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Carpenter Ants and How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

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More Ant Control Information | Carpenter Ant Control Recommendations | Prevention of Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ant Appearance

Scale : Small ants to the larger Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are large, from 1/4 o 3/8 inches long and are dark brown to black, but some may have red or yellow coloration. The black carpenter ant, Camponotus pennsylvanicus, in the east and C. modoc in the west are the most thoroughly studied species in the United States. Other species of Camponotus are distributed throughout the country. The queens are slightly bigger. The workers of an established colony very in size. The usual carpenter ant is large and black, but the Florida carpenter ant, is smaller and ranges in colors from yellow, red, brown to black.
Black carpenter ant

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Florida carpenter ant

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(Camponotus pennsylvanicus): Color: All black

Workers: 1/4-1/2 inch in size

Queen: Large, over 1/2 inch in size

Swarming: Colony matures in 3-4 years,
swarming occurs in late spring-summer


(Camponotus modoc)

Color: Black Body, red dark legs

Workers:1/5-1/2 inch in size, but variable

Queen: Large, over 1/2 inch in size

swarming occurs in late spring-summer.

Colony size: Up to 15,000 workers


(Cabdominalis floridanus)

Color: Red head,black abdomen,thorax and legs

Workers: Smaller,3/16-3/8 inches in size

Queen: Large, over 1/2 inch in size

Swarming: Unmated swarmers in satellite colonies

Location: Florida, extreme southeast U.S.

Colony size: Up to 3,500 workers.

Recommended Control Measures

After inspecting for carpenter ants, you will have determined if they are simply outside, foraging inside or you might have a colony or satellite colony on the inside.

Often, the ones you see inside your home are simply foraging for food, and you may not see large numbers of them. Foraging workers can travel 100 yards from nest to food and can be found wandering throughout your house.

The two control measures are baiting and spraying or a combination of both.

Baiting Procedures: Foraging Carpenter Ants and Carpenter Ants in recessed areas

Another good treatment choice is to bait inside and the grounds outside with a baits like:

Advance 375A Ant Bait

Maxforce Carpenter Ant Bait Gel.

These two baits would allow the foraging workers to take the bait to the queens eliminating the colony /colonies, thereby preventing future outdoor populations from coming inside.

Both of these baits works well with carpenter ants and will hold up outside. Carpenter ants will feed on sweets sometimes and at other times will feed on proteins.
The Maxforce Carpenter Ant Bait Gel contains honeydew, one of the major food sources for these ants. The Advance 375 A Ant Bait is protein based for there protein needs.

It would be expedient to use both baits for a complete balance of their dietary needs. We do carry a special kit with both products and Taurus SC :
carpenter ant bait kit with taurus sc
Carpenter Ant Kit
made up of Taurus SC and carpenter ant baits at a reduced cost

Foraging ants find the bait and distribute it to the colonies.

It is important not to put repellent insecticides, liquid or granulated, in the same areas, they would contaminate the baits. Only use a non repellent insecticide.

It is important to remove other competing food sources (such as crumbs and pet food),that could interfere with them taking the bait.

Feel free to call us for further information or help.

Spraying procedures for foraging Carpenter Ants

At times you will have foraging ants that come from the outside to the inside, forage for food , then leave going back outside to their nests.

A good defense for such a scenario would be a perimeter treatment with a non repellent residual insecticide such as:

taurus sc Taurus SC

Taurus SC would be sprayed every sprayed every 2-3 months.

Taurus SC is the preferred choice, because it is a non repellent insecticide. Because the ants can't detect it, they don't avoid it, tracking it back to the nest.

It preferred choice particularly when using ant baits, because it won't repel them from the bait. In addition the ants, Taurus SC controls a wide variety of insects including termites, spiders, roaches, centipedes, millipedes, ticks, and many more

carpenter ant bait kit with taurus
Carpenter ant kit
made up of Taurus SC and carpenter ant baits at a reduced cost.

. Spray around the foundation of the structure, around 2-3 feet high as well as around the ground floor doors and windows.

Treating the voids: Colonies inside a recessed area

Indoor nest are also found in hollow doors, window sills, behind baseboards, or other natural hollow areas.
These are the areas that warrant a complete inspection.

Their damage usually indicates water damage and wood decay.
If you can determine where their nests are, you can use an aerosol with as:
alpine pt aerosol
Alpine PT Aerosol (Non Repellent )
Use Alpine PT Aerosol with a crack and crevice tip would work well in void areas, where you don't know exactly where the nest is located.
alpine ant and termite foamAlpine Ant & Termite Foam Use Alpine Ant and Termite Foam (Non Repellent )when you know exactly where the gallery is located.

Note: It is not recommended that you use a liquid insecticide in a wall void. You can treat wall voids and other hidden spaces where ants hide by carefully drilling a series of small (1/8 inch) holes and dusting the area with a residual insecticide dust such as D Fense Dust or you can use an aerosol with a crack and crevice tip or an aerosol that foams.

These methods provide a long-term residual effect.
If you suspect the nest is in a wall, drill and treat at least 2-6 feet on either side of where ants are entering in order to maximize the opportunity to contact the nest directly, so you can get the queen.


ALWAYS use aerosols or dusts.
NEVER use liquid insecticides or metal tipped devices around any electrical outlets.

Carpenter Ant Diet

Florida carpenter ants eat a variety of plant and animal foods, as well as sweets. Carpenter Ants also feed on other insects.

Carpenter Ant Habits

Carpenter Ants are nocturnal.

