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Do-It-Yourself Carpenter Ant Control


What is the best treatment for carpenter ants? Good question.

The truth is that there is no single treatment that is "best" for all carpenter ant infestations. Determining the best treatment for a particular carpenter ant problem begins with answering a few basic questions:

Ideally, the best treatment would be one that delivered a precise dose of just the right insecticide into just the right place; in other words, right smack in the center of the nest. Exterminators often refer to this as "hitting a home run" or "hitting the jackpot," because finding and directly treating the nest makes for both a quick job and an effective one.

Usually, however, finding the actual source of a carpenter ant infestation is more difficult, and treatment requires some guesswork. So the information on this page is necessarily general in nature.

Treating Carpenter Ants Outside your Home

In many cases, the carpenter ants that are seen inside of a house actually are living outside, such as in a tree, utility pole, or woodpile, and are only entering the house to get food. In these cases, treating the home itself usually is unnecessary.

For example, if the carpenter ant nest is in a tree, utility pole, fence post, or other outdoor source, then treating the source with an insecticide labeled for carpenter ants, as well as treating the exterior of the home to provide a "barrier," usually will clear up the problem. (You also should clean up whatever food sources the ants were entering the home to feed upon).

There are dozens of insecticides labeled for carpenter ant control, which come in three main forms:

Treating Carpenter Ants Inside Your Home

Carpenter ant carrying insecticide bait from a bait station.Carpenter ants nesting inside a building almost always mean that there is a moisture problem. In some cases, addressing the moisture problem and vacuuming up the ants will be all that is necessary to clear up the infestation.

If you can see where the ants are traveling, then consider using a liquid or granular ant bait. Placing carpenter ant baits directly along the ants' travel paths, as close as possible to the nest (for example, at the spot right where you see them disappearing into a wall), is often effective at controlling inaccessible carpenter ant infestations inside homes.

Professional exterminators often attempt to track down the exact location of a carpenter ant nest (usually in a wall void or other structural void), drill a hole into it, and puff a few puffs of a dust insecticide like Drione or Delta into the void through the hole to wipe out the whole colony en masse. In addition, many exterminators routinely drill and dust void areas around kitchen and bathroom pipe chases because these are common hot spots for carpenter ants.

Drilling and dusting is very effective, but can be hazardous. Insecticide dusts can travel great distances inside a wall void, and unless the person applying the dust is an expert, the dust can penetrate to heating and cooling ducts and be circulated throughout the home.

So if you need further interior treatment beyond that which can be accomplished using carpenter ant baits, we advise you to call a professional pest control operator. If you do decide to use dusts yourself, use extreme caution and follow all label instructions.