How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

In the forest, these ants help dispose of decaying wood. In your home, they can do serious damage.

Carpenter ants are wood-destroying insects that provide a significant service in nature, but are destructive in residential settings. In the forest they perform an important role by decomposing decaying trees. In homes, though, they can cause considerable destruction to structural timbers, ceilings, and floor areas. They can also be a nuisance by crawling about the house in search of food. They do not sting, but their bites can be painful. Most adult carpenter ants are black or reddish black and ¼-½ inch long. There is usually just one queen per colony.

The damp, decaying wood common after a hurricane or other large storm provides a prime place for carpenter ants to build their nests, whether that wood is part of your house or a damaged tree nearby. Even minor damage like missing shingles or out-of-place gutters can let enough moisture in to start the decay process. Be sure to make any needed post-storm home repairs as soon as you're able to.

How to Prevent and Control Carpenter Ants

Preventing carpenter ants from coming in your house in the first place is first step. An extremely effective way to do that is to create a bug barrier around the perimeter of your home with Ortho® Home Defense Insect Killer for Indoor & Perimeter2 with Comfort Wand®. Apply it around window and door casings and along baseboards. Don't worry—it's odor-free and won't stain, and it dries fast.

Ortho® Home Defense® Insect Killer for Indoor & Perimeter2 with Comfort Wand® will also kill any carpenter ants already in your house that come in contact with it.

For hard-to-reach places like cracks and crevices, apply Ortho® Home Defense® Insect Killer for Cracks & Crevices. The foam will spread deep inside to kill hiding carpenter ants and other listed bugs. As with any product, make sure to read and follow all label directions.

Here are a few things you can do outside to make your house less attractive to carpenter ants:

Eliminate moisture sources. Circumstances that allow wood to become damp and remain in that condition must be corrected. Structural defects and weather-damaged areas should be repaired.

Properly ventilate damp areas. Inspect and clean gutters before the rainy season and seal openings in the foundation, windows, and other access areas into the home.

Properly store firewood. Firewood piles should be elevated above the ground and located as far from the house as is practical. 

Prune your trees and shrubs. Prune bushes and trees away from the home. Because they provide bridges for ants, tree branches and bushes should not touch structures.