow out the wood to expand their nest. This obviously leads to damaged wood as they chew up destroyed wood.
Carpenter ant damage won’t be nearly as bad as termite damage, but they will still damage your house and structure- especially if you have multiple nests taking over your house.
How do you know if you have carpenter ants?
The most obvious way would be to simply identify the ant as a carpenter ant.
Use the carpenter ant anatomy and life cycle above to ID the pest. If you determine it’s a carpenter ant, you can follow this guide to learn how you can control and get rid of them.
Carpenter ants are often confused with many other ant species- after all, they’re just ants. So it’s very easy to get them confused with any other ant type.
However, all ants are similar in anatomy and the way to “get rid” of them and control them largely remains the same.
Even if you have mistaken the carpenter ant for another ant type, say the black garden ant, you should still be able to use the following suggestion to eliminate them.
There are many other signs you have carpenter ants
Look for the following around your home, as they signal a carpenter ant problem:
- Frass: The most common sign of a carpenter problem. These are basically the leftover wood shavings mixed with their feces and wings after they’ve eaten through an area. Looks like plain sawdust and you’ll find frass near their main colony.
- Soaked wood: if you find damaged wood that’s been wettened, this could be a good place for ants to take over. Take an inspection carefully.
- Ant trails: When you find a trail of ants, see where they’re coming from. This will let you pinpoint the location of the nest.
Should I be worried if I see one carpenter ant?
Yes, you should.
This is because one carpenter ant could mean that many more are on the way.
How bad are carpenter ants?
Well, that single ant may be a “scout” ant, meaning it’s currently looking for food or has found a food source. It could be on its way back to the colony, or about to find a plentiful food source.
Seeing a single ant could be a very useful point in detecting where the nest is. If you’re serious about getting rid of carpenter ants, you can follow the ant and see where it goes.
Typically, they’ll look for food, then head over back to the nest after some time. You can watch the ant and trail its path to get an idea of where you should place traps going forward.
After you locate the possible nest, you can safely kill the ant and spray its trail with some essential oils, vinegar, or rubbing alcohol to prevent more ants from coming forth.
Disrupt the trail
Scout ants will leave a pheromone trail for others to follow if they’ve found a food source. If you’re watching the ant, note where it goes as ants are very binary (they’re either heading to or from the colony).
After you’re done, you can kill the ant and wipe up its trail just in case there was a scent trail left so others don’t show up.
Seeing one ant means there’s a whole colony of them nearby. The single you saw is just a scout looking for resources for the rest of the nest. You should take single ants seriously, as this is where a carpenter ant infestation defines its beginnings.
Don’t take it easy. Be proactive and prevent the problem before it starts!
Carpenter ants show no mercy once they establish a nest in your home, so do what you can now.
Do carpenter ants go away on their own?
Nope. Not if there’s a food source. They’ll hang around as long as they can.
They’ll continue to excavate their nest and expand. That’s why you shouldn’t push off the problem until later- there will just be more ants for you to deal with!
Are carpenter ants attracted to water?
Yes. The majority of ant species require a water source in order to survive. Carpenter ants especially are interested in small bodies of water that are still-standing.
Since they often seek out shelter in damaged wood, sometimes they’ll look for wood that’s been damaged by water. Wood that’s rotting or otherwise falling apart because of water damage will be a perfect nest for carpenter ants, as it’ll offer them a nearby source of water for propagation and also a nest for shelter.
They’ll easily eat up the wood to carve out a place to live, and likely will drink the nearby water source.
This is why you should eliminate any standing sources of water. This includes drips, puddles, or condensation. Any of these will suffice for carpenter ants to seek out shelter nearby.
Of course, this may be difficult if the issue is in a wall void.
You may have to call out a licensed plumber to see what the problem is and where the leak is taking place. This may be necessary to prevent further carpenter ants from infesting that same location going forward.
What kills carpenter ants naturally?
