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Carpenter ants are one of natures most aggressive wood destroyers. Similar to termites, carpenter ants damage wood. Unlike termites however, carpenter ants do not eat wood for food. Carpenter ants only bore into wood to establish and/or enlarge their nest. They can do lots of damage to wood. Because of their ability to excavate wood and cause moderate amounts of localized damage,, they are of economic importance to the pest control industry and to homeowners alike.
Carpenter ants do not eat wood. Carpenter ants eat aphid and other sweet sugary insects. Aphids are their #1 choice of food. Carpenter ants will care for, groom, raise and nurture aphids within their colony in special "aphid" chambers. Carpenter ants do this to derive "honeydew" from the Aphids. Aphids secret honeydew which is the Carpenter ants favorite food. Carpenter ants take care of Aphids to get their honeydew. Its nature's way of allowing ants and aphids to live in harmony with each other. What happens when the Aphids stop secreting honeydew? They become carpenter ant bait!
It has often been thought that in order to get rid of Carpenter ants, all one has to do is to get rid of the Aphids. Aphids will attack all kinds of outdoor plants, so by spraying the plants you get rid of the Aphids. Unfortunately, this often provides poor control since Carpenter ants can forage several hundred yards looking for Aphids.
Big Black Carpenter Ants Excavating A Nest
Carpenter Ant Damage To Pole
Carpenter ants can be considered wood destroying pests because of their ability to cause damage to wood. The amount of damage carpenter ants cause is usually far less in comparison to that of subterranean termites, however, if carpenter ant nests are left untreated and undisturbed, the shear numbers of ants can be enormous and the resulting damage caused by "mining" of wood to increase the nest can be substantial.
Carpenter ants cause damages to wood primarily due to nest construction. In other words, damages are only a result of their nest building efforts. As a general rule, carpenter ants do not damage wood as heavily as subterranean termites, but given enough time and a large enough nest, damages can be severe. Carpenter ants have a habit of cleaning and polishing the galleries in the wood. The galleries are smooth in appearance and do not resemble the rough jagged appearance of subterranean termite galleries.
During the mining or excavation phase of nest building, Carpenter ants make small "kick-out holes" out of which all the trash and debris accumulated within the nest are tossed out. The tossing's which consist primarily of wood chips, insect particles, dead ants, etc, often form small scattered piles. These small scattered piles are often referred to by professionals as "frass". If frass is found, then it should be carefully inspected with a magnifying glass to determine that it is carpenter ant frass and not the frass of drywood termites. Drywood termites (only found in southern coastal regions) will toss frass out of small kick out holes too. The difference is that drywood termite frass is made up of their excrement and does not contain any insect particles, wood shavings, etc. Drywood termite frass only contains drywood termite fecal pellets which if viewed under a magnifying glass resemble a small football with 6 concave sides.
Any wood destroying insect damage should be a cause for concern and should be carefully evaluated. If you discover that carpenter ants are the problem then the appropriate action needs to begin immediately - and preferably during the early stages of colony development. If you let the carpenter ants continue to populate and the nest to grow, then control becomes much more difficult and in some severe cases almost impossible to achieve.
Click here for more information on how to tell ants from termites
Florida Carpenter Ant(also referred to as the red andblack carpenter ant)
Carpenter ants in North America usually involve 3 main species. The Florida Carpenter Ant usually referred to as the red and black carpenter ant, the Camponotus Modoc (western US) and Camponotus Pennsylvanicus (eastern US) usually referred to as the big black carpenter ants . Since the Florida Carpenter Ant, Camponotus Modoc and Pennsylvanicus have similar nesting patterns and feeding patterns, we will focus on control of carpenter ants in general, although all carpenter ant species may have different diets and habits depending on the geographical region in which they are located, time of year, and certain other factors.
Big Black Carpenter ant colonies are usually of moderate size, some containing over 3,000 workers (up to 10 -15,000 including satellite nests) when maturity is reached in about 3 to 6 years. The typical western carpenter ant (C, Modoc) mature colony contains about 10,000 -20,000 workers, with large colonies having up to 100,000 workers. Developmental time (egg to adult) for workers takes at about 60 days. Workers have different sizes (polymorphism), with majors, minors and intermediates present.
