get rid of carpenter ants

Killing Carpenter Ants Naturally (Tips That Actually Work)

Tips On Killing Carpenter Ants Naturally

Have you seen small piles of wood shavings around your home? If so, you may have a case of carpenter ants. Not to worry! In this article, we will help you understand where carpenter ants come from and how to get rid of them naturally. 

Homeowners have a couple of options when it comes to killing carpenter ants naturally.  Here are several options that will help you eliminate them from your home.

  • Baking Soda and Powdered Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Essential Oils  such as Lemongrass, Peppermint, Cedarwood, Orange, Tea Tree,  Clove or Lemon Oil
  • White Vinegar
  • Boric Acid
  • Diatomaceous Earth
  • Boiling Water (For Nests that are Outside)

The second option is to add an essential oil such as lemongrass, peppermint, cedarwood, orange, tea tree, clove or lemon oil to a carrier oil (i.e., olive oil or coconut oil) to a spray bottle and spray the mixture around windowsills, baseboards, countertops and doorframes.

What are carpenter ants? 🐜 

get rid of carpenter antsOut of the 12,000 known species of ants, there is one, in particular, the carpenter ant, which has the ability to single-handedly destroy your home from the inside out. Hopefully, if you are reading this, you have already discovered their presence and you have plenty of time to eradicate them before serious damage is done. However, before you begin, keep in mind that carpenter ants do bite, so take care when taking steps to remove them.

Since carpenter ants are among the largest ants in the United States, one way that you can identify them from other ant types is by their size which is anywhere from 1/2” to 5/8”. Usually black in color, their coloring can vary between yellow, red, black, brown, or red and black. Their diet is similar to other ants consisting of sweet foods and meats.

Since carpenter ants nest inside moist wood, they can be tough to get rid of. Carpenter ants got their name from the way they damage wood. Although they do not consume the wood in the same way as termites, they do chew it and excrete it in order to make pathways for their clan. The excretion that they leave behind is known as “frass.” Carpenter ants are not as damaging to homes as termites, but with enough time, they can develop mature colonies. Their queens can live up to twenty-five years meaning the colony has the ability to cause extensive damage to any wooden structure.

How do I get rid of carpenter ants?

Locating the Nest

Carpenter ants create colonies by sending scout ants to forage through your home to find the best places to hang out. Once they have found a good source of food, the workers build nests in the walls nearby. The first thing to do in order to get rid of carpenter ants is to make a bait to help you find the nest. Nests may be located inside or outside of your home, but if you find that carpenter ants are showing up in late winter or early spring, then they are most likely making nests inside your home. Setting out a little bit of honey or jam can work as the sweetness of the jam will attract an ant allowing you to follow it as it takes it back to the nest. You can also check for frass (small piles of sawdust) as well as damaged wood on or inside of doors, walls, cabinets and wood beams. Also, make sure to check any wood debris or woodpiles for ant colonies. 

Eliminate Ant’s Scent Trails and Repellent Ants

Once you have located the nest, work on eliminating the ants’ scent trails. Since carpenter ants depend on pheromone trails to find sources of food, effectively cleaning these trails will prevent the carpenter ants from picking up the trails.

Use Cinnamon

Carpenter ants hate cinnamon. The cinnamon will block their scent trail that they use to find food and get back to the nest. It also acts as a natural repellent for the ants. They don’t like the strong smell. Cinnamon also leaves your home smelling nice while getting rid of the carpenter ants. For more effective results, you can add some essential oil to the cinnamon powder, so that is busts with stronger smell, keeping the ants away. 

cinnamon for killing antskill carpenter ants naturally

 

 

White Vinegar to Exterminate Carpenter Ants

A great ways to get rid of antis is to mix a solution of 50% white vinegar and 50% water. Pour it into a spray bottle that has  a misting setting. Spray directly on the ants path and  their entry point. You can also spray it on other potential entry points. The ants may want to try another place to get in your house once you’ve sprayed their primary entry point. A stronger mix or even using pure white vinegar can be more effective but the vinegar smell will also be stronger. 

kill ants with white vinegar

kill carpenter ants naturally

Exterminate Carpenter

Baking Soda and Powdered Sugar 

To kill carpenter ants you can create a mixture of baking soda and powdered sugar. Sprinkle this mix near the locations that attract the highest ant traffic. The powdered sugar in the mix naturally attracts the ants while the baking soda naturally kills the ants. You can also use a small dish or  lid to contain the mixture.  Just make sure to place it  in the path of the ants.

