RSS Feed
Email this article
Printer friendly page

Ask Rick A Question

Signs of Carpenter Ants

Summary: The signs of carpenter ants include damaged wood, noises coming from inside your walls and finding foraging ants in your kitchen at night.

Have carpenter ants infested your home and you are wondering if they can cause any damage to it? The answer is yes, they can cause extensive damage. Carpenter ants love wood, but they especially love damp wood. So, if you have recently had any leaks or water damage in your house, check for signs of the ants in the damaged areas. It may not be instantly obvious to you if carpenter ants have invaded your home because they could be deep in the wood.

Mating season for carpenter ants is in early spring. They will be most prevalent in and around your home during this time. They are most active at night, so


what for them in kitchens and bathrooms where water is readily available. Look for them in walls and wooden doors that have small holes or gaps. One trick to find out if there are carpenter ants in any hollow wood in your home is to tap the handle of a screwdriver against the surface. If there are carpenter ants behind the wood, they will make a sound that can be heard by the human ear. Be aware that the ants may be searching for food inside your home, but may live in wooden areas outside your home.

If you think you have carpenter ants taking a vacation in your home, observe them closely. They often are present when termites are most active, as well. Look for some distinguishing characteristics. For example, carpenter ants have pinched waists while termites have straight waists. Carpenter ants have elbowed antennae that termites lack. Carpenter ants are quite large compared to other types of ants, measuring up to ½ of an inch in length, with the queen carpenter ant growing even longer. Also, the wood on the carpenter ants' nests tends to be smooth, whereas termites' nests consist of rough wood.

Contrary to popular belief, carpenter ants do not eat wood. They only nest in

Damaged wood

it. So, even though they don't eat wood like termites, it is a bad idea to ignore a carpenter ant infestation. If you do not take action, carpenter ants will begin reproducing at a very rapid rate. A carpenter ant colony can consist of a few thousand carpenter ants. Having an entire colony of carpenter ants can decrease the value of your home.

Carpenter ants like to eat syrup, jelly, honeydew, and other insects. They even eat termites! However, I do not recommend planting termites in your home as prey for carpenter ants!

Tips to Avoid Carpenter Ant Infestation:

  • Never put firewood against the siding of your house. It is an invitation for carpenter ants and other pests to find a way in! Keep firewood as far from your house as possible. Also, elevate it off the ground for extra precaution on a well made firewood rack.
  • Cut down any branches or tree limbs that are touching your home.
  • Seal any holes or crevices in the foundation or doors of your home.

Once you identify where the carpenter ants' nests are, drill small holes into the wood. Take boric acid and dispense it into the wood. This will spread throughout the hollow area where the ants are nesting and kill them. If the ants are living behind a wall, apply the boric acid at least three feet on either side of the suspected nest area. If there are wires or electrical cords, be sure not to use a metal tipped duster or you may get a 110 volt message.

Ask Rick A Question


Teri Smith
21 Mar 2011, 21:28
Recently I have noticed large black ants around my kitchen counter and hovering around the garbage can. There were a few in my cabinets, but now they are gone and only around the garbage can. There are probably 10 a day. Are these carpenter ants and how can I get rid of them?
Ask the Exterminator
22 Mar 2011, 08:09
They are probably carpenter ants, but why guess? Just collect a couple and take them to a local pest control company for a free ID. There are lots of articles about carpenter ant control on this website. Click on "carpenter ants" on the left side of any page.
02 Jun 2011, 13:58
I have been noticing a few large black ants in my house the past couple of days. they appeared last year too, around the same time. Not alot, just a few here and there. I've been sprinkling cinnomin around the floors. It seemed to work last year. What do you think of thisremedy, and why just a few ants, and why the same time each year??
Ask the Exterminator
03 Jun 2011, 07:01
The presence of carpenter ants indicates a moiture problem. The ants tunnel into soft wood to set up their colony. The application of cinnamon will repel the ants, but won't kill the colony. You need to put out carpenter ant bait to help resolve the problem. And, you need to find and fix the moisture problem.
Robert F. Gazda
10 Jun 2011, 12:06
WE have an old home which is up fpor sale...... we have a number of tiny holes located in many of the floor joists, these were wood where some bark had been present but has come off a long time ago... .... there is NO sign of any insect activity sawdust or tunnels etc.....
Any idea of what may have caused these tiny holes and is it a current problem or something which has resolved itself over time....
Ask the Exterminator
10 Jun 2011, 12:09
Could be powder post beetles. Look it up on this website to compare photos of the damaged wood.
Robert F. Gazda
10 Jun 2011, 12:10
We have a older home which is up for sale...we have discovered tiny holes in many of the floor joists...these old joists are native lumber which had some bark which has come off over time.... there is NO sign of any insects or any insect activity: mud tunnels, sawdust etc....... What would have caused these holes and is it likely to be a current issue or something that has resolved itself over time???

