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CARPENTER ANTS (Featured pages )

       Identification and life cycle                            Common questions and answers
       Getting rid of Carpenter Ants                        Digital microscope photos 
       Ant Nest Photos

Getting Rid of Carpenter Ants

First a word of caution.

Many pest control professionals consider Carpenter ants the most difficult pest there is to deal with in the industry. With all the training and experience they have, there are some homes that take considerable time and a number  of treatments to completely  eradicate these destructive insects.  Many homeowners will call in a professional after they have failed to solve the problem themselves.  This situation is usually more difficult to deal with because the homeowner randomly sprayed pesticides killing the obvious evidence and scattering the satellite nests.  Of course this increases the cost. If you are not prepared to spend hours in your attic  and crawl space wearing a respirator, rubber gloves, coveralls and a hat, then you may be wise to call a professional to do the job properly.

You can read the advice from a Canadian Government web site if you are determined to deal with carpenter ants yourself.

The process:

  1. Find all of the Satellite nests in the home. (Read about nests on the identification and life cycle page)

  2. Try to locate the "mother" nests and the queens.

  3. Eliminate conditions that made the home a suitable habitat for the ants.

  4. Treat the satellite nests with a suitable pest control method or product.


  1. Don't spray pesticides on ants outside the nests. Use a vacuum cleaner inside your home. 

  2. Don't use "ant drops, ant poisons, ant traps".  Save your money for something worthwhile. 

  3. Don't squash foraging ants.  Follow them.

  4. Don't rip apart walls or ceilings to find the nests. 

How to:

    How to find the satellite nests:

         At the bottom of this page are links to educational institute web sites, each of them displaying some very interesting guidelines and theories about finding carpenter ant nests.  Some of the suggestions are excellent. Some may not  seem practical to an experienced pest control professional.  If you want to strictly follow the advice of the academic community, we suggest you read the information presented by Dr. Lauren HansenPh.D. of Spokane Falls Community College.  Dr. Hansen is probably the most highly respected source of knowledge about carpenter ants among entomologists and  pest control professionals around the world.  She has made a habit of putting on the coveralls, respirator and rubber gloves to go down into dirty crawl spaces and apply her knowledge about dealing with these pests. Dr. Hansen has hands on experience, not just theories.


Washington State UniversityWSU Department of Entomology

Photo of Dr. Laurel Hansen

Laurel D. Hansen
Adjunct Faculty
Instructor in Biology
Spokane Falls Community College
3410 W. Fort George Wright Dr.
Spokane, WA 99224-5288


Areas of Interest:

I teach liberal arts transfer courses in biology and zoology at SFCC, plus workshops in pesticide education for recertification credits and insect classes for K-12 teachers for continuing hours. In addition, I teach a summer workshop at EWU for K-12 teachers to use insects in teaching science.

Research interests include carpenter ant biology and management strategies. Activities concentrate on baits for carpenter ants plus efficacy tests for perimeter sprays and dust formulations. Laboratory research takes place at SFCC and field work includes areas in the Spokane, Puget Sound, and Portland.


Hansen, L.D., W.J. Spangenberg, and M.M. Gaver. 1999. The infrabuccal chamber of Camponotus modoc (Hymenoptera:Formicidae): Ingestion, digestion, and survey of bacteria. p. 211-219. In Robinson, W.H., F. Rettich, and G.W. Rambo (Eds.). Proc. 3rd Internatl. Conf. Pests. 679 p.

Hansen, L.D. 1999. 1999 tests for efficacy and residual activity of TempoWP in wall voids in carpenter ant control–continuation of tests initiated in 1997. Pest Intelligencer, Newsletter Wash. State Pest Control Assoc. 11(4): 16-17.

Hansen, L.D. and J.H. Klotz. 1999. The name game can wreak havoc on ant control methods. Pest Control 67(6): 66, 68.

Hansen, L.D. 2000. Successful bait development is more than a matter of taste. Pest Control 68(5): 52, 54, 58.

Hansen, L.D. 2001. Carpenter ant infestations. PCT, Service Technician. In Press


        Finding carpenter ant nests requires a lot of time an patience.  With years of experience, a professional will know where these nests are likely to be and will look for evidence of frass, the junk thrown out of nests.  This is often caught up in spider webs in attics, crawl spaces, basements under decks and around the exterior perimeter under the soffits  and below the siding.  Sometimes sawdust excavated by the ants from the structure will be noticeable, but not always.  
        Following ants outside the nest is the best indication of it's location, but ants will often follow channels hidden from the hot sun,  rain and your vision.   Less than 10 % of the population will ever leave the nests so at times there are very few to follow.  Knowing whether the ant you are following is heading for food, or has already eaten and is heading back to the nest is an indicator that some very experienced professionals are capable of seeing.  
        Listen for them.  If your hearing is good and the home is very quiet  you may be able to hear the rustling and chewing noise they make.  A medical stethoscope is useful but the sound of a refrigerator or even a clock can confuse the inexperienced ear. 