This part of the guide covers all the methods to kill carpenter ants naturally, using DIY baits and sprays.
There are many natural ways to get rid of carpenter ants. This guide covers some of the most popular techniques that are proven to be effective.
There are also some sections about some of the less effective ones to save you time from trying them.
Going all-natural to kill and/or repel carpenters is the best way because it limits exposure to dangerous compounds found in common ant killers. Always go natural.
Only escalate to commercial means when you need to that use more dangerous compounds. Start small and work your way up. You’ll do less damage to your pets, kids, and house by going this route first.
Note: Always be careful when using any solutions and where you apply them. If you spray directly into an electrical outlet, electrical appliance, or other hazardous objects, you could risk some serious consequences. Also, be wary that ants can carry your sprays around the house. Never directly spray into or around electrical appliances or around electrical outlets!
Use common sense. You’re responsible for your own risk and accept all responsibility.
How to make boric acid ant killer
Boric acid is a popular, cheap, and effective way to kill ants.
This approach works because the ants will eat the solution as bait, and will then kill them after they consume the pesticide.
You can make this ant killer at home DIY style for cheap.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Spray bottle
- Pure boric acid (you can get this from any hardware store).
- Table sugar
How to make the pesticide:
- Add eight teaspoons of table sugar into a standard (8oz) cup of water.
- Mix until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add 0.5 teaspoon of boric acid to the solution.
- Stir until dissolved.
- Pour into spray bottle.
How to apply:
After you make your DIY boric acid pesticide, you can take this mixture and spray the pesticide anywhere you suspect carpenter ants to be active.
Some places to apply:
- Cracks and crevices near where the ants are active
- Food sources that ants are currently eating
- Foundation, doors, and windows where they may gain entry
- Directly on the ants
- Directly on ant trails
- Around the area of ant activity as a barrier
Natural predators – What eats carpenter ants?
Ants have many natural predators that exist in the wild.
You may be able to attract these predators to help you clear up your ant problem- but the issue is that if the infestation is taking place in your house, you can’t really use natural predators as you don’t need more pests other than the carpenter ants.
However, if your carpenter ant problem is outside your home, you can use a variety of natural predators to come and eat up your ant problem.
There are many, many animals, parasites, and even bacteria and virus that will kill and destroy ants.
Common ant predators
Here are the most common predators you can lure to help you control the carpenter ant population:
- Other ants
Depending on your natural environment and location, you may or may not be able to utilize these predators.
However, if one or more of them already exist, you may be able to attract more of them to help you control your carpenter ant problem from the outside.
Carpenter ants will spend their time utilizing the nest they’ve created, so the majority of natural predators won’t be able to eat them in the first place. Therefore, this method proves to be not as effective as the others.
Borax and ants
This is probably the most popular DIY ant bait that people use at home to kill ants.
Borax can be bought for cheap at any laundry aisle, and the most popular choice is 20 Mule Team Borax. You don’t have to use this brand, but just et something that’s pure borax powder.
With borax, you can make a variety of ant traps and ant bait.
Keep reading to see how.
Does baking soda kill carpenter ants?
Baking soda doesn’t kill carpenter ants.
This is a longstanding myth that baking soda kills ants, but it’s often a misconception. Some people say when you mix baking soda with sugar, ants will eat this up and eventually get killed by it.
Ants are naturally good at identifying poison from food. There’s actually no proof that exists anywhere that baking soda will actually be carried back to the nest, eaten, and then kill ants.
That’s the theory, but there’s really no evidence online that confirms this other than anecdotal evidence from various random videos and cases online.
Since this guide needs to be accurate, using baking soda is up to you. You can try using baking soda to kill carpenter ants, but this definitely is not a guaranteed way to get rid of them. There may be other cases present that are overlooked and mistaken for baking soda as being effective.
