How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

Have you ever heard an unsettling light scratching sound inside your walls? While a few pests can cause this unpleasant noise, did you know that an ant can actually be making such a ruckus? Carpenter ants create tunnel systems in wood, which can eventually lead to structural damage in homes.

If you’re wondering how to get rid of carpenter ants, the best thing to do is call the professionals at Joshua’s Pest Control for help. In addition to getting help from the experts, there are a few things you can do to make sure you’ve properly identified these pests.


Carpenter ants are from the genus Camponotus. A common species in the United States is the Camponotus ligniperda, which is among the largest ant species, measuring about ½ inch in length. This is one of the easiest ways to distinguish carpenter ants from other ants you may find inside. Typical house ants show up in large numbers out in the open, while carpenter ants usually stay within their nests and only emerge on occasion to collect food and water or to mate. 

Carpenter ants are usually black but can include red and brown in their coloring as well. They have six legs, three body segments, and two long bent antennae. Reproductive adults have wings (allowing them to leave the nest and search for a mate).


At the beginning of a carpenter ant’s life cycle, one queen lays eggs until enough larvae and pupae become worker ants. These worker ants begin constructing tunnels to find food for the queen and her young. At capacity, a carpenter ant colony usually consists of 10,000–20,000 worker ants. This large base colony can then branch off into several satellite colonies, each with its own queen. 

You may come across winged carpenter ants as well—these are reproductive carpenter ants who have left their nests to mate. Males die after mating, and new queens shed their wings once they’ve found a suitable home.

Carpenter ants are social insects that follow cues from pheromones released by the queen. To ensure survival of the species and favorable genes, a carpenter ant may put a colony member’s well-being above its own. Also, carpenter ants that don’t reproduce may use their energy to support those who will.


Surprisingly, carpenter ants do not eat wood. In their natural habitat, carpenter ants drink water and mainly feed on dead insects. They also thrive on a substance secreted by aphids called honeydew.

When carpenter ants nest indoors, they seek out easily accessible sources of protein and sugar. They may find meat scraps, pet food, and sweet substances like honey and jelly. They ingest these foods and then regurgitate them for the queen and her larvae.


Carpenter ants live in moist, forested areas. Typically, carpenter ants prefer to excavate moist or decaying wood, which is why they are more often found outside in trees and stumps. They prefer warmer weather (like most insects), so you may find more of these pests in moderate climates. 

When carpenter ants venture indoors, they usually stick to areas prone to moisture like door and window frames. Colonies can remain active year-round indoors if conditions are warm enough and if food and water sources continue to be stable. 

Because carpenter ants dig through wood, they often leave behind sawdust-like debris. You may see a pile of tiny wood shavings next to a carpenter ant nest in the wild or in your home.


Carpenter ants can cause damage to the wood in your home if left unchecked. These insects can spread in any direction and create tunnels all throughout the framing in your home, especially around damp areas. Because carpenter ant tunnels are small in diameter and well-organized, it can take years for structural damage to occur, but these pests may weaken the wood considerably. 


One of the main reasons people find carpenter ants indoors is simply due to proximity to forested areas. If you have tree limbs hanging over your roof or tree stumps in the backyard, carpenter ants are more likely to find their way inside. The closer your house is to trees that receive regular moisture, the more likely you are to see carpenter ants. Carpenter ants may also be drawn inside by leaks in the home that are creating moisture around wood.

If you tend to leave food sources out like pet food and sweet syrups, carpenter ants will also be attracted to these items in your home.

Another reason you might have carpenter ants in your home is due to water leaks and water damage. If you have unsealed tile on your shower floor or a leaky pipe, that water can reach the wood in your home and make an ideal environment for carpenter ants. 


Carpenter ants and termites are often confused because both cause damage to the wood in your home. However, the treatment for these two pests is very different, so it’s important to determine which one you’re dealing with. If you hear telltale scratching sounds inside your walls, there are a few ways to determine if you’re dealing with carpenter ants or termites. 

