Carpenter ants are a nuisance that can invade your home during the spring and summer months.
But there comes a period when carpenter ants suddenly disappear.
Do their disappearance signal that carpenter ants are gone for good? Or is it just a temporary absence?
In this post, you’ll get to the answer to these questions.
Plus, you’ll also find out why carpenter ants come back and how stop them from invading your home.
And a whole lot more!
What Do Carpenter Ants Look Like
Carpenter ants are big black ants that are common in many homes especially during the spring and summer months.
Carpenter ants, when fully mature, are ½ an inch long. They’ve got a prominent head followed by the thorax.
The abdomen is a thick tear-drop shaped rear end of the carpenter ants. There’s a common node that links the thorax and the abdomen.
That node is clearly visible if you notice the carpenter ants closely.
Why Carpenter Ants Suddenly Disappear
Even though you do nothing, carpenter ants can disappear from your home.
And that can be baffling. It’s Because these ants tend to show up after a temporary absence.
Let’s have a look at the five reasons for their disappearance.
1 – Carpenter Ants Hibernate During Winters
Nine out of ten times, you’ll notice that carpenter ants disappear during the winter months.
Why? It’s because carpenter ants hibernate during winters.
And many homeowners believe that carpenter ants have quit their homes for good.
But that’s not the case.
When the temperature drops during the winter, carpenter ants will retreat to their nests to keep themselves warm and wait for the spring month to arrive.
If there’s a severe carpenter ants infestation in your home, there are carpenter ants’ nests in your home indeed.
You’ll find out later in the post where carpenter ants build their nests, and how to find those nests.
But for now, it’s important for you to know that carpenter ants’ nests are there in your home for sure if there’s an infestation.
2 – You’ve Cleaned Your Home And Did Some Home Repairs
Did you an extensive cleaning of your home and kitchen? Did you repair leaking pipes? Or did you get rid of any damaged pieces of wood?
If your answer is yes to any one of three questions above, then you’ll notice a sudden disappearance of carpenters ants in your home.
Removal of clutter, plumbing works repairing water leaks and disposal of damaged pieces of wood deny the carpenter ants their hiding and nesting places.
On top of that, if you’ve sealed some cracks, or if you’ve repaired a damaged wall, you’d notice reduction in carpenter ants sightings in your home.
Outdoors, carpenter ants feed on dead insects, nectar of flowers, and honeydew that aphids produce.
Contrary to popular belief, carpenter ants don’t eat wood. They’d carve out a place against the wood grain inside the rotting section of the wood.
Carpenter ants eat food high in protein, like meat and fish, and sweet stuff like honey jelly, syrups, and sweets.
So, if you’ve gotten rid of food wastes from your kitchen that’ll surely lead to lesser sightings of carpenter ants.
3 – You’ve Cleaned Your Yard Or Garden.
Let’s face it. Your yard and garden are a source of carpenter ants and to many other invasive bugs like cockroaches and termites.
Trimming of bushes and getting rid of organic wastage in your yard will reduce bug activities both at outdoors and inside your home.
It’s because carpenter ants live in these places.
Replacing mulch bed with anti-bug mulches also keep many bugs, including ants and termites, away.
Another important thing that makes carpenter ants suddenly disappear is when you get rid of tree stumps in your yard.
Tree stumps are a haven for both ants and termites to nest.
4 – There Are Spiders And Centipedes Inside Your Home
Both spiders and centipedes are predators. They hunt down and eat all types of bugs that they can get their fangs on.
So, if there’s a presence of spiders and centipedes, they’re helping you reduce the number of carpenter ants in your home.
But spiders and centipedes won’t eat the entire ant colonies inside your home. Nor will they destroy the carpenter ants’ nests.
You’ll notice the disappearance of carpenter ants because of centipedes and spiders only if the carpenter ants’ infestation level is low.
3 Reasons Why Carpenter Ants Suddenly Appear Out Of Nowhere
It’s not just their disappearance, the re-appearance can also be as much surprising.
The causes of their appearance are primarily opposite to the cause of their sudden disappearance.
Here’s why carpenter ants suddenly appear.
1 – Carpenter Ants Come Out Of Hibernation
Carpenter ants appear in your home from the beginning of the spring when their hibernation period gets over.
They’ll continue with their foraging activity inside your home.