Baking soda ant poison
However, that doesn’t mean you can try it. If you want to attempt using baking soda, here’s how you do so:
What you’ll need:
- Natural baking soda
- Table sugar
- Small container
- Take natural powdered baking soda and mix with equal parts table sugar.
- Pour together and shake in a mixing container
- Pour this mixture anywhere you notice carpenter ant activity.
- The ants will eat the mixture and take it back to their nest (as reported) and this will kill them over time.
You can sprinkle this stuff anywhere you suspect carpenter ant activity to be present, such as garbage cans, trash cans, toilets, kitchens, or anywhere else you have an ant problem.
Of course, don’t sprinkle this stuff where a pet, child, or human may come into contact with it. While baking soda is natural, you probably don’t want to consume this stuff when it’s been crawled all over by ants and other pests.
Baking soda also can be used as a two-pronged approach to killing other bugs like stink bugs, carpet beetles, and chinch bugs.
Diatomaceous earth as an ant killer
Diatomaceous earth, or DE, proves over and over to be an effective ant killer. DE is a natural powder mined from the planet and can be used just like ant killer.
You can sprinkle this stuff around the house and pretend as if it’s a barrier. Any ant that walks over the DE will be killed over time. Note that DE doesn’t kill carpenter ants right away, it takes time.
However, they’ll track the powder back to the nest and likely will get killed there. Other ants will then feed on the dead ant and they’ll be killed also. DE works by making tons of micro incisions to the host and basically cuts up the ant.
You can buy DE at any hardware store. Get the natural variety.
How to use DE for ants
Using DE is simple- just sprinkle this stuff anywhere you want to keep ants in or out, just like an invisible fence. You can use DE wherever you notice any activity or want to keep ants from entering or exiting a room.
Note that ants can climb, and if they find a way around the DE, this approach would be ineffective.
So that’s why you need to use a variety of traps for carpenter ants. DE can only be placed on the floor or across surfaces, but won’t stick to walls and such.
Be sure to use the powder where pets and children can’t reach it. Although DE is relatively harmless to humans, you don’t want this stuff being tracked around the house because this will make your barrier less effective. Use it safely!
What essential oils kill carpenter ants?
Carpenter ants use a pheromone trail to find their nest, travel, and to communicate with other ants.
When you use essential oils, you can easily ruin their trail of scents and cause confusion. This won’t kill them, but rather, confuse and deter them. You can always add carrier oil to the solution, which will then also kill the ants.
Any essential oil that smells strong will work, such as the following:
- Tea tree
- Lemon oil
Simply pour the oil into a spray bottle, then apply directly onto ants, within cracks and crevices, and directly on their trail.
This will deter and confuse the ants, but not necessarily kill them. Again, if you want the spray to also kill them, add some carrier oil to it. Then it’ll become a natural ant killer.
Does vinegar kill carpenter ants?
Vinegar is an effective carpenter ant repellent due to the sour odor vinegar naturally gives off.
While vinegar doesn’t necessary kill ants upon contact (unless you build a DIY ant trap, also covered in this guide), you can use vinegar to disrupt the pheromone trails they leave behind.
This will stop carpenter ants from recruiting other ants, and also stop them from finding their way to and from the nest and food source.
To make this natural repellent, here’s what you’ll need:
- 100% pure vinegar
- Distilled water
- Spray bottle
- Mix the vinegar and distilled water in a 1:1 part ratio, then pour into a spray bottle.
- Shake the bottle to completely mix the solution.
As you probably know, ants leave behind scents to lead other ants along that signature trail they make.
These pheromone trails can be easily disturbed by strong-smelling odors, such as vinegar, apple cider, and even rubbing alcohol.
Just spray the stuff on active ant trails, or use it as a natural DIY ant repellent at home. It’s safe for pets and kids, though you should still try to keep them from touching it, as it can become dirty over time with ant interaction and to prevent them from smearing it and ruining effectiveness.
To apply, go crazy and spray it anywhere you know there’s a current ant problem.
