There are almost thirty species of carpenter ants in the U.S. Several species invade homes and cause problems for homeowners. The carpenter ant workers excavate nesting sites in wood. This often causes structural damage to homes and distress for the homeowners.
When carpenter ants invade homes, they usually make small satellite nests. The workers march in line between the satellite nests, the food source, and the main nest outdoors. Some species of carpenter ants can make more then twenty satellite nests. Finding and treating all of the satellite nests can be a real challenge. Homeowners want to eliminate all of the ants and they do not want the ants to come back.
Carpenter ant bait has proven to be an effective tool for eliminating carpenter ant colonies. The bait is made from a food product that the ant workers will eat. There is a small amount of active ingredient added so that the bait will kill the ants. There are several types of bait available for carpenter ant control — liquid, gel, and solid pellets.
The foraging workers find the bait and take it back to the nest. The workers share the bait with all of the ants in the colony. When all of the ants have eaten the bait, the colony will normally die. The process usually takes several days.
Sometimes people are unsuccessful using carpenter ant bait. There are several possible reasons for ant bait failure. If carpenter ant workers have a food supply in a home, they may not switch to bait. Food in the pantry should be stored in sealed containers. Spills should be cleaned up promptly. Recycle bins and trash containers should be kept outside. Even dirty dishes can be a food source for carpenter ants, so they should be taken care of promptly.
Carpenter ants naturally switch foods. The workers forage for proteins to feed the larvae (immature ants). They forage for sweets to feed the adult ants in the colony. Carpenter ant baits are made with both types of food. It may be necessary to use both types of bait to get the foraging workers to take it. To be sure that the workers find the bait, place it next to the trail that the ants use. Keep the bait out of the reach of children and pets.
Many carpenter ant colonies contain thousands of ants. The workers are active at night, so a homeowner may see only a few workers. Bait treatment requires applying enough bait for all of the ants. When the workers have started eating the bait, the homeowner should watch carefully. The bait should be kept filled as long as there are ants feeding from it.