Carpenter Ant Control and Treatments

Carpenter Ants are one of the largest ants we have in the United States. Their range is throughout our country. Typically you'll know you have carpenter ants because you'll start noticing large, black ants foraging randomly on or around the home.


Carpenter Ant Biology

In addition to the traditional large Black Carpenter Ant, there is the Florida Carpenter Ant. These ants are smaller, travel less than their cousins, and have a wide range of colors including yellow, red, light to dark brown and black. Carpenter Ants are unique. Regardless of which carpenter ant you have, their characteristics will include:

1) Scent trails which may be hundreds of feet in length (expect to see only a few ants on this trail at any given moment).

2) Nocturnal activity (mostly active at night).

3) Chewing on wood structures and in wall or ceiling voids for nesting.

4) An ability to identify leaky, damp wood and spaces.

5) An ability to avoid chemically treated areas and find new ways into a structure.


Carpenter Ant Nests

Carpenter Ants typically set up a series of nests which are all "linked" together. This network of nests can be in series enabling foraging workers and scouts to have a place of safe haven when out and about doing their chores. This structure also helps to preserve any one colony because it's rare that all the members will ever be in one location at one time. Should any one "satellite" nest be destroyed, the other nests will usually have enough members left to enable the colony to move on and survive. This is also why controlling carpenter ants can sometimes be a difficult job. If you only get 1-2 of their nests but miss even one satellite colony, they might be able to rebound and rebuild. This is why a thorough and complete treatment is needed when implementing a carpenter ant program. The following video demonstrates just how determined and agile these ants can be. This footage was taken of a colony that was in the midst of relocating their nest. Recent rains was flooding out their in ground nest and they were prepared to move up and out of the water. When moving they'll grab eggs and pupae first thus insuring the survival of their family members.


Carpenter Ant Problems

Carpenter Ants are a problem when they forage into your home. You may see only one or two an evening, but even this small amount means you have a nest or scent trail which needs attention.

Carpenter Ant Swarmers and what they mean

Another sign you have a carpenter ant infestation is if you happen to find a lot of large black ants with wings. Like most any ant, carpenter ants generate "swarmers", or winged reproductives, whose sole purpose is to leave an existing nest to fly away and land somewhere to start a new nest. These swarmers tend to be released during the spring but may be found at any time. If you are finding these in the home, chances are there is a nest located somewhere on the structure. This video shows an actual carpenter ant nest that was created in a deer feeder just outside a home. From this nest the ants could invade several homes and cause all kinds of problems. More importantly, if left untreated, these carpenter ants would undoubtedly create many more nests. Watch carefully and you'll be able to see some swarmers, the ones with wings, as well as all different sized workers.


Carpenter Ant Treatments

If you suspect you have carpenter ants, try to determine the magnitude of the problem. Get answers to these questions: Are they in one room or more? Are they originating from a nest in the building or from a wooded lot alongside the structure? Does your regular pest control program include perimeter treatment of the ground and/or foundation of your buildings? With answers to these questions, you may address your carpenter ant problem using a three step approach. Since carpenter ants can cover a large area, doing all three steps insures a swift and complete resolution to any type of invasion.


Inside the home

Although you are compelled to spray something in the home, don't. Spraying will only work if you are certain where the nest is located. Common carpenter ant nest sights include the dishwasher, under cabinets, around pipes, attics, leaky windows, leaky roofs, leaky doors, wall voids and garage door jams. If you are not sure where the nest is, baiting the inside is much more effective. When baiting, make sure all food stuff is removed so foraging carpenter ants have no choice of food except the bait. More about baiting will be discussed below.


Perimeter treatments around the home

This is the area immediately adjacent to the structure. If you are not treating this area on a regular basis, reconsider. Monthly or quarterly treatments on the outside of your building will get rid of carpenter ants that are foraging and in effect, provide long term carpenter ant control. In fact, most structures develop invading pest problems because the outside is neglected. A liquid material should be sprayed two or three feet up from the ground. This barrier will stop current carpenter ants and future activity. By minimizing such activity, you are effectively stopping any insect from making it's way onto and into your home. Regular treatments done around any structure can really help minimize pest invasions including carpenter ants.