How to apply vinegar
You can spray and apply it to popular areas that ants seem to inhabit, such as:
- Patio doors
- Foundation cracks
An obvious solution, but not applicable for all surfaces.
Depending on what kind of surface you’re dealing with, you can always go with the old-fashioned approach of pouring boiling water over carpenter ants.
This will, of course, kill them instantly upon contact. You’ll have to clean up afterward if this is inside your house, because if you don’t, other ants will come and scavenge the dead ants.
Also, be wary of where you pour this water, and also be careful that you don’t damage your floors, furniture, or other surfaces where hot water may be a problem. The water will flood the place and may travel farther than you think.
As with any situation that could lead to serious burns, you should be very careful about using hot water and watch out for pets, other people, electronics, wall outlets, and yourself.
Don’t go pouring water without thinking, that’ll cause more problems later on.
Hot water can be used to kill ants that you normally can’t reach, such as within crevices, cracks, or under objects. If you outside, you can use hot water to kill off a trail of ants using your foundation cracks as an entry point to your house.
For example, if you see a trail of ants walking into your house outdoors using a crack on your patio or wall, you can pour boiling and flood this crack to kill them off and vaporize the trail they’re using.
Hot water works, but just because of how you use the water.
You can mix dishwasher soap and water in a 1:1 portion.
Then spray directly on ants to kill them and also mess up their scent trails. This is a safe and effective way to make some cheap ant killer at home.
Cinnamon will also effectively deter ants just like the previously mentioned essential oils.
This stuff smells strong and you can use it to confuse ants by sprinkling it all over areas where you have ant activity. You can grab cinnamon in many different forms- oil, powder, or actual cinnamon sticks.
They all work effectively- just place them as natural carpenter ant repellent stations in various areas around the home. This is a kid-friendly, pet-friendly, natural, organic (if you get organic cinnamon) and safe approach to get rid of carpenter ants.
DIY ant traps
Here you find a list of the three most popular and effective home remedy ant traps you can make for next-to-nothing. They’re natural, safe, and will passively kill ants for you with easy dispose of and no mess.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to make your own carpenter ant trap at home is to make a bottle trap.
This trap works automatically and doesn’t require you to do anything after you make it. And disposing of it is also super easy. You can just toss the bottle. No cleanup required.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Standard drinking water bottle
- A knife
- Baking soda/borax mixture (6 tablespoons of each)
- Powdered sugar (6 tablespoons)
- Water (3 tablespoons)
Here’s how you make the bottle trap:
- Fill the bottle with the water, baking soda, borax, and sugar. Note that the sugar must be powdered, not grained as this won’t work with grained sugar.
- Shake the bottle to allow the mixture to turn into liquid. Add more water as needed until the mixture is mainly liquid.
- Take the knife and carefully cut out a small triangle about 1” from the cap. This is typically where the bottle starts to taper out and doesn’t have any bottle edges or ribs to deal with.
- Place the bottle where you suspect carpenter ants to be active with the cut out facing upwards so the liquid doesn’t spill out.
That’s it. After the bottle is placed, carpenter ants will be drawn to the moisture and sugar. They’ll climb in through the small incision you made, drink the sugar, and not be able to get back out.
You can leave this bottle trap there for weeks without having to replace it. You only need to replace it when you notice that there are too many ants or the borax becomes ineffective.
This is a cheap DIY ant trap you can make for carpenter ants at home. It’s safe, natural, and as long as you keep it out of reach from kids and pets, you should have no problems.
Here’s a video demonstration of the trap:
Borax and honey trap
This carpenter ant trap is also very easy to make and costs you nothing if you already have these common ingredients at home.
What you’ll need:
- A deli cup lid (or anything similar in size and shape)
How to make it:
- Pour a glob of honey in the middle of the deli cup lid.
- Encircle the globe of honey with borax completing the entire circumference of the lid.
- Place the trap where you suspect carpenter ants to be feeding.
