Carpenter ants are a troublesome pest to find in or around your  NJ, PA, or NY home. Like termites, carpenter ants burrow into wooden structures to build nests; however, they don’t consume the wood they’re tunneling through.

Like other common household ant species—such as the pavement ant and odorous house ant—carpenter ants have a fondness for sweets and other common food sources around your home, including honeydew, pet food, honey, meats, etc.

Considering their damaging nesting habits and voracious appetites, it’s safe to say that carpenter ants aren’t a pest you’ll be happy to find around your property. If you’ve had the misfortune of finding an infestation of these worrisome pests, read on for our top tips and tricks for removal.

Identifying Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are among the largest ants in North America and are typically much larger than other ant species. For example, adult workers can reach lengths of 12 mm, while queens can grow up to 20 mm!

Additionally, carpenter ant workers are polymorphic, meaning they vary in size.

Regarding other distinguishable characteristics, carpenter ants have extremely distinct heart-shaped heads and smooth thoraxes. They’re also found in multiple colors, including black, brown, red, or any combination of these colors.

Like termites, you may spot carpenter ant “swarmers” from May to August as they flee old colonies in search of new locations to build nests.

Why Do I Suddenly Have Carpenter Ants in My House?

If you spot a few individual workers roaming your home, especially near a door or window, there’s a good chance that they’ve ventured indoors from a neighboring outdoor colony in search of food. In this case, there isn’t a huge cause for concern.

However, if you’re noticing a large number of workers indoors or swarmers in Spring/Summer, there’s likely a developed colony in your home or nearby. It’s important to note that swarmers only emerge from 2-year-old+, well-established colonies.

What Happens if You Ignore Carpenter Ants?

While not quite as destructive or expensive as the cost of termite treatment, carpenter ants can still cause massive amounts of damage to wooden structures, especially mature colonies. If an infestation is ignored for an extended time (years), there’s a good chance that serious structural damage to support beams, wall studs, and ceiling and floor joists has occurred.

To avoid a hefty repair bill, it’s best to have carpenter ant infestations handled as soon as they’re spotted.

carpenter ants can still cause massive amounts of damage to wooden structures,

9 Carpenter Ant Removal Methods

1. Apply an Insecticide

Insecticide treatment can be incredibly effective against carpenter ants; however, applying the product can be tricky.

Once you’ve determined the location of the ant nest, drill holes every six inches into the wood’s surface.

Then, using a bulb duster, inject insecticide into the holes. You should notice a reduction in activity as ants come into contact with the chemical.

2. Place Bait Traps Near the Nest

While insecticides are useful, they’re often ineffective at penetrating deep into the nest and wiping out the queen; that’s where bait traps come into play.

Place these traps near the suspected colony. As workers leave the nest to find food, they’ll bring the insecticide-laden bait back into the nest, where it’s consumed by additional workers and, with any luck, the queen.

3. Eliminate the Nest

The most effective way to eliminate a carpenter ant colony is to destroy its nest, whether indoors or outdoors. If possible, remove the affected wood; however, this is increasingly difficult indoors as you won’t want to weaken the structural integrity of your home further.

4. Clean Scent Trails

Like other common ants, carpenter ants rely on pheromone trails to maneuver through the world. Once created, these scent trails can last for days, allowing thousands of ants to travel through them like highways.

While erasing the scent trail won’t directly get rid of the ants, it’s a good way to disrupt them.

Try spraying vinegar and water directly onto the trail, masking its scent and breaking ants from their formation. Baking soda is another effective cleaner to remove the scent trail.

5. Eliminate Food Sources

It’s a common misconception that, like termites, carpenter ants consume the wood that they build their nest in; however, that’s not the case at all.

Instead, carpenter ants mimic the eating habits of most other ant species, preferring sugary substances, bread, meat, and even pet food. As a result, eliminating these food sources is an effective means of controlling their populations.

Try sealing open food into air-tight containers, cleaning up crumbs, and not leaving anything unattended on the counter, especially sweets!

6. Use a Desiccant

Common desiccants used in the pest control industry, including diatomaceous earth and silica gel, are effective ant killers. These compounds cling to ants as they crawl through them, serrating their exoskeletons and dehydrating them until death. Try placing desiccants in the ant’s high-traffic areas for maximum effectiveness.

7. Remove Old Standing Water

Carpenter ants prefer damp, soft wood to begin constructing their nests. Because of this, removing standing water and repairing any water leaks in and around your home is essential.

8. Remove Old/Rotting Wood

As mentioned previously, ants love old, softwood for constructing their nests; though this isn’t limited to structural supports within your home. If there are wood piles, old stumps, or dilapidated structures on your property, these are perfect locations for swarmers to land and begin burrowing and should be removed.

9. Contact an Exterminator

If the above methods aren’t successful at ridding your home of the infestation, it’s best to reach out to a qualified professional.

Carpenter ants can cause significant structural damage and are notoriously difficult to eliminate, making professional assistance the only surefire way to rid your home of these pesky insects.

For information on our treatment options and services, including our Pest Protect 365 plan, contact Anchor Pest Control.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants FAQ

Do Carpenter Ants Eat Wood? 

No, while this is a common misconception, carpenter ants only burrow into wood to build nests. Unlike termites, they prefer sugary substances, meats, and pet food.

How Can You Identify a Carpenter Ant?

Carpenter ants have several features that differentiate them from other ant species, including their large size, heart-shaped head, smooth thorax, and red/brown/black color.

How Destructive Are Carpenter Ants? 

While not as destructive as termites, carpenter ants can cause significant structural damage to floor and ceiling joints, subfloors, wall studs, and other wooden structures.