Similarly to termites, carpenter ants damage your home’s structure by eating away at any wood they can find. That’s why if you suspect your home may have termites or carpenter ants, you should immediately address the problem. Eliminate carpenter ants in your house and keep them out for good. Find out how.
What are Carpenter Ants?
Carpenter ants are almost an inch long and are black in color. They differ in appearance from termites by having a narrower waist, a very dark-colored body and bent-looking antennae. Carpenter ants live in rotting trees, logs, and any damp areas near wood that they can find. If you have seen carpenter ants in your home, then chances are it’s due to a source of damp wood such as rotten siding or roofing material.
How Carpenter Ants Work
Carpenter ants don't actually eat wood; they excavate it to create tunnels and galleries as passageways for movement to and from their nest. They swarm mostly in the spring and can frequently be seen in the yard, especially near old tree stumps, before they make their way indoors. Swarmer carpenter ants have wings. These ants can survive for months without eating, so once they infest your property, they can potentially stay around for a long while.
How to Prevent Carpenter Ants in Your House
- Prevent and eliminate sources of moisture, such as plumbing leaks or roof problems.
- Check your HVAC system’s humidifier to make sure it is set properly.
- Purchase a dehumidifier to keep in your basement, which will further decrease moisture.
- Remove dead tree stumps and maintain your lawn regularly. The less interested carpenter ants are in your yard, the less interested they'll be in entering your home.
- Place white gravel around your home. Homeowners report seeing carpenter ants actually crawl away from white gravel, which is hot, dry, and rough – not the type of landscaping ants enjoy.
How to Detect Carpenter Ants in Your House
You can detect carpenter ants in the house by:
- Looking for piles or trails of sawdust throughout your home, signs that the ants are slowly damaging the wooden structure.
- Listening for crunching or crinkling noises. Listen closely to the floor or the frame of your house for the sound of ants working on the wood. It's best to do this when there is minimal noise, such as at night.
How To Get Rid of Carpenter Ants
- Use boric acid. Boric acid acts as an insecticide and kills the ants. Mix 3 tablespoons of boric acid in a cup of warm water, adding 1/2 cup sugar to attract the ants. Put the solution in a dish near the ants' nest. You can also soak cotton balls in the mixture, and place around the nest for the ants to feed on.
- Bait ants outdoors. Baiting works well for carpenter ant problems outside. Place a sweet bait in the area of the nest. As the ants start coming out, spray them with insecticide. The next step is to pour lots of boiling water over the area. This works well for nests that are not very deep, in a tree stump or log.
- Contact a licensed exterminator. For a serious infestation, you’ll need to find an experienced pest control expert to get rid of the carpenter ants in your house, as well as their nest.
Updated January 2, 2017.