This trap works by killing the ants as they walk over the borax to get to the honey.
When they eat the honey, they’ll get trapped in the stickiness from the carbohydrates and as they attempt to make their way back across the borax, they’ll get stuck.
The borax will cut them up and they’ll die on the borax, or later when they take it back to the nest.
You can make a ton of these traps for cheap and place them all around the house. Ants will smell the honey and instantly scavenge for it.
Definitely useful for hard to reach areas such as under furniture or countertops.
You can keep this trap running effectively without having to replace the ant trap over and over. Replace it when it gets clogged with dead ants or when the honey becomes stale, spoiled, or rotten.
DIY ant bait and trap (all in one)
This nifty contraption is perfect for those who don’t want to look at ugly ant traps like the other two above. This one works just as well, but hides the dead ants from sight.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Granulated sugar
- Power drill
- Deli cup with solid lid (or any food container)
Here’s how to make it:
- Take the borax and sugar and mix together in equal parts. You can use whatever amounts you want, depending on the size of the container.
- Grab the deli cup and drill a hole into the side, about 1” from the top. You can use a pencil, knife, or nail if you don’t have a power drill.
- Add the mixture to the cup.
- Add some water to the mixture, judging by eye. You just need enough so that the bait feels liquidy and flows around like regular water. The trick is to add enough so that the powder from the borax and the sugar dissolves. It should look milky when done.
- The drilled hole should be above the mixture’s water level.
- Place the trap whenever you desire to catch and kill ants.
This trap works by the same principle. You can place the trap where you think carpenter ants are foraging, or near where you suspect their nest to be.
They’ll smell the sweet mixture, crawl into the hole, and then take the sugar from the container back to their next.
The borax will then kill them as they eat it from the inside out, including those in the nest. If the queen eats it, the colony will be exterminated.
This trap also hides the ants from plain view. It needs to be replaced every month. Simply dispose of it as needed. Keep this mixture away from pets and children.
Although it’s natural, you don’t want anything consuming the sweet mixture of sugar and borax.
Setting up the ant traps
You can use a variety of homemade, DIY ant traps or buy them from the store.
There are many ant traps you can make at home, which are covered in this guide.
DIY traps vs. commercial traps
To stay safe, you should use homemade natural ant traps, as you can control what kind of chemicals you put into them.
If you must use a commercial, store-bought ant trap, opt for a natural trap that doesn’t use any harmful chemicals.
After all, these are going to be used where you eat your food. You don’t want ants dragging ant trap residue all over your kitchen.
Some good commercial ant traps are the following:
- TERRO T300 Liquid Ant Baits
- PIC HomePlus Metal Ant Bait
Of course, do your own research before buying. See what others have to say. Review the chemicals. See if the trap is effective or not before buying.
So now that you’ve cleaned up your kitchen and you’ve also set up traps, the last step would be to monitor.
After a good and thorough cleaning up of your kitchen, you should have no more carpenter ants. You’ll see a few here and there.
These are the scouts and are actively looking for food. If they find something, they’ll bring the whole colony over and that’s when you’ll have another ant infestation. So kill these scouts when you see them.
Monitor your ant traps
Next would be to check the traps that you set up from time to time.
See how many ants you’ve caught.
The number shows slowly increase over time, but as you catch more and more scouts, you should also see them less crawling around your kitchen.
You can also check the placement of the traps around the kitchen and see which ones are catching the most ants. These are the areas you should focus on and try to set up more traps and watch over them yourself.
Use ant traps to check the status of where ants are hiding and how effective your traps are. They’re perfect for a two-in-one solution.
Check them periodically
Not only do they kill ants, but they also tell you a lot of detailed information as to where ants are coming from and where they’re going. They also let you know whether or not your traps and cleaning are working.
And the very last step to keep your kitchen ant-free would be none other than to keep your kitchen clean. Don’t just clean up once and forget about maintaining the cleanliness.