In order to effectively eliminate carpenter ants, you have to be absolutely sure that it is carpenter ants to begin with. Look for the following signs:
* Presence of ants (workers or winged reproductives) - An occasional ant may be a scout looking for food and may not indicate the presence of a nest, but continuous or numerous ants are a sign of nesting.
* Frass - Accumulating in piles or caught in spider webbing; has a finely-shredded appearance. Do not confuse with small sawdust from construction, doors or cabinets rubbing on one another, or drywood termite fecal pellets.
*Trails - Carpenter ants will often form tight closely associated trails that can be traced to the area of the nest. Many times trails can be tracing along carpet edges, door frames, outside eaves, fence tops, telephone and power lines, etc..
* Sounds - Rustling or tapping noises produced when disturbed ants rasp the substrate with their mandibles or gasters or when excavating wood. If you put your ear up to a hollow door and then scratch your fingers on the other side, the scratching sound will give you a good idea of what carpenter ants sound like.
Carpenter ant control begins with a search for the colony or nest. Before any efforts are made to eradicate carpenter ants, a program or strategy needs to be implemented. Do not simply spray "something" on the carpenter ants without considering the consequences. Simply spraying an "over the counter poison" on the ants without any other consideration will greatly complicate your control and sometimes make the infestation much worse.
#1 Reason you do not want to spray for carpenter ants:
Sprays will only kill the exposed worker ants.
Spraying will have no effect on the queens. Therefore if large numbers of worker ants begin to die - guess what happens ? The queens will lay more eggs, and since the queens will not be killed by sprays, the number of eggs will grow and multiply and eventually outnumber by many times the numbers of the original workers. That means your carpenter ant colony is now several times larger - all because the ants have a "natural tendency to survive".
#2 Reason you do not want to spray for carpenter ants:
Most chemical pesticide sprays tend to be very repellent to the ants. Chemical or pesticide repellency simply means that the ants can sense the presence of pesticides and will avoid them. That's right - the worker ants will simply avoid the chemical that you sprayed and travel or trail around it. If the chemical is sprayed too close to the nest, the queens will instruct the workers to pick up the eggs and move the nest farther away from the pesticide! Usually, as a result of moving, the queens will also instruct the workers to divide or "split" into several new nests. This splitting of dividing of the carpenter ant nest is also called "satelliting" or "budding". After the new nests are established, the new queens begin to lay more eggs and the entire carpenter ant system is divided and now instead of a single nest there are several nests to deal with, making control much more difficult.
Some pest control technicians as a result of using repellent sprays or dusts actually create more problems than they solve! Yes, they use repellent sprays thinking they are "doing a good job", but create more problems - as a result of not following rule #2.
Their are no non-repellent pesticide sprays labeled for indoor spraying. The only product that comes close to being non-repellent is Phantom a liquid spray product that also has an indoor ant label. Termidor also has an ant label for outdoor barrier use only.
The only non-repellent dusts for carpenter ant control are Timbor and Nibor . The ants will contact these dusts by crawling or trailing through them not realizing the presence of the dust. The ants will die within 7-14 days after being exposed these products. Nibor can be mixed with water and sprayed like a liquid pesticides. When the water evaporates it leaves a thin film of Nibor on surfaces sprayed.
The bottom line is, you have to find or make an attempt to find the carpenter ant nest and not use repellent sprays or dusts!
Once the carpenter ant colonies have been located, they need to be treated with baits or non-repellent insecticides. Only use non-repellent pesticides to kill carpenter ants. Non-repellent means that the Ants will not detect its presence and will not avoid it. In the case of baits, they will be attracted to it, and hopefully feed on it. In the case of dusts, foams or sprays, they will not detect their presence and will not be repelled.
Many carpenter ant infestations are made much worse with the random application of sprays purchased at hardware stores. Carpenter ants, as with most ants are repelled by stinky smelly chemicals. If you spray a stinky smell chemical near them, they will simply avoid it and move away from it. Sometimes, the ants will actually "split" their colony into several new colonies in order to survive. This is called "satelliting" or "budding". The point is that if you spray something random, without a good carpenter ant control strategy, you could be making the problem much worse and much more costly.
Carpenter ants outdoors
are usually always best controlled with baits.