They usually nest outside in moist wood or partially decayed wood.
They prefer to hollow out their nests in softened wood. Their nests are called
"galleries." These galleries are clean and have a sandpaper appearance.

In comparison, termite galleries are rough looking.
Wood that has been damaged by carpenter ants contain no mud-like material, as is the case with termites.

Florida carpenter ants' nests are commonly found in such places as moist, hollow
spaces like the wall void behind dishwashers.
Nests are usually found in areas
where water leakage could occur, such as around bathtubs, sinks, roof leaks,
poorly flashed chimneys, or poorly sealed windows or door frames. Outdoor nest
are found in places like tree stumps, hollow logs, fence posts or dead portions
of standing trees.
However, theses persistent creatures can build nests in
cracks and crevices of sound wood.

They may establish nests in a number of different locations.
It is important to understand than you can have both inside and outside nests.
Carpenter Ants construct two different kinds of nests: parent colonies which,
when mature, contain an egg-laying queen, a brood, 2,000 or more worker ants,
and satellite colonies, which may have large numbers of worker ants, but no
queen, eggs or larvae.
For example, the ones found in your home may have originated from parent nests outdoors,
perhaps in a tree stump, timber or woodpile, or from one or more satellite nests
hidden behind a wall in the kitchen or bathroom, or perhaps from wood dampened
by a roof leak in the attic.
Although large carpenter ant colonies can cause structural damage,
the damage is not normally as serious as termite damage.

Carpenter Ant Inspection

Because Carpenter Ants forage primarily at night, inspections should be made in the evening
or early morning to locate foraging trails and nest sites.

The workers have been known to travel as far as 100 yards from the colony
to search for food and water.

A thorough inspection is important to find all the sites.
Don't conclude your inspection when one colony is found;
several colonies may be present in and around the structure.

Inspect wooden structures associated with high moisture,
where there may be water damage that produces softened wood.

Carpenter Ants prefer frames and sills of windows and doors,
as well as tub enclosure walls, and kitchen and bath plumbing walls.

After sunset is a good time of day to see carpenter ants when their activity increases,
particularly in the spring and summer.

You may want to use a flashlight to observe any obvious
trails and patterns.

To locate their nests' sites, focus on these areas:

* Moisture problems * Wall voids
* Attics (especially under roofing and insulation)
* Flooring or sub flooring
*Hollow doors
*Trash compactors
*Plumbing, pipe chases(kitchen/bath) OUTDOORS
*Stumps/ dead trees
*Landscape timbers
*Woodpiles and fences
*Leaf litter
*Debris piles
*Mulch beds
*Door kick plates
*Roof lines and gutters
*Soffits and vents
*Windows and door frames
*Utility entrances( electric, cable, TV, telephone, gas lines)
*Sheds and doghouses
*Trash containers

FAQ'S and TIPS :Carpenter Ants

1. How long have you noticed the problem?

A long history of activity indicates a colony located in the structure.
In northern regions, activity indoors during colder weather is strong
evidence that a colony is located in the structure.

2.  How many ants do you see?

Seeing many ants frequently indicates an indoor colony.
If you see them only occasionally, they may be
random foragers coming in form the outside.

3. Where are Carpenter Ants seen most often?

This will provide a clue to where
Carpenter Ants are foraging and nesting.

4. Have you seen any small piles that look like sawdust?

Frass piles are usually located close to nest sites

5. Have you had any water leaks or noticed any rotting wood ?
If so where?

Carpenter Ants often nest in moist or rotting wood.
You should inspect these areas first.
Carpenter Ants prefer to nest in moist environments.

6. Conduct inspections in the evening or early morning.

Carpenter Ants are more active at night, so you're more likely to
observe foraging activity and find the nest.

7. Inspect "lines".

Foraging ants like to travel on fence lines,
phone lines, roof lines,railings ,
as well as driveway / sidewalk borders and edges.

8. Knock on wood near suspected nest sites.

Look and listen for activity.
Carpenter ants sound like crinkling cellophane.

9. Check frass piles for materials such as wood,
insulating, plastic, etc.

Frass material will help indicate specific nest locations.

10. Look for plastic vapor barriers under mulch beds.

Ants trail or nest under the plastic film.

11. Follow foraging ants carrying the food particles.

They're heading back to the nest.
Place food in the ants' path, then follow
them back to their nests.

12. Be mindful of weather conditions during the inspections.

They rarely forage if temperatures
are below 55 degrees F.

13. Inspect trees and dead wood.

They tend to nest in tree holes and dead wood
on the ground.

14. Inspect outdoor plants for aphids.

They like to feed on honeydew.

15. Look for tree branches, shrubs and vines
against the buildings.

Branches and vines provide easy access.

How To Detect Carpenter Ant Galleries

Many times you can see what looks like sawdust near their galleries. This sawdust or frass, is shredded fragments of wood that has been ejected from the galleries. This is a good indication that a nest is nearby. But sometimes this evidence is undetectable, but using a screwdriver to probe the wood near a suspicious are may reveal the excavated galleries. Also, you use the blunt end of the screwdriver to tap along baseboards and other wood surfaces, listening for the hollow sound of damaged wood. If a nest is nearby, often the carpenter ants will respond by making a rustling sound within the nest, similar to the sound of crinkling cellophane.


  1. Correct moisture problems, roof leaks, and plumbing leaks.
  2. Cut back tree limbs or branches that could serve as a bridge to your structure.
  3. Seal cracks and openings around the foundation, especially where utility pipes and wires enter from the outside.
  4. Firewood needs to be stacked away from the house, elevated off the ground if possible. They love to nest in firewood.
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