You need to clean up immediately after eating. Wash the bowls. Wipe down the tables. Clean up the floor. Do it after every meal or else you’ll risk another carpenter ant takeover.
After some time, you should no longer see any more ants. This is when your kitchen is now ant-free.
UKY says that they may establish nests in multiple locations, so you should use nests in a variety of places.
How to get rid of ants in the bed
Carpenter ants may start taking shelter and breeding near your bed if you have a source of food, water, and wood.
Since many modern beds are still made from wooden frames these days, carpenters may seek this out as shelter- especially if your bed is old or falling apart.
Or they may be nearby and just happened to trail across your bed while leaving their pheromone trail. Or you could be dealing with a scout. Who knows?
Note that finding ants in your bed doesn’t necessarily mean they’re carpenter ants. You may want to double-check the anatomy of these pests and verify that you’re indeed dealing with carpenters. See the “Carpenter Ant Anatomy” section above.
To get rid of ants in your bed, you’d first want to eliminate the food source. Watch the ants make their trail and see where they’re going to.
If you find no food source, they’re likely just scouts looking for food.
After you determine if there’s a food source, the next step would be to act appropriately given the situation:
If there’s a food source
Remove the food. Do a full cleaning of where the food source used to be to remove any leftovers.
After that, you’ll want to wash your sheets, blankets, and pillowcases. This is important because you’ll want to get rid of the pheromone trail, or else more ants may follow through.
After you’ve removed the food and did a thorough cleaning of your bed, the last step is to set up ant traps.
You can make your own carpenter ant traps at home (detailed in this guide) or buy commercial ones.
Since this is near where you’re sleeping and probably spending a decent amount of time, you’ll want to take a natural ant killer if possible. Go for the natural traps, and stick with homemade if you can.
You don’t want to be sniffing ant poison all day, or have ants track the poison all over your bed.
Use the traps strategically
After that, place the traps around your bed frame strategically.
Place them as needed. Near the legs would be critical, as this is where they likely have access to your actual bed. Place one trap next to each leg of the bed frame.
If your bed is touching a wall or other surface, see if you can remove contact so ants won’t have access to your bed other than the legs, where the traps will be.
The last step is to monitor the traps over time. Watch for trapped ants. Check to see which leg catches the most ants, as this would be where you should be focusing.
Over time, you should see fewer ants get trapped- this would mean your approach is working.
If not, rearrange the traps and try again with a different strategy.
If there’s no food
Watch the trail of ants. See where they’re going and where they’re coming from.
If you can identify a crack or crevice of where they’re populating from, place traps near that creative. Use DIY, natural traps if possible (read the previous section for details).
Depending on the type of entry for the ants, you can take multiple approaches:
If the ant infestation seems to be serious, apply one of the solutions on this guide to the source of the ants, such as diatomaceous earth, boric acid, or essential oils.
If the ant infestation isn’t that bad, you may be able to just place a few traps strategically. This is likely just a few scout ants and a few traps will be able to catch them and stop more ants from coming after they find a food source.
Over time, you’ll want to monitor each trap and see the ant population go down. At first, you’ll catch a lot, but over time, that amount should decrease if your approach is effective. If not, rearrange the traps and try again.
You’ll want to use the most effective approach to get rid of carpenter ants permanently.
Carpenter ants in the deck
Carpenter ants on your patio deck can prove to be annoying, especially because they’ll take shelter in the wood on your deck.
Since the wood on your patio is exposed to the elements, this would lead to the wood to become prime nesting material for carpenter ants.
Thankfully, the process to get rid of them from your patio would be exactly the same.
You can use any of the following methods (all detailed throughout this pest control guide) to get rid of carpenter ants on your deck:
- Essential oils
- DIY ant traps
- Boric acid
- Diatomaceous earth
- DIY ant killer
- Boiling water
Any of these approaches would be effective in handling ants on your deck. Just be patient since ant problems that are outdoors are more difficult to resolve.