baking soda for carpenter ants

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How  to Kill the Carpenter Ants Nest

Boric Acid

After you have located the nest, you will need to get into the wall in order to destroy it. It is recommended to drill 1/8” holes every six inches in the suspected area. Once the holes are ready, you can use a bulb duster to “puff” boric acid through the holes and kills the ants. This treatment may need to be repeated multiple times to completely destroy the nest.

boric acid kills ants
kill carpenter ants naturally

 

Diatomaceous Earth

Another natural way to kill carpenter ants is through the use of Diatomaceous Earth. Diatomaceous Earth is a natural pesticide made from crushed algae fossils. It is an abrasive material that can cause serious damage to the exoskeleton of ants eventually killing them. If you decide to use Diatomaceous Earth to eliminate the carpenter ants, spread it throughout the problem areas and, if possible, directly onto the colony’s nest.

ant killer diatomaceous earthkill carpenter ants naturally 

Boiling Water (Outside Nests)

If the carpenter ants’ nest is outside, there is a natural method of attacking the ant colony directly. This method requires that you boil a few liters of water. Once the water is boiled, carefully pour it directly into the nest. Adding essential oils, soap, or a water-soluble insecticide can also help make the water more effective. Repeat the process a few times to make sure the colony is completely eliminated.

How do I prevent carpenter ants from coming inside my home?

So you may be asking how to keep the ants out in the first place.  The best type of pest control is always prevention. 

Keep Your Home Sealed and Protectedcaulk windows to keep carpenter ants out

Use a sealant such as caulk to seal up all cracks, crevices, and holes that could act as potential entrances for carpenter ants. Weathered and cracked paint can have holes large enough to let ants in to your home. Make sure to paint the exterior of your home when needed. Be mindful of  areas such as foundation, basements, HVAC units, hose bibs, plumbing  and dryer vents. These are areas where ants are often able to find a way into the house.

Keep Your Home Clean

You  should also be sure to discard trash regularly. Ants smell trash and are always looking for food. Do your best to keep your home clean, especially the kitchen, countertops, and flooring. Carpenter ants have no enticement to enter your home without a food source present. Keep all food sealed tightly in closed containers and make sure the areas where the food is stored are free of crumbs and stickiness, wiping down all containers. Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink. 

Keep the Exterior of  Your Home Clean and Free from Debris

Remove any possible nesting places from your yard. Areas such as dry brush, woodpiles, old lumber or dry grass. Try to cut tree limbs and branches to keep them away from your home. Be on the look out for a saw dust like  substance on old wood that’s around the house. This could be a sign of carpenter ants that have already  taken up residence in your yard. Attempt to locate the next and utilize the boiling water method above to terminate the nest.

Another way to prevent carpenter ants from entering the home is by deterring them from their trails. Carpenter ants, like most ants, use pheromone trails to find food, navigate, and communicate with each other. By using essential oils such as lemongrass and tea tree oil, the homeowner is able to disrupt these pheromone trails thereby disorienting and deterring the ants away from the home. After applying the essential oil to a cotton ball or kitchen towel, you can wipe down any potential entry points. Do this daily until the ant population disappears. 

How do carpenter ants get inside my home?

Carpenter ants are attracted to wet wood and moldy wood which is why you may see them after experiencing any kind of water leak or moisture problem in your home. While they do tend to chew through the wood, carpenter ants also have a way of finding tiny cracks or openings even if that means using branches or pipes to climb their way up. Once inside, they tend to set up camp near water sources such as sink, bathroom counters, bathtubs, dishwashers, and hvac units.

When is it time to call a pro to get rid of carpenter ants?

Calling a professional exterminator might be a good idea if the process of getting rid of them yourself sounds like more work than it is worth. Let’s face it, even if you are able to get rid of the carpenter ants’ nest, it is highly likely that there are more carpenter ants somewhere in your home. Asking an ant exterminator to make sure the nest has been destroyed and check for other possible nests, would probably be your best bet to ensure their complete elimination. Also, if you are seeing carpenter ants but have not been able to locate the nest, calling a professional would be beneficial to you.

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Matt McWilliams
matt@mcwilliamsmedia.com

Hi there! My name is Matt and I write for Expert Home Report. I enjoy writing about everything related to home improvement, home tips and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either spending time with my family, doing a DIY project or learning a new skill.