Yard treatment

This area may be the reason your building is having a problem in the first place. If general pests are ignored and allowed to exist on common ground, they will find their way into your buildings. This is especially true with Carpenter Ants because they forage further than most any ground walking insect. Inspect trees, pine islands, old wood piles, decks, stumps, wooded lots, fences and adjacent buildings. It is quite common to identify Carpenter Ant colonies in one building that were foraging to an adjoining building. Carpenter ant control can be obtained by treating the yard successfully in the one yard even though the nest might continue to prosper on a property adjacent or close by to the area you want carpenter ant free. By keeping the population of Carpenter Ants down around your buildings, you will keep them from foraging inside.


How to get rid of Carpenter Ants

If you know where a nest might be located, a direct treatment should be done. Getting carpenter ants where they nest is very effective and should be done when possible. The key here is knowing where the nest is located. This can be tricky. One thing you can do that will really help find these locations is to spend some time trying to figure out where carpenter ants might be nesting. And remember, there could be several nests. Rare is the time when only nest exists; many times there are signs of ant activity but you must know where to look. This will usually involve spending some time around the outside of the home just watching them forage but it will be time well spent. This video explains how to best do this.

Carpenter Ant Frass Sawdust and what it means

Also, if you have already found some "frass" or wood shavings somewhere outside or in the home, there is a good chance of a carpenter ant nest being present close by. Since these ants do not travel in large numbers, do not expect to see a big trail of them although this might happen from time to time like you see in the video above. Or you may get lucky and see a spot around a window frame or door where many are going. These are sure signs of a local nest and the best way to deal with them when you know where they are is to dust them directly with one of the products listed below.

Best Carpenter Ant Dust

The best carpenter ant dust to use when you know where a nest is active is either DRIONE DUST or PYGANIC DUST.  Both these formulations are easy to work with and will dehydrate all stages of carpenter ants. Use one of our  HAND DUSTERS. apply them. These are designed to apply the dust into cracks and crevices.


Pyganic Dust:

Hand Duster:

Drione and Pyganic is light and penetrates well into any space it is applied. This video explains why Drione is such a great product to use.

How to Best use Carpenter Ant Dust

Remember, do not use liquid material in these nest sights as it will certainly fail to reach all sections of the nest. Dusting is the only choice and Drione or Pyganic is the best dust to use. They has several benefits including a long residual, a desiccant impact and where you treat, insects cannot live. I like this feature because I am able to eliminate nest sights by treating specific areas. One by one you are able to locate hard to find carpenter ant nests by the process of elimination. In most cases, cracks and crevices which are around the nest sight will provide enough of a route for the dust to penetrate when you treat. If you need, drill 1/4" holes in window frames, wall voids or other places nests are thought to be which are difficult to treat. This effort will allow for better dust coverage and quicker control. To see just how effective Drione can be, watch this next video. In this clip you will see several carpenter ant nests treated and the treatment kills all the ants immediately. When you know where the carpenter ants are nesting, there isn't anything better then Drione and Pyganic is a close second!


Best Carpenter Ant Gel Bait

If you are unsure there is a nest or if you suspect that foraging workers are finding their way into your home, use bait to stop them. By killing these worker and scout ants, you are intercepting a possible nest from being formed. Carpenter ants love to establish "satellite" colonies away from their main nest but close to food or water. Many times these secondary nests are formed in homes. The use of baits in the home will deter this from happening. Set out some CARPENTER ANT GEL anywhere you are seeing ant activity. It has a honeydew base, a natural food for carpenter ants, and since the bait is moist and almost a "liquid", they will feed on it almost immediately. It is not uncommon to find them swarming around it within moments of being applied.

Carpenter Ant Gel:


Most importantly, this is the only inside bait which has had the ability to kill off entire nests by it's impact. Although ant baits may do so with other species of ants, baits for carpenter ants have not been consistently able to achieve such success. This is thought to be so because of the carpenter ants diverse diet as well as the fact that there are usually several nests to contend with controlling. Carpenter Ant Gel is so essential to them that they must feed on available supplies. This is due to the main attractant, honeydew, which is a much sort after food source required for young larva. When carpenter ants find this food they will readily focus all their attention on getting some while supplies last. The Gel is then brought back to the nest and given to the larva. The adult ants don't eat it; what they collect they give to their young. The young feed and their digestive process activates the Gel. However, this activation occurs late in the digestive cycle so they will remain alive to pass it through their system. Once released as feces, the now activated material does it's job. Within a day or two of passing the Gel the entire carpenter ant colony is dead!