Remember to use a variety of approaches if one doesn’t work, use another. Use a combo of different DIY techniques to get the most effective solution to getting rid of your ant problem.
Carpenter ants in the ceiling and attic
Carpenter ants in your ceiling will require that you be diligent and act accordingly.
If you’re able to access the fake ceiling and remove the panels, get into the crawl space and apply a variety of repellents and kills to the ants.
Assuming you’re able to locate the nest, start there and use some traps, DIY killer, and essential oils.
If you’re unable to get behind the ceiling, you’ll have to use what you have access to- by applying traps, essential oils, and various other techniques found in this guide around the exit crevice the ants are using.
Find where they’re coming outta the ceiling and apply traps, essential oils, and sticky tape to trap any forager ants.
This will choke the colonY because they won’t be able to collect food. And thus, the colony will shrink in the population without a stable food source and eventually the ants will be killed without a supply of necessities.
Carpenter ants in trees
Carpenter ants in your trees can prove to be difficult to deal with.
After all, they’re taking shelter in the wood that your trees naturally offer, which means they have plenty of places to hide and a plentiful source of food.
The best approach would be to first prune the tree. Cut off all excess branches, and if necessary, remove everything but the stump. You may have to cut the entire tree down, especially if the tree is a breeding ground.
And this tree may just lead them into your house if there’s a bridge (such as a branch that connects to your house or touches your house).
They may also build a path into your house from foundation crevices, crawl spaces, or other cracks.
Remove the tree professionally
The tree must be removed if this is the case, otherwise, you’ll have to use extreme measures.
To get rid of carpenter ants in your trees, you’ll first want to prune the tree.
After that, you can start by using some basic, natural approaches, such as some homemade ant killer, ant traps, and sticky tape. Use a few of the methods on this pest guide and go from there- if one doesn’t work, use another.
Cutting down the tree would be the last resort. This is necessary if none of the other approaches work, and if you’ve tried both commercial and natural DIY solutions.
Carpenter ants in the yard
This goes with the same approach as above.
You’ll find their nests in woodpiles, trees, or other woody areas. Dispose of any unnecessary wood, compost, or piles.
Prune your trees, or cut them down. If they’re invading your patio deck or other wooden structures, apply a variety of the methods mentioned throughout this guide, such as DIY traps, commercial traps, essential oils, DIY repellents, and DIY ant killer.
They’re all outlined here. Use the proper method as needed.
See what works for you.
Not all carpenter ant problems require the same solutions. You’ll have to do some work and figure out what works best for your specific situation.
You can ask a question using the comments section below and I’ll try to help you out (for free) as soon as I can.
Carpenter ants in the walls or crawl space
This may require that you hire a professional since you probably don’t want to tear your own walls down.
However, you can attempt a few different ways before you do so. You can start by placing traps around the coexist of the nest.
Use a few natural or commercial ant traps to catch any forager scout worker ants, so they’ll have difficulty finding any new food sources to keep their colony fed.
The next thing you’ll want to do is directly apply essential oils around the nest crevices and cracks. You’ll probably find ants coming from a crack in your wall. Apply essential oils around the exits to deter and disrupt their pathing.
Watch for trapped ants
Now that you’ve barricaded the nest, the next thing you’ll want to do is constantly monitor the ant activity.
By applying various traps, such as sticky tape, they’ll have trouble exiting the nest. Without food, the colony will eventually shrink in size and the ants will suffer.
You can do this until the ant population shrinks, or you may have to hire a professional in this case if you can’t do anything effective to control the pest population.
Never use any of methods directly to appliances, electrical outlets, or any other area where it could pose a danger risk. Use common sense and exercise extreme caution.
How to get rid of carpenter ants when you have pets
The easiest way would be to use all-natural solutions, as detailed by this guide.
If you have pets, children, or other sensitive beings, you’ll want to use a natural approach to get rid of them.