And if your home still has enough supply of moisture and food waste, then it’s a win-win for them.
Starting from the spring months, carpenter ants will breed and lay eggs.
It’s during this time of the year carpenter ants cause maximum damage.
They’ll bore into the wooden material, like furniture and wooden joists and wooden picture frames inside your home, to lay their eggs.
The damage that carpenter ants cause to wood isn’t as severe as the damage caused by termites. Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t eat wood.
But many carpenter ants mean more ants are boring inside the wooden structures in your home, causing more damage.
2 – Swarms Of Carpenter Ants Enter Your Home
Carpenter ants have wings. And they can fly.
But hang on. Carpenter ants develop wings at a particular life stage in their life cycle.
The life stage when carpenter ants gain wings is known as alates. And alates are reproductive carpenter ants that look like flying termites.
So, where do these alates or flying ants come from?
These reproductives leave their old nests in swarms. And the purpose of leaving their old colonies is to look out for a place to establish a new colony.
The alates will move fly in swarms and look for a new home or property to begin their new colonies.
And when they find one, which can be your home, they’ll mate. After mating, they’ll lose their wings.
After losing their wings, these flying ants become the carpenter ants – black random ants that you see crawling inside your home.
Only a few of these flying ants can mate. Many of them die.
That’s why you’ll find broken wings of these ants lying on the floor. And dead carpenter ants too.
So, one of the ways that carpenter ants can suddenly appear out of nowhere is when the swarms have invaded your home and finished their mating ritual.
3 – You Unintentionally Introduce Carpenter Ants In Your Home
Carpenter ants can suddenly appear despite your home lacking everything that can attract them.
And that happens when you accidentally introduce them inside your home.
You do it by bringing potted plants, firewood, and cardboard boxes, or anything that they’re latching onto.
If you’ve been on any outdoor trip, carpenter ants can also sneak into your luggage.
And once they’re inside your home, carpenter ants will indeed find places to nest, breed, and establish their colonies.
So, how would you know that there are carpenter ants in your home?
For that, you’d need to check out the signs of carpenters. The following section covers it all.
6 Signs Of Carpenter Ants In The House
Now that you know why carpenter ants suddenly disappear and appear, let’s look at signs of carpenter ants in the house.
There are six signs of carpenter ants in the house.
1 – Physical Sightings Of Carpenter Ants In The House
Yes, that’s the most glaring sign of carpenter ants’ presence in your home.
Sighting of even one carpenter is a possible indication of presence of more ants.
The most common places where physical sightings of carpenter ants are kitchen, attic, basement, and bathroom.
These places are damp, have many tiny gaps to hide, and your kitchen is the place that is center of food supply for carpenter ants.
Additionally, in many old homes door frames, window sills, and furniture in bathroom and basement are quite damp.
That dampness damages the wood pieces which makes it ideal for carpenter ants to build their nests.
2 – Sawdust Under The Wooden Materials
Sawdust is fine wood dust that drops off from the pieces of wood if you drill in them.
That’s what carpenter ants do. They’ll drill in the damp pieces of wood, and at times, in healthy undamaged wood pieces too.
And why do they do that?
They do it to lay their eggs. Carpenter ants will drill inside the wood and lay their eggs.
After hatching, the larvae from the egg will remain inside the wood. The worker ants will feed the larvae.
The larvae will pupate or turn into pupae (which is a cocoon that they build around themselves).
Within a few days, the winged ants will break out of the cocoon. It’ll drill holes on the wood from the inside to fly out.
That leads to the third sign of carpenter ants in the house.
But there’s a catch. Sawdust or wood shavings underneath wooden structures can also be a sign of drywood termites or powder post beetles.
3 – Tiny Holes On The Wooden Pieces And Structures
These tiny holes can indicate two things. First, the adult carpenter ants have drilled themselves inside to lay eggs.
Or the second, the winged outs emerged out of the infested wood.
No matter what, tiny holes on pieces of wood, including on the structural wood like beam and joists is a glaring red sign.
It can indicate anything from the presence of carpenter ants in your home to a massive, and dreaded, drywood termite infestation.
If you notice these tiny holes on the wooden pieces or structures, your best course of action is to hire a pest controller for an inspection.
4 – Trails Of Carpenter Ants Crawling Inside Your Home From Outdoors
Trails of random black ants entering your home from the yard is also a clear sign of presence of carpenter ants in your home.