Advance Carpenter Ant Bait
KM Ant Pro Ant Bait Station
are the only products that will effectively work long term to kill carpenter ants. These baits can be used in small quantities and applied close to the source of the nest or where the worker ants can pick them up. With Advance Carpenter Ant Bait, it is best to start with small quantities (tablespoon size) and check periodically to see if the ants are picking it up. If so, then more bait can be applied. Apply as much bait as the ants will consume. Remember, you may be dealing with a carpenter ant nest that contains tens of thousands of ants. If so, you may need to apply a lot of bait. How much you apply depends on how large the colony is.
KM Ant Pro Ant Bait Station
with Gourmet Liquid Ant Bait is by far the best overall pick for outside carpenter ant control. Using this system, you only need to install it outside. There is no need to do anything inside. The reason is that carpenter ants will continually forage outdoors, even if they are found inside. Carpenter ants only feed on plant nectars such as honeydew and nothing else. Because of this, even if they are nesting indoors, carpenter ants will trail to the outside of the buildinge to feed. Using the KM Ant Pro Ant Bait System, you systematically give them what they are looking for - honeydew! Try using the KM Ant Pro Ant Bait System and you will find that your carpenter ant problems will soon slowly diminish, and eventually be gone for good.
If you absolutely have to spray for carpenter ants outdoors, or if the carpenter ants are simply not taking the baits, then apply
to the outer perimeter of the home or building.
is a non-repellent chemical containing Fipronyl. Spray the outer perimeter of the structure 1 foot out and 1 foot up from the foundation wall where the building meets the ground. Termidor will effect the worker carpenter ants and in turn will have an effect on the entire colony through what is known as a "transfer effect". Termidor Foam can also be applied into walls and voids, but cannot be sprayed on baseboards or in living areas.
Ant colonies located inside wall voids
, hollow doors, window sills, etc, should be treated using dust products such as
Nibor-D . These products are non-repellent to the ants and are very effective. Using a small hand duster such as the Puffer Duster, apply Timbor or Nibor-D liberally into wall voids, hollow doors, attics, eaves, sub areas, etc.. The use of a small hand drill using a 3/16" bit may be necessary to apply the products into hidden or enclosed areas. Another good method is to remove all electrical and plumbing covers and dust into the walls and plumbing areas. Carpenter ants will travel from room to room via electrical lines and plumbing lines. Dusting these areas cuts off these routes of travel killing worker ants and also reducing "satelliting".
is very effective for most ant species and also the safest.
Advance Carpenter Ant Bait
Maxforce Carpenter Ant Bait Gel
are the easy to apply and very effective as long as they are applied into wall voids through switch plates or in hidden areas such as attics, voids, under carpeting, corners of cabinets etc. When using baits for ants, it is best to continually monitor and replace the baits every few days. Most of these baits are food grade and will spoil within 1 week. If used outdoors, then re-application needs to be made every few days, or after a rain. Don't place the bait 1 time and expect it to kill all of the ants. Effective ant baiting needs to be done continually, and on a a long term basis. When the ants numbers decline and the bait is not disappearing, you can begin to evaluate the control. Remember, you have to place enough bait over a long enough period of time to kill ALL of the ants. This is another reason why we recommend the KM Ant Pro System over all other baits. You simply "set it and forget it".
Perimeter treatments of building foundations, lawns or trees with a liquid insecticide will help prevent outdoor foraging ants from entering. Outdoor sprays such as
are very effective at killing carpenter ants. Outdoor Liquid Ant Feeders such as the
KM Ant Pro Ant Bait Station
also provide excellent long term protection and only have to be refilled with new bait every 90 days.
Most over the counter baits sold at hardware stores and retailers do not contain the same attractants or active ingredients as professional use baits. Although the packaging and advertising may appear convincing, millions of dollars are wasted by consumers annually on over the counter ant bait products that simply do not work. For this reason, ePestSupply.com is committed to offering only the finest Professional Quality ant bait products and at the lowest possible price. You can depend on ePestSupply.com and our commitment.
Want More Information on Carpenter Ants ? Get The Book !
PCT's Guide To Structure Infesting Ants
Controls exotic and invasive ants such as argentine,ghost, white footed, crazy, fire ants and others!
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