That’s why you’re here though, right? I’ve outlined many different ways you can repel and kill carpenter ants using kid-friendly and pet-friendly methods here.
See the above section “how to get rid of carpenter ants naturally” for my methods!
How to get rid of carpenter ants in the kitchen
The first step to getting rid of ants in the kitchen would be to eliminate the source of food. Once the food disappears, you’ll find that the carpenter ants will disappear overnight- without needing you to kill them and clean up.
You also don’t have to use any poisonous sprays that may leave behind any dangerous compounds.
If you notice a trail of ants eating up something in your kitchen, try getting rid of the food source first and cleaning up any additional food contents in the area.
Provided that you don’t have any other source of food within the area, the ants will automatically leave the area. You don’t even have to clean them up or kill them- they’ll just leave.
You should seriously use this natural approach to get rid of carpenter ants because it’s super easy and doesn’t require any additional work other than eliminating the food source.
Securing your kitchen
But if you want to take action now and do something about ants in your kitchen, you should first consider security all accessible food:
- Use canning or mason jars for sugars, spices, and herbs.
- Store all your loose food in airtight containers.
- Don’t leave pet food, water, or other sources available to ants.
- Clean up your cupboards, drawers, and other cabinets of food sources, definitely. This is a given and you should always keep your kitchen clean.
- Remove any spills or splashes from all surfaces- including the floor.
- Clean up the handles of tools, utensils, planets from food buildup.
- Clean up tables, counters, and other surfaces where food may be leftover, sticking, or building up.
Doing all this will get rid of the food source that attracts ants.
After you’ve done a good cleaning of your kitchen, the next step would be to set up traps.
How do I permanently get rid of ants in my house?
This would be best answered by combining pretty much everything we’ve covered in this pest control guide.
Preventing future carpenter ant problems may be impossible, but at least you can significantly minimize the chances of them showing up all over your house again.
The main thing you can do is to simply keep your house clean. This is the most important and effective approach to keeping carpenter ants out in the first place.
You may still see scouts here and there, but as long as they don’t find any food to bring the rest of the colony, you’ll be okay.
Use traps. A lot of traps.
Setting up DIY ant traps or commercial traps would be the next step.
This will help you keep a nice defense network that works around the clock without having you do anything.
These traps will catch and kill ants that happen to be wandering around the area, and also may kill a few scouts to prevent them from ever going back to the nest and bringing the rest of the worker ants.
You’ll want to set up traps to monitor your progress over time. Take a peek at each trap here and there to see what ants the trap has caught. You can gauge ant activity and also see what areas of your home you may need to focus on.
Keep your home and yard clean
Simply doing those two practices will help you get rid of carpenter ants permanently from your home:
- Maintaining a good cleaning ritual and practicing good hygiene
- Setting up traps and monitoring them over time
Other than that, you’ll want to correct any moisture problems you may have in your home, like leaks on your roof or plumbing.
As mentioned earlier, you’ll also want to trim down, cut down, or prune trees or other plants from the outdoors that offer a bridge to your home.
Sealing up cracks and crevices in your foundation, doors, windows, and other entryways will prevent ants and other outdoor pests from making their way into your home.
Anything wood needs to be watched. Dispose of woodpiles, decorations, or any other wooden objects as these are grounds for carpenter ants to take shelter.
Moving forward, by doing all these steps, you can prevent further infestations of carpenter ants and prevent them permanently.
Did you get rid of your carpenter ant problem?
Well, that’s about all I have for you.
This will help you get rid of your carpenter ant problem and using a variety of these techniques should do the trick. Of course, use a variety of them and see what works for you.
Don’t stick to just one method, use a bunch and see what’s effective.
If you have any carpenter ant tricks yourself, definitely leave a comment and help another reader!
Or if you have specific questions regarding your ant problem, you can ask in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.
1 thought on “How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants Naturally (Ultimate Guide)”
This was very informative and helpful. You did a fine job Anthony…Thank you.