Thanks for your help!!
04 Aug 2011, 20:13
I live in an older apartment building where every units have a wooden balcony. This evening I took in my new hummingbird feeder to empty it and clean it when I noticed a few little striped ants on it. I had never seen those types of ants before, so I looked it up and I'm pretty sure they are carpenter ants. I went outside to put the hummingbird feeder back when I noticed a bunch of those ants on the hook. Like I mentioned the balconies are all made of old wood. I've never seen any in our apartment or near our balcony until today. Should I be worried?
sharon abbott
05 Aug 2011, 07:50
we pulled up our old carpet to redo our original wood floor now all of a sudden we see black ants.we never had a problem with them before.are these carpenter ants my husband went out side could not find anything. we even put a fog bomb off too no avail.?? whats next
Ask the Exterminator
16 Aug 2011, 11:31
Could be carpenter ants, or not. Fogging for ant control is a waste of time. Get the ants properly identified before trying to treat.
Linda Denton
24 Aug 2011, 06:20
We too pulled up old carpet to redo the wood floors. There is a gap between the flooring and the trim that big black ants are coming in. Our fear is not only the ants coming in but mice coming in when the weather gets cold (the house is near a river on a big lot). We were thinking of taking foam insulation and filling the gap in. Good idea or bad idea?
Ask the Exterminator
24 Aug 2011, 12:24
Foam insulation won't stop carpenter ants or mice. Take a look at a product called Xcluder at this link: It's inexpensive, easy to work with and lasts forever.
Diana Brown
09 Feb 2012, 22:57
all of a sudden my apartment has become infested with carpenter ants. the other night i came home and my whole apartment floor was covered in thousands of ants. what should i do to get ride of them.
29 Apr 2012, 17:36
I am seeing little black ants on my wall, ceiling, and countertop of my MAIN BATHROOM - my other bathroom has had several leaks fixed (so I know there has to be water damage), I never noticed any in it. I pretty sure there is water damage in the main bathroom, because under the sink, in the cabinet, the back battom of it has sunk down . I recently moved away from a house that had severe infestation of Carpenter Ants, and the Landlord did nothing. Now this Landlord is also not doing much, she says she will, but a month has gone by with nothing being done. HELP, I'm not afraid of Snakes, and so on . . but I am extremely squirmish of little "Bugs", cuz my imagination runs wild - they might crawl in my ear or mouth while I am aseelp ! And I won't use the Main Bathroom now !
Ask the Exterminator
30 Apr 2012, 16:31
Sounds like you know what's causing the problem. Fix the moisture and you'll fix your insect infestation. This is between you and your landlord.
15 May 2012, 03:30
What is xcluder? If you do have a colony of carpenter ants in yovr wooden floors but are couered with carpet what do you do to kill the nest? Please help with any info you may have. Thank You.
Sparks from Iowa
Ask the Exterminator
17 May 2012, 12:00
Xcluder is a steel wool product that is used to seal openings. The steel is stainless, so it never rusts like regular steel wool.

Use carpenter ant bait to kill the nest.
21 Jul 2012, 13:05
I have ants not exactly sure what type they are, but they have dug into the floor of my living room, kitchen and hallway.all three are connected by one wall which I believe is wher the ants are coming from. I have had this problem for 3 years now and don't know what to do. I have sealed the cracks and they continue to dig out. I have put down ant baits and ant powder. I am now getting a new kitchen fitted in and last thing u want is them to infest the cupboards. Should I pull the floor sideboards and have a look or should I call pest control? Please help
05 Oct 2012, 15:07
We live in NC and some very small ants destroyed a piece of trim on the inside of our house around the front door.

They are very tiny and it is my understanding that carpenter ants are larger.

What kind would they be and if we do a termite treatment for the house (which we are thinking of doing).. would that take care of them? Tks.
Ask the Exterminator
05 Oct 2012, 15:10
Why do a termite treatment prior to having the insect properly identified? Collect an insect and take it to your local county extension agent for a free ID. Then you can act.
26 Jan 2014, 17:13

We have a few lone carpentine ants (small and smelly when squished). They're walking along our rugs, but sporadically. We cannot find a distinct trail, and are using soapy water to hopefully remove scent trails. Any ideas here? We have wool carpets, and keep our house clean and sugar free. Thanks!
Ask the Exterminator
27 Jan 2014, 10:09
Carpenter ants don't give of an odor when crushed. Sounds more like Odorous House ants. Read my article about these ants to learn about control.
Mary Lacek
15 Apr 2014, 21:52
I have had these 1/3 to 1/2" black carpenter ants in mainly my kitchen since January 19th. It is very unusual for this area to have ants in the house in the wintertime. I have scrubbed, put large ant houses out, and sprayed with Home Defense Spray and nothing has worked permanently. I've found dead ants and now I'm finding live ones again. How do you find the nest. Last Thanksgiving, I had ground potato skins up in my disposal and it clogged the pipes. Also water was leaking down underneath the sink but that has been resolved as well as the clogged pipe with the potato skins. How can I find the nest and how do I get these giant ants out of my house? They have moved into the dining room and family room and they basically all over the first floor, but the entry spot is definitely in the kitchen, I think, coming from under either the sink or dishwasher. HELP PLEASE!!!
22 Apr 2014, 23:04
How long do i have to stay out of my house if it got treated for wood ants and all the other bugs the guy said. inside and out. and he used this white powder and puffed it into my wall? Is any of this going to hert me?
Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my email
The box below is for visitor comments! Questions posted in this box may not be answered by Ask the Exterminator. For quickest response click on the "Ask the Exterminator a Question" link at top of this page.
Security Image: