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Everything You Need to Know About Carpenter Ant Bait

Updated on: May 15, 2021

When you see wood shavings randomly in your home, you may have an ant problem. There are thousands of ant species and not all are seriously destructive. But what if the harmful variety such as carpenter ant gets into your home? Carpenter ants can live up to 25 years, and produce millions of offspring. They are capable of creating multiple hidden satellite colonies, with each colony containing up to 50,000 ant workers. These crazy ants hollow out the wood in order to build a nest within, which leads to structural damage. Carpenter ant infestations usually go unnoticed until the problem already becomes costly to solve.

These ants are known for destroying wooden structures and they are difficult to kill with bug spray alone. This is why you need to use carpenter ant bait to eliminate them. In order to wipe them out, you don't just go after the ants themselves; you have to take carpenter ant treatment to their nests. This is the most effective way to drive them out of your home and this takes creating carpenter ant baits.

Why It's Necessary to Use Bait for Carpenter Ants

Unlike most insects, carpenter ants don't die with just a spray of pesticide. When an insect dies, your problem ends there since there's no need to find the insect's parent nest and go after its mates or its offspring. When it comes to carpenter ants, you need to do more than just killing those wandering around your house. You can spray all the individual worker foraging ants but as long as their queen lives and survives in the nest, the population will still live on and the problem will continue indefinitely.

By using carpenter ant bait, you can lure the worker ant and let them take the poison to their nests. The worker ants will form a pheromone trail that will lead the other ants to the bait. This leads to lines of ants moving from the bait and taking the poison with them to the nest. The poison will be eaten by the queen, which will eventually kill her. When she dies, the reproduction of worker ants will stop and the carpenter ant colony will die off, which leaves your house ant-free.

All you have to do is to follow the trail of ants from your bait to its source to find where the ants are nesting within your home. This allows you to make repairs in the area to fix or prevent structural damage in your house. You can also block off several of the entrances to their nests to get a jumpstart on killing the colonies. Once you confirm that the queen has eaten the poisoned bait, you can fill in the last entryway and thus end their cycle.

The Five Types of Carpenter Ant Baits

If you're planning to use carpenter ant baits, you can choose between the following: spray-on foam, granular bait pellets, liquid bait, bait traps, and home-brewed baits. Each of these baits has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

  • Spray-on foam - this is the easiest ant killer to use because you just simply spray the solution to any surface where you see carpenter ants. The ants will consume the spray and take it to their nests, where they will die. The downside is that these spray-ons are very messy to use and can be dangerous to your pets.
  • Granular bait pellets - these pellets are usually expensive, but at least they are easier to use too since you just sprinkle the pieces around the carpenter ant hotspots. The aim is for the ants to take the pellets home and feed them to their queen, which will cause her death a few days after.
  • Liquid baits - these are best used for enclosed, hard-to-reach areas. This can be hit-or-miss in terms of effectiveness since the ants can't feed the liquid to the other ants most of the time.
  • Bait traps - these work similarly to granular bait pellets. They are small plastic enclosures that hold highly poisonous bait, which the worker ants will take and bring home to their nests.
  • Home-brewed baits - these can be a combination of the ones above and created according to your baiting needs. This is your non-toxic or non-poisonous option, but it may not work as fast in attracting ants and may not lure those from a wide area.

How to Kill Carpenter Ants Once You've Attracted Them With Carpenter Ant Bait

Ants on the roof

Using bait to attract the ants is a simple process. You just lay the bait or the traps around the floorboards and other areas in your home where ants are frequenting. Carpenter bait traps usually have small holes that only the ants can go through. This prevents other insects from going to the bait and getting poisoned. Basically, you just wait and let the ants eat the bait so they can die eventually. In some cases, you need to get to know the nuances of killing carpenter ants with the help of baits.

Here is How to Kill Ants Using Natural Ant Bait and Other Non-toxic Methods.

What Kills Carpenter Ants

The poisons used on carpenter ants don't kill these insects immediately. These solutions contain substances such as fipronil, which disrupts the nervous system of both ants and larvae and makes them die after five days. Abamectin is another ingredient with a similar effect and kills the ants after roughly two days.

It's important to note that these poisons are harmful to aquatic life and pollinators like honey bees. They can be killed by pesticides made for eliminating carpenter ants. This is why you should take care to confine the poisons within the bait so that you will kill only carpenter ants and keep the rest of the local wildlife safe.

Carpenter ants can also die from consuming too much of a material they can't digest properly. This prevents them from consuming the nutrients they need and will make them starve to death later on. This method is not as effective as using poisoned bait, but this is the perfect alternative if you're looking for an environmentally friendly and possibly cheaper way of killing carpenter ants.

What Makes a Carpenter Bait Effective?

The best carpenter ant baits make use of a combination of a healthy dose of poison and chemicals that mimic these ants' pheromones. Carpenter ants find these chemicals palatable and will lure them to go near the trap and smell the bait. When they smell the "pheromones," they will think that the food within the trap was already tried by a fellow carpenter ant. This will speed up the process of harvesting the poisoned bait within the trap.

Because the bait from the trap contains chemicals that the carpenter ants like to eat, they will be encouraged to take as much of the food to carry home. Once the food is in the nest, the other worker ants will feed the poisoned bait to their queen, which will effectively kill her.

Another factor that makes bait effective is the time-delay mechanism in its toxins, which is only harmful to the ants who will consume it. Most ants will feel the effect of the poison after a day or two and they will likely stop visiting the location of the bait within 24 hours of getting into contact with it. The ants will die right there on the baited trap or in their nest, so watch out for dead ants lying around.

Does Borax Work on Carpenter Ants?

Borax is a chemical composed of sodium borate. Ants consider this as food even though they can't digest it. Borax can be used to make a highly palatable and chemical bait combination. In order to create this effective ant bait, make a solution using 1 part powdered borax, 1 part warm water, and 2 parts sugar or honey. 

Mix all these until completely dissolved and then pour into a small dish. Make sure that the dish is shaped in a way that ants can easily climb in and out of it. Now put this bowl along a trail where you expect carpenter ants to appear. Using more aromatic honey will help since this will make it easier to lure the ants into your bait.

As the ants feed on lots of honey, they will consume the borax mixture with it and then take the mixture home to their nest for their queen and larvae to feed on. Now the borax bait will do its work inside the ants' digestive tract and block the narrow passageways. When the ants try to eat food again, they won't be able to consume nutrients because of the blockage. This will make the ants starve to death.

This makes boric acid a cheap carpenter ant killer that is easy to utilize and not harmful to the environment. However, it will take a long time to kill the ants since the process of them dying from borax is slow. Also, this will make the ants die all over your home rather than in a single location, which is the effect of other baits.

Locating Carpenter Ant Nest

Ants nest in the dirt

Using bait means deciding where to place them so this is why you must locate the nest first. One of the best indicators is sawdust, which is created when ants dig out of their tunnels. If you're lucky, the location will allow you to remove the ants from the nest using a vacuum cleaner. But a mature nest will likely have satellite nests nearby so you must find them too and destroy them.

How to Apply Ant Bait Effectively

Whatever kind of bait that you decide to use, its effectiveness will highly depend on how the quality of its application. Keep the following tips in mind when applying your advance carpenter ant bait:

  • The best location to place the baits is along the trails that the ants use when they're looking for food. Bait every trail that you find if you're unsure if multiple trails belong to the same colony.
  • Keep putting bait on the location after the ants have consumed what you placed. Check this everyday and only stop re-baiting when the ants are truly gone.
  • Switch to a different type of bait if the ants didn't take what you used. If you want a surer thing, you can change to a sweet-based bait from a protein or grease-based variety and vice-versa.
  • It will take some time for an entire colony to get wiped out so be patient in waiting for results.
  • Use only non-repellent insecticides on or near baits.
  • Bait around the base of a mound, not on top of it. Some of the worker ants may not find bait placed on top.
  • Make sure to remove other food sources that may distract the ants from taking your bait. Steer clear of pet feeding dishes, chicken houses, dumpsters, and trash cans. You should also look out for aphids and scale insects producing honeydew on nearby vegetation since this can compete for the ants' attention.
  • Always use fresh bait. Remember that commercial bait needs to be used within 6 months to 1 year after opening. Once a bait becomes stale, it will become ineffective to ants.
  • Use baits on dry surfaces only. Ants will find your baits less desirable if placed on wet surfaces such as grass with dew.

Here is Everything You Need To Know About Carpenter Ants, Homemade Ant Baits, and Repellents.

When to Call a Professional For Carpenter Ant Control

Permakill staff

Maybe you have tried everything you can, from diatomaceous earth and liquid ant bait trap to bait station and insecticide. But nothing worked, for some reason. If your carpenter ant infestation is already beyond your capabilities and your baiting techniques didn't work, it's time to let a professional pest management company do the job. 

This is the best choice especially if the ant nests are difficult to find. A pest control company will thoroughly inspect your home to find the nests and decide on the best course for elimination for your ant problem.

If you're in New Jersey and looking for a pest control company you can trust, get in touch with PermaKill Exterminating and get a free estimate for your carpenter ant problem. No matter what kind of ant involved (pharaoh ant, Florida carpenter ant, fire ants), PermaKill has a solution for it. They also handle other types of pests, including drywood termites, subterranean termites, and silverfish.

PermaKill Exterminating is a family-owned pest management company that believes in treating people like people, not pests. Call PermaKill Exterminating now and make your home pest-free once and for all.


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