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DIY Home Methods to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

Updated on: May 8, 2023

Finding and killing a few carpenter ants in your home won't solve an infestation problem, Carpenter ants live in colonies, so the important thing is to locate the nest so that the colony can be destroyed. Let's review how to exterminate a carpenter ant colony successfully. 

Finding the Nest

When carpenter ants invade your home, tracking their movements is essential. These ants leave behind scent trails as they move, enabling other ants to locate and travel to food sources. Tracing their path back to baseboards, cabinets, doors, or any wooden structures requires patience. You might even need to follow them outdoors if they have established nests in tree stumps or dead trees.

However, spotting actual ants in action is not guaranteed. In such instances, it may be necessary to entice them with sweet bait, such as diluted honey or sugar milk. By setting out the bait at night, when carpenter ants are most active so you can increase your chances of attracting them. 

Here are some methods to help you locate a carpenter ant nest:

Visual Inspection:

  1. Conduct a thorough visual inspection of your home, both indoors and outdoors.
  2. Look for signs of carpenter ant activity such as ant trails, frass (sawdust-like debris), or winged ants near windows or light sources.
  3. Follow the ant trails to track their movement and identify potential nesting areas.

Listening for Sounds: Carpenter ants can sometimes create rustling or tapping sounds when they are active within their nest. Use a stethoscope or your ear to listen closely to walls, ceilings, and wooden structures suspected of harboring nests. Pay attention to any faint noises that may indicate ant activity.

Tap Testing: Tap on suspected wooden structures or areas where you suspect nests to be located. Hollow or papery sounds rather than solid ones can indicate the presence of a nest.

Killing the Ants

Once you've located the carpenter ant nest, you have several options for extermination.


The primary approach is to employ an insecticide containing pyrethroids as the go-to solution. The key lies in effectively delivering the insecticidal spray or dust into the nest. It is crucial to avoid spraying liquids near electrical outlets or junction boxes, but insecticidal dust can be applied in those specific areas.

Spraying into existing crevices is an option, but additional holes might be necessary to access the colony within walls or hollow doors. It is essential to adhere carefully to the instructions provided on the pesticide packaging when using such products. Moreover, it's important to note that targeting individual worker ants with pesticides will have minimal impact on resolving the issue.

Alternatively, boric acid dust is another effective method for eliminating carpenter ants upon contact, and it offers the advantage of being safer and easier to apply in small spaces. You should be able to find boric acid dust at most hardware stores, typically accompanied by an applicator for conveniently dispersing the dust into holes or crevices.


An alternative option is ant baiting, although it requires more time to take effect. The process involves placing poisoned bait along the paths that the ants typically traverse, allowing them to collect the bait and transport it back to their nest. It is important to note that specific baits designed for carpenter ants should be used, as generic ant baits may not yield the desired results. However, ants can be selective, and if they disregard a particular type of bait, it may be necessary to experiment with an alternative option.


Desiccants are effective products that eliminate insects by disrupting their external protective layer, leading to dehydration. Silica gel is a desiccant that licensed exterminators can only apply. However, diatomaceous earth is a commonly available desiccant that anyone can purchase. It is non-toxic to humans and animals, but caution must be exercised to avoid inhaling the fine dust, as it can cause harm to the lungs. The application method for diatomaceous earth is similar to that of insecticidal dust, allowing you to administer it into nests for optimal results.

Natural Solutions

Diatomaceous earth and boric acid are both effective methods to combat ants without using pesticides. When searching online, you may come across claims that various essential oils or household products can "repel" carpenter ants. However, even if these claims hold some truth, using repellents during an infestation is not advisable as the ants may simply relocate within your home or property, potentially to harder-to-treat areas. It is essential to focus on eliminating the ant colony within your home before considering methods of repelling ants. 

When to Call in the Pros

Removing carpenter ants by oneself can be challenging due to their ability to establish nests deep within your home's structural framework. If your attempts with do-it-yourself methods have proven ineffective, it is advisable to contact a professional exterminator.

A reputable pest control company possesses superior equipment and specialized pesticidal products that surpass those typically available to homeowners. Their expertise enables them to locate concealed nests while minimizing potential structural damage to your home.


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