What Are Good Carpenter Ant Baits?

carpenter ants infestation

Carpenter ants are one of the most common ant species you can encounter in the United States, and they can be difficult to manage if they've grown into a mature colony. A large carpenter ant nest isn't just tedious to remove: they can also be difficult to locate given their habit of creating satellite nests away from their parent colony. This is why using carpenter ant bait remains one of the best options to get rid of a carpenter ant nest.

So what are good food baits for carpenter ants? Carpenter ants usually prefer protein-rich food sources, but they're not above snacking on sweet ant bait if placed in the right locations. If you're looking to manage an active colony, careful selection of carpenter ant bait is crucial removing the presence of ants in your property.

Read More: Everything You Need to Know About Using Ant Bait in Your Pantry

What Type Of Ant Bait Works Best With Carpenter Ants?

A colony of carpenter ants will usually seek out protein-based foods like meat, fish, and chicken. However, they can also make do with pet food and other similar sources of protein if they don't have access to your regular foodstuff. If you're close to a particularly wooded area, they can find most of what they need from their surroundings, and may only venture inside your property to create satellite nests.

It's this particular habit that makes carpenter ants extremely difficult to remove once they've created enough satellite nests in an area. Since the parent colony will usually be located far away from where most people see carpenter ants, it's easy for people to think that they've already solved the problem when they haven't even seen where the parent nest is located.

Specific bait formulations will use this to their advantage since carpenter ants like to forage for their food sources between the parent nest and the satellite nests. Careful placement of bait should be more than enough to put a sizable dent in the ant colony itself, with smaller colonies dying out after being disconnected from the parent nest.

Ants are social insects by nature, and most pest management professionals will advise using this to your advantage when choosing bait for carpenter ants. Once you detect the presence of carpenter ants in your home, that usually means that the colony is sizable enough where bait can work - especially if there are sweet foods in the area. Indoor nests in particular are susceptible to liquid baits and gel baits as they forage in search of food, so laying them out on the ant trail or close the sources of food and water in your home should work well.

Ant bait brands you can consider for this type of treatment include Terro, Maxforce, and Advance. These ant bait products can be purchased from most pest management stores, though some vendors also stock them on sites like Amazon.

Read More: Everything You Need to Know About Using Ant Bait for Grass

Where To Put Carpenter Ant Bait

While you may have the best type of ant bait to use, it won't be as effective if you don't pick the right places for carpenter ants to take them. Typically, you'd want to place your ant bait around places with plenty of carpenter ant activity - easily identifiable by frass, or sawdust-like wood shavings that indicate where the colony is burrowing through.

Alternatively, you can also keep an eye on a potential foraging trail around your space that they've set up. While it may be difficult to stop these during the day, some adult worker ants usually venture outside the nest to check for potential new food sources and other places to expand the colony. You may have to leave the bait for a day or two before the entire colony is made aware of its presence and starts to feed on it.

One thing to keep in mind is that it's important to use both indoor and outdoor baits for taking care of carpenter ants. As one of the ant species that have multiple nests for a single colony, it will take an extensive amount of bait to make sure that enough ants are affected by the product to make the difference in the hive.

If you're lucky, the bait may actually make it close to or to the queen of the colony, which can usually kill the entire colony shortly after. However, this only happens when the colony is small enough, or you've placed your bait near the parent nest itself.

For outdoor baiting, it's best to place them near hollow trees, dead branches, tree stumps, tree limbs, tree trunks, or other wood sources that have been damaged by the moisture and the rain. Looking for piles of sawdust isn't as effective outdoors since they can be washed away by water and wind - but since carpenter ants love to make nests in damaged wood or decayed wood, potential nest sites should be easy to spot.

Other places to put carpenter ant bait include the perimeter of your home, small areas in your ceiling like an attic space, and other access routes like windows, window frames, and curtain rods. They don't necessarily have to be made of wood - like termite colonies, carpenter ants will take any route inside a house if they sense the conditions are good enough for their expansion.

Is It Wise To Use Actual Food As Carpenter Ant Bait?

For people who don't want to use chemical formulations or think that they're not attractive enough to catch enough ants, the inclination to use actual food might seem like a good idea. While they can certainly attract ants to your bait faster, there are several reasons why you should avoid using actual foodstuffs alongside ant bait:

  • It can attract other pests aside from ants
  • Potential breeding ground of bacteria and fungi
  • May be harmful to wildlife or pets in the vicinity
  • Ants may leave a pheromone trail warning other ants away from it
  • Satellite colonies may not be near the selected bait spot

Even if carpenter ants are attracted to food, chemical ant bait is enough to catch the attention of most foraging carpenter ants and redirect the ant traffic to your bait locations. One of the essentials of a control strategy for carpenter ants is preventing them from making any more satellite nests during treatment since the colony can simply abandon a nesting site and move to the new one. Putting out actual food with your ant bait may just encourage this behavior.

Why It's Important To Remove A Carpenter Ant Colony Immediately

Carpenter ants aren't the most dangerous ant species to infest your home - they don't really bite humans and tend to keep to areas of the house that don't see a lot of foot traffic. However, they're an ever-present threat to the structural integrity of your home, especially if most of your property is made of wood.

Carpenter ants don't actually eat wood like termites - they simply burrow through the material and hollow it out to create their nests. While this can theoretically make them less destructive than a termite infestation, a fully mature carpenter ant colony can be extremely dangerous to the well-being of your home.

Because carpenter ants hollow out wooden structures for their nests, once the colony gets big enough it will start to create satellite nests everywhere. This can be dangerous since unlike termites, carpenter ants will deliberately keep their hollow nests hidden from sight. Termite damage is noticeable and will often not stop until all the wood has been consumed; carpenter ant damage can lurk just beneath the surface.

This makes repairing the damage from carpenter ants almost impossible to fix without removing and replacing the infested wood entirely. Even then, the pheromone trails that they've left behind can easily signal other nearby satellite colonies to expand elsewhere in the home, until most of your property will be crawling with them.

Baiting is by far the most efficient way to deal with them since this method can target a good portion of the colony before the ants are any wiser to your trap. However, keep in mind that this is a temporary fix depending on the size of the ant colony - for bigger infestations, you'll need to call a professional.

Learn More: Best Time to Bait Carpenter Ants

What To Avoid When Baiting Carpenter Ants

carpenter ant infestation

Baiting carpenter ants can seem fairly simple once you've figured out their habits and potential nesting sites - but there are some things that you should keep in mind when using ant baits for better results. Here are three things to remember when using ant bait:

Not checking if there are other ant species in the area.

Carpenter ants, despite their size, will usually avoid infringing on the territory of other ant species if they're close to one another. This can lead to situations where your specific carpenter ant bait won't work because other ant species keep getting to your bait first.

One way to avoid this is to put out bait specifically during the evening when carpenter ants like to forage for food and most of the colony is out of the nest. By getting more ants to take the bait back to the colony, your bait will have a higher chance of working.

Putting ant killer sprays or pesticides near ant bait.

The entire point of using ant bait is to attract ants to bring it back to the nest - which is why using ant killer sprays or insecticide near your ant baits can render it useless.

Carpenter ants rely heavily on chemical signals to guide the rest of their colony's actions. If you put your ant bait in a place where they can also detect ant killers, they'll warn the other ants to avoid it.

This isn't to say that ant killer sprays don't work with bait treatment. Careful application of ant repellent can limit the foraging trails that carpenters ants can make around your area, which you can use to lead them into your bait stations. Just make sure that you leave enough room for a foraging trail, and the scout ants should create a trail when the rest of the colony looks for food. 

Being conservative with the amount of bait that you use.

As discussed, carpenter ant colonies can be massive and span several nests in a single location. This means that being conservative with the amount of bait that you use can lead to substandard results. It'll take a sizable amount of bait to make any dent in the colony - and you need to make sure that the amount of bait that you use stays consistent throughout your treatment.

You can adjust the amount of bait you use if you have a fair idea of the size of the colony, but most experts would recommend that you should use more than you'd expect. Not only can this help prevent future infestations from appearing, but it can also speed up the rate that existing nests get wiped out.

If you need more help and advice about the best way to bait carpenter ants, consulting a professional is always a good idea. Not only can they give you an accurate assessment of your ant infestation, but in many cases, they can take care of the entire baiting routine for you.

Professional Removal Of Carpenter Ants And Other Insect Infestations

Carpenter ants can be baited to thin their numbers, but the only way you can get rid of an entire colony is with professional help. A carpenter ant colony can be difficult to remove without understanding the exact circumstances of your infestation - and even then, control of carpenter ants on your own is never a sure thing.

If you find that your carpenter ant infestation is bigger than you imagined, contact the experts at Pinnacle Pest Control Our experts are qualified and insured for pest management, giving you long-term results. Call Pinnacle Pest Control today and request a free quote from us.

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