How to find the main nests  (and the queens):

        In some locations it would be impossible to find all the main nests among the  trees, logs, stumps, buried wood and roots.  Even if these nests are found,  removing them can be a monumental task.  All satellite nests remain in contact with the main nest.  Workers can be seen carrying mature larvae from the overcrowded queen's home to new or established satellites of the colony.  If you find the main nest, try to remove it physically.  If you put toxic products into it, they may leach into the ground water and contaminate water supplies or fish habitat some distance away.
        If you can not remove the nest,  try to eliminate any favorable conditions that encourage them to move toward the home. Tree branches, fences, garden hoses,  structural wood touching the soil, landscape ties and utility wires all provide an easy route to follow.    A very fine dusting of diatomaceous earth around the perimeter base of the home will discourage all insects from crossing it to gain entry.   This is short term and should be repeated frequently in the spring, summer and fall.

Pesticides, Poisons and Secret Formulas.

Toxic Sprays: Most pesticides available to the public will kill any insect that they come in contact with  while  still wet.  Once dry, the residual effect is minimal and has very little effect on insects.
Ant Dusts: Diatomaceous earth is sold in a variety of containers with convincing trade names. The basic product can also be purchased in much less expensive plain plastic bags at most garden stores. 
Toxic chlorpyrifos is now off the market and illegal to use in Canada and U.S.A.
Boric Acid dust: It is very difficult to inject into a nesting cavity without proper equipment. Do not put it in exposed areas. 
Ant Poisons sold over the counter at most hardware stores have little if any effect on carpenter ants 
Ant Traps are actually not traps.  The little tin cans with holes in the side contain  borax.  They have no effect on carpenter ants. 
Secret Formulas:  If you find one that works, patent it immediately.  Scientists around the world have been searching for years for ingredients that will attract and kill or repel  carpenter ants. Some things that homeowners have tried include cinnamon, cayenne pepper, moth balls, boric acid and icing sugar.
None of them have been proven effective. 

Boric acid is probably more toxic to humans than many other registered pesticides. Take a look at the Merk Index for boric acid and you'll find human toxicity symptoms include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, circulatory collapse, tachycardia, cyanosis, delirium, convulsions, and coma. Death has occurred from <5 grams (the weight of a nickel) in infants and from 5 to 20 g in adults. The lesson is to treat all chemicals with respect and don't believe just because a compound is organic or natural it is safer than a registered and thoroughly tested substance. In fact it may be just the opposite.

CARPENTER ANTS (Featured pages )

       Identification and life cycle         
       Common questions and answers
       Getting rid of Carpenter Ants     
       Digital microscope photos 
       Ant Nest Photos


Effective Control ofHealth Canada | Santé Canada
Carpenter Ants
Pest Management Regulatory Agency | L'Agence de réglementation de la lutte antiparasitaire

Control Measures

Correction of conditions conducive to carpenter ant infestation should be the first step. This includes clearing away any decaying or infested wood from around buildings and removing firewood from inside the premises and away from the sides of buildings. If possible, decaying or infested structural wood should be replaced with sound material. Humidity problems in the home should be investigated and corrected. Removal of potential food sources will discourage ants from entering buildings. This can be accomplished by keeping food in sealed containers and by implementing good sanitary practices such as regularly sweeping up all crumbs and other food fragments.

Chemical control methods have two major goals: elimination of existing nests and prevention of further pest entrance. Chemical control is most effective when used in conjunction with the above methods of physical control. It should be noted, however, that once a colony is well established, it is usually necessary to locate and treat the actual nest site to achieve permanent or long-term control. In difficult instances, this job may best be left to a professional exterminator.

This webpage has been published by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency
to provide homeowners and consumers with a relevant and useful resource regarding
household pest management. It is intended as an informational guide only.


Links to other selected Carpenter Ant information

CAUTION! Pesticide recommendations on these web pages are registered for use in some states of USA ONLY! The use of some products may not be legal in Canada. Please check with your local  regulatory official before using any pesticide mentioned.
Non pesticide products may or may not have been proven effective.
We do not endorse any of the content on these linked web sites. 
They are for information purposes only.
Carpenter Ants: Their Biology and Control.
Information which has been published by
Dr. Laurel Hansen
, Ph.D. of Spokane 
Falls Community College.  Dr. Hansen conducted her research on carpenter ant biology and behavior under the guidance of Dr. Roger Akre, at the Department of Entomology of Washington State University.

2 good photographs and some good line art showing carpenter
ant life cycle. Oregon State University

by Mike Potter, Extension Entomologist
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture


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Featured Pages

Identification & Life cycle of Carpenter Ants


Ant Nest Photos

Digital microscope 
carpenter  ant photos.


Getting rid of Carpenter ants

Common Questions 
and answers about 
carpenter ants.












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Carpenter Ant




QPM proposes to exterminate Carpenter ants via bait method like most other species of Ants. The worker ants not only feed themselves but also carry the bait to the Ants in the colony. Bait method is not intrusive and does not require client to leave. Also it poses no danger to the residents. Hence, the quality and flow of life is not impacted by such bait extermination service.

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            Disclaimer:  This web page was compiled by a pest management professional, not an entomologist. 
As a result, some of the terms used may not be accurate according to scientific terms of reference.
Our objective is to provide basic and interesting information for the average homeowner. 

All photos and material on this page are the exclusive property of P.C.S. Gulf Islands. 
                                   Copyright protected 2010© All rights reserved.

Use of this material for any purpose is prohibited without the written permission of P.C.S. Gulf Islands. 
We welcome enquiries from students and teachers. 


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