Beyond giving you the heebie-jeebies, carpenter ants are very destructive pests if they find a way into your home. You may have an infestation in your house if you notice a few big, blackish-red ants and sawdust looking powder on window sills or near floorboards. A major sign of these critters is the small rustling sound of carpenter ants in walls. If you think there’s an infestation in your house, here’s how to get rid of carpenter ants in walls.

What are carpenter ants?

Carpenter ants range from ¼ to ¾ inches long, much larger than a typical ant. Carpenter ants may be black, brown, red or some combination of those colors. They have reddish-brown heads, a thorax and black abdomen.

These ants are called carpenters because they like to nest in wall voids – they don’t eat wood. They look for the easy ‘chew’, targeting damp or damaged wood. Once they enter your house, however, they can create many more pathways or galleries. That rustling you heard? It can be the sound of carpenter ants gnawing a nest in your walls.

Carpenter ants love sugar and protein, so once inside your home they’ll seek out pet food, meat snacks, jelly, sugar, and crumbs (especially sweet ones). When threatened, carpenter ants do bite, releasing a painful acid.

What to do when you hear the sound of carpenter ants in walls

Your first inclination when you hear rustling in the walls may be to take a sledgehammer and break the wall to get to the ants. Don’t do it. Carpenter ants can build multiple nests and sledgehammering your way through walls will create an unnecessary mess without a guarantee you’ll find all the ants. To get rid of carpenter ants the right way, you should:

Start with an inspection with a Portland exterminator

The exterminator will look for nest sites, inside and outside your house. The ants you spotted in your kitchen foraging for food left trails the exterminator will follow to find nests. Vulnerable areas inside your home include:

    • Crawl Spaces
    • Wood Beams
    • Windows and skylights
    • Wall Voids
    • Sinks
    • Plumbing

And while you may have heard carpenter ants in the walls, some of the nests may be outside your home in areas such as:

  • Trees or stumps
  • Landscaping wood
  • Woodpiles
  • Wooden fences
  • Mulch
  • Roof soffits, vents or gutters
  • Entrances for electric, cable, TV, telephone and gas lines
  • Wooden sheds or dog houses

Destroy the carpenter ant nests

Do not complete this step yourself. Rely on the expertise of a Portland exterminator who will assess the situation and respond with appropriate treatment.

    • For outdoor nests, the exterminator may use a carpenter ant bait. The poisonous bait, placed along a foraging trail, will be taken back to the nest where it eradicates the colony.
    • Insecticides are another option for outside nests. When sprayed around the perimeter of your house, insecticides will quickly stop outsiders from entering.
    • When nests are found indoors, the exterminator will drill small holes 16” on center around the entire home, then spray an insecticide into the holes to kill the ants.
    • Follow up exterior perimeter foundation stem wall treatments are advised during the warmer months.

Prevent further infestations

After you’re rid of carpenter ants, your exterminator can give you tips for keeping these interlopers away from your walls. Here’s a starting list:

    • Check for leaks or damp wood since this can provide an easy point of access.
    • Seal any holes or cracks on the exterior of your house around windows, doors, and utility lines.
    • Trim trees and shrubs away from your house to remove ‘highways’ the carpenter ants may use to get inside for food.
    • Consider investing in ongoing perimeter insecticide applications. This provides peace of mind that invaders will stay out.

The Bug Man in Portland, Oregon

Call The Bug Man for more information about how to get rid of carpenter ants in walls. Our Portland pest control services are handled by professional exterminators who know how to get the job done right.

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