How to kill carpenter ants – effective advice to end an infestation for good

Carpenter ants may be minute – but they can cause huge problems around the home. Here's how the professionals eliminate them efficiently

Carpenter Ant on a leaf in the garden
(Image credit: GettyImages)

If you're faced with the question of how to kill carpenter ants, you've likely had sightings of this pest around your home. If this is the case, it's important to act fast – because while these insects are small, they can cause significant damage around your home. 

While you may already know how to get rid of ants in your home, it's important to handle the notorious carpenter with extra urgency and caution. These pests (which are commonly black in color) have the capability to threaten the structure of your home as it fractures the wood to build their nests. So, it's imperative to resolve an infestation as soon as you notice any carpenter activity. 

How to kill carpenter ants – the professional solution to a harmful infestation

Carpenter Ants on wood

(Image credit: GettyImages)

If you're wondering why do ants come into the house, you may have noticed an increase in creature activity around your home. However, of all species, carpenter ants are arguably the most detrimental to your property. Here's how the experts deal with them – for good. 

What are the steps to get rid of carpenter ants?

Marc Potzler, the Board Certified Entomologist with Ehrlich Pest Control (opens in new tab), explains that your treatment method comes down to the type of nest you're handling.

'Carpenter ants live in a network of nests: a Parent Colony, which is almost always outside, and Satellite Nests, located in a radius around the parent colony,' Marc says. 'The Satellite Nests act to expand the foraging range of the parent nest, and they are in frequent contact with the Parent Nest to share resources.'

If a smaller nest site is found, Marc recommends directly applying an aerosol or dust into the void will eliminate it immediately.

However, the Parent Colonies are much larger (often around several feet long), making them harder to treat. You can do so with baits – which you should place next to the ants’ observed trails (but not across the trail). 'The closer to the void opening the baits are placed, the better results will be seen,' Marc says.

There may be multiple satellite nests in one home. All of them, plus the Parent Colony, must be eliminated to end the infestation. Otherwise, the Parent Colony will send another group of workers to re-establish an exterminated satellite nest.

 What is the fastest way to get rid of carpenter ants? 

'Finding and directly applying a contact or residual insecticide [such as this one on Amazon (opens in new tab)] to the nest site(s) will offer the fastest results,' Marc says. Though, he adds that, due to the difficulty in locating every satellite nest, slower-acting products such as baits may provide faster overall results. 

'Never spray near bait placements,' he adds. 'And take care to avoid applying insecticides where they may contact food or where children or pets may be harmed.'

 Melanie Rose, a Trained Pest Control Specialist from Nationwide Pest Control (opens in new tab), adds that you will need to apply dust-based insecticides, such as boric acid, which is strong enough to kill the pest for good. 'These insecticides are helpful because they penetrate existing cracks in the interior walls of your home and other wall voids,' she adds.

Carpenter ant on a leaf

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Why do I suddenly have carpenter ants?

Food, water, and shelter are essential for all pests, including carpenter ants. However, this creature also craves a protein source for egg production and larval rearing and a sugar source for adult ant energy, so it's important to keep on top of cleaning tips and remove any food residue that may attract the insect. 

'Good housekeeping inside will help keep ants from foraging inside,' Marc explains. Fresh water is also important but much more difficult to control – a drop of dew is a lot of water for an ant.'

However, the prevention tactics don't end there. The pest control expert also urges you to ensure your window and front door ideas are maintained to avoid moisture-damaged wood that is the perfect base for a parent colony nest site. He suggests keeping doors and windows well caulked to reduce the likelihood of carpenter ants being attracted to your home.  

Carpenter ant on a leaf

(Image credit: GettyImages)

How do you find a carpenter ant nest?

'Following an ant trail back to the opening to the void the nest is in may lead you to the nest,' Marc suggests. However, he warns that some ants enter a home through the foundation before moving to the attic to create their nest, so this is not always an accurate method. 

'Once close to the nest, you can hear the ants moving around inside the void: the sound resembles crinkling cellophane. A moisture meter, used by many professionals, will help further narrow down exactly where the nest is inside the void,' he adds. You'll likely find nests around common construction errors that encourage leaks over time (such as a chimney). 

Megan Slack
Megan Slack

Megan is the News and Trends Editor at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes. As the News Editor, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.