Once the inside is treated, it's time to move outside

Since carpenter ants start from outside and move in, you need to get rid of carpenter ants around the home which in turn will stop new ant nests from being established. Get these ants before they get inside by baiting the yard.


Best Yard Granules for Carpenter Ants

The following "outside" products are designed to hold up against the elements and are formulated with attractants carpenter ants like. The foraging scout and worker ants will find the bait, feed on it and distribute it throughout unsuspecting colonies. This will lead to nest control around your home which will decrease the odds that any are able to get inside. There are two products that work well for the outside. MAXFORCE GRANULES and the new CARPENTER ANT GRANULES.  The Carpenter Ant Granules typically are best used where you are seeing active ants. They'll be accepted almost immediately and foraging carpenter ants will begin bringing some back to their nest quickly. Once they feed, they will die.  Remember, ants are looking for food – so feed them! Don't waste your time hoping that some residual granule will be walked upon after you sprinkle it out and it washes deep down in the thatch of your yard. This strategy doesn't work for carpenter ants. This is especially true since carpenter ants like to spend their time high and dry. Baiting outside will have a direct impact on many nests and allows a direct approach without any knowledge of where the nest is located. Do this treatment throughout the year and you'll be able to keep carpenter ants off your property all the time.

Maxforce Granules:

Advance Ant Bait:


Good Carpenter Ant Spray for outside the home

To deal with the ants which miss the outside bait and to prevent scout ants from coming inside the home, the last thing you need to do around the home is spray a perimeter defense. The active ingredient you use should be either CYPERMETHRIN or DELTAMETHRIN. Both of these actives work well on many pests but ants seem to dislike them more than most. A good barrier will keep ants at bay so they will be forced to find another nest site and food supply than your home. Regular treatments done every 1-2 months will help keep the treatment fresh and effective but on some surfaces, it won't last as long as you like.


D-fense SC:


Best Carpenter Ant Spray for when you don't know where the nest is located

If you find the treatment is short lived, change actives to one of the newer compounds like PHANTOM or TERMIDOR. These actives are unique in that they are very slow acting and will many times take 4-8 days to kick in. The amazing thing about them is that they will actually effect the whole colony. And all it takes is one ant walking on a treated surface. These products have proven themselves in the last year and should be considered for odd treatment situations like fences, log homes and trees. Remember, carpenter ants will many times infest a tree and their nest can end up being 50-100 feet up. Traditional sprays and baits won't work well on such infestations. But if you spray the bark of the tree making sure to get a good complete barrier in place all the way around, they will end up walking over some of the treatment for sure. Once they trail the Termidor or Phantom up to the main nest, all the occupants will die off. This will help prevent further depreciation of the tree and could even save it from a premature death.

Phantom EC:



Regardless of the active you choose to use, it's important to use it right. This will mean getting a good SPRAYER. For most situations, any one of our pump sprayers will suffice and most homes will need 1-2 gallons to be applied. These treatments should be done on the foundation and on the ground with a band that is about 3 feet wide. This insures that any carpenter ants which choose to walk on the treated surface will be affected. For a more detailed explanation on how to spray around your home, watch this video on foundation spraying.

Pump Sprayer:


In Summary

1) If you are in an area where there are a lot of carpenter ants active around the home, you should address the outside turf with some Maxforce Granules or Carpenter Ant Granules along with one of the perimeter sprays to insure they don't start nesting on the home.

2) If you occasionally see one or two ants in the home throughout the warm season and into the winter, be sure to bait and spray the outside as listed in Step One, but also place out some Carpenter Ant Gel in the home. This will insure you don't have active carpenter ant nests inside and the great thing about the gel is that you don't have to know where the nest is located.

3) If you know the exact location of a nest either outside or in the home, treat it directly with some Drione Dust. This product will knock the carpenter ant nest out immediately and will provide the fastest results when you know nest locations.

Carpenter ants are a major pest in the United States. If left untreated, they will chew through wood causing untold damage. Since carpenter ants forage great distances and like to have several nest locations, it's not easy to control local infestations unless you follow the treatment outlined above.

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