  • Slight difference in sound. Termites make noise because they are eating wood, so they may sound more like clicking or crunching. Carpenter ants make noise because they are digging into wood, so it usually sounds more like scratching. 
  • Leaving the nest. You probably won’t see any termites out of their nest and in your home unless you tear into your walls to investigate. Carpenter ants, on the other hand, may show up crawling around the house looking for food sources. 
  • Physical appearance. Most termites have white to cream coloring, only two body segments, and look almost like maggots with heads. However, some species of termites may be a darker brown color. Carpenter ants are larger than termites, are dark brown or black in color, and have three body segments and long antennae. 
  • Infestation appearance. Lastly, the appearance of the infestation will look different for carpenter ants and termites. Once you break open a section of wall in your home, you should be able to tell the difference. Termites tend to eat in a disorganized path, leaving rough chunks taken out of wood. This can sometimes look like rot or decay. Carpenter ants excavate in smooth, orderly tunnels. They also leave behind tiny wood shavings.

Make sure you know which pest you’re dealing with before moving forward with any treatment plans. In some areas, phony termite detection scams are common. An individual may pose as a pest control expert, “confirm” the presence of termites, and then charge exorbitant fees for fumigation. This is especially common when buying or selling a home and dealing with home inspection reports. 

With Joshua’s Pest Control, you can rest easy knowing our licensed professionals are trained to know the difference between carpenter ants and termites and that we follow all official state protocols for treatment. We work with you every step of the way to help tackle your pest problems. 


If you’re wondering how to get rid of carpenter ants permanently, you’ll need to call in the professionals. Our field experts are well-versed in these pests, and the safety of your home is always our top priority. We’ll deal with eradicating the carpenter ants and recommend measures to prevent these pests from coming back.


For getting rid of carpenter ants, our field experts use a combination of products and strategies. The first thing we consider is where the source of these pests originated. Once we’ve found a likely entry point, we use barrier treatments along the perimeter of your home—as well as in eaves, windows, and doorways—to keep carpenter ants out. 

We also have products that can be inserted into the site of infestation to ensure carpenter ants won’t be able to do any further damage. To find out more about our process, contact an expert at Joshua’s Pest Control today. 


After getting help from our friendly experts, there are a few things you can do to make sure carpenter ants don’t come back. Here are our top tips for carpenter ant prevention:

  • Schedule regular seasonal pest control visits. The best way to keep your home free of carpenter ants and other pests is to make sure your pest control provider provides year-round seasonal maintenance. As temperatures change throughout the year, different pests make themselves known, which is why it’s important to keep a pulse on pest activity. Carpenter ants usually emerge in the spring, so it always helps to revisit barrier treatments before the weather changes. 
  • Keep all food in tightly sealed containers. Keeping food secured in proper containers is a big help in preventing carpenter ants. Use lidded, air-tight containers for both your food as well as your pet’s food. Empty garbage cans regularly and don’t allow crumbs and spills to pile up.
  • Trim trees and shrubbery. Trimming trees and shrubbery around your home is another great way to prevent carpenter ants. Maintain a distance of at least 12-18″ between the exterior of your home and plants and mulch. 
  • Remove tree stumps from your yard. Be sure to remove stumps from your yard soon after any tree removal. As the wood rots, it creates ideal conditions to attract carpenter ants. 
  • Store firewood properly. Another hot spot for carpenter ants is firewood piles. Store your firewood away from the barrier of your home, preferably in an area where it won’t get wet. If your firewood is exposed to rain and moisture, you’re more likely to have a carpenter ant problem.
  • Repair water leaks. Always repair water leaks in your home as soon as possible to prevent carpenter ants (as well as other pests). A dripping pipe under your bathroom or kitchen sink can create an ideal environment for carpenter ants.
  • Caulk and seal bathrooms. Make sure your bathrooms are properly caulked and sealed to keep moisture contained. You may need to re-caulk your bathtub or shower if the seal is old or broken. Depending on the age and construction of your home, you might also need to invest in some grout sealant for the tile in your bathroom. You can use a moisture reader to determine where you have leaks or faulty caulking.

It’s important to get rid of carpenter ants as soon as you suspect you may have an infestation. As these large black worker ants damage wood through their excavations, the structure of your home weakens and significant damage can occur if left unchecked. Call us today for professional help with all of your pest problems, including carpenter ants. Our friendly field experts are standing by, ready to assist you with the best products and an individualized plan for your home. 


Author Bio

Courtney Enzor has worked in the pest control industry for about a decade. From helping you build a fly trap to giving you the best tips for identifying various bugs, she loves answering all your pest-related questions and sharing her pest-related expertise through writing. At the end of the day, she hopes her content will help people avoid mishaps and keep families happy and healthy!