Because carpenter ants, and most bugs, emit pheromones – a secretion that they discharge to lead other ants to the food source.
In some bugs, secretion of pheromones is a preceding activity before mating. That’s one of the ways to attract to a mate.
Most of the times, these trails of ants lead to the ants’ nests or to the place from where there are getting their food, which can be your kitchen.
5 – Scratching Sound Coming Out Of Wooden Structures And Walls
It’s not just the wooden structures that carpenter ants can drill into. They can also get inside damaged damp walls.
When they’re in the walls that’s more for the purpose of building nests than for laying eggs.
The scratching sound can be too fain to hear. Carpenter ants are nocturnal. So, you can hear the scratching chewing sound during the night.
6 – Winged Ants Coming Out Of Wooden Structures Through Tiny Holes
Now this one is the worst sign of carpenter ants in the house.
It means your home has become the center point of carpenter ants that sustain the entire life cycle of these ants.
As you know, these winged ants are alates, which are reproductive ants. They’re getting out of the wooden piece where they spend their time as larvae.
These alates can move out of your home. But if you’ve got a big enough house, they’ll reinfest fresh places inside your home.
Even if you don’t see the alates, you’ll see broken wings or dead winged ants inside your home.
How To Find Carpenter Ant Nests Or Colonies
To find carpenter ant nest you need to know where they build their nests.
Inside your home, carpenter ants build nests on damaged wood pieces or structures.
These pieces of wood are either damaged by excessive moisture or by wood damaging pests like termites and powder post beetles.
So, the most common places where you can find carpenter ants’ nests are the places that have damaged woods.
These places are windows, doors frames in bathroom and basements, chimneys, sinks, and damaged baseboards.
On top of that carpenter ants can also makes nests in hollow spaces like wall voids. These wall voids are present in walls that are old and damaged by excessive moisture.
Damaged woods have enough moisture that can keep the carpenter ants’ colonies alive.
In addition to that, it protects them from potential predators and from extreme cold or heat.
But to find carpenter ants is a tricky work.
It’s because carpenter ants don’t make single nest. They make multiple nests.
There’s one parent nest, where the queen ant, worker ants serving the queen, and larvae hide.
And there are multiple satellite nests a bit farther from the parent nest. Mostly worker ants occupy these satellite colonies or nests.
The purpose of keeping the queen ants separate from the satellite colonies is to keep her safe from attacks by predators.
The worker ants will carry food to the parent colonies to feed the queen ant. The queen ant will rarely leave the nest.
Outdoors, carpenter ants will nest in dead tree stumps, firewood piles, and even in mulch bed.
Carpenter ants can also make nests on trees that are alive.
The amount of damage that carpenter ants can cause to your home depends on their numbers, and of course, on the number of nests.
The more the number of nests inside your home, the more damage carpenter ants will cause.
The best way to confirm if there’s a nest in a damp or damaged wood is to tap on the cracked areas of the wood.
Or poke it with a pen. If there’s a nest, then you’ll notice carpenter ants scurrying out of the crack.
But spotting the nests of carpenter ants needs expertise. It’d be best if you hire a pest control professional to do the job.
The pest control professional will know where to look for the nests and will also recommend you a course of action to get rid of carpenter ants.
How To Get Rid Of Carpenter Ants? DIY Carpenter Ant Control
Stopping them from entering your home, using ant baits, and carpenter ant killer sprays are best ways to get rid of carpenter ants in your home.
Let’s have a look at how you can do them.
Deter Carpenter Ants From Entering Your Home
Deterring carpenter ants from entering your home is a long-term solution to prevent an infestation.
Here are the 10 steps to stop carpenter ants from entering your home –
- Seal the gaps and cracks on the windowsills, door frames, and walls to prevent ants from sneaking inside.
- Discard damaged and damp wood from your home and yard.
- Reduce moisture content of your home by fixing water leakages inside your home and yard.
- Ensure proper food waste disposal. Do not let food waste pile up in the trash bins.
- Trim overgrown bushes, replace mulch beds, and do not overwater your yard or garden.
- Repair damaged walls.
- Maintain cleanliness in home and yard, especially in your kitchen and basement.
- Scatter ant granules around your home’s foundation and perimeter. Ant granules are a barrier to entry for all types of ants and they last for months.
- Install window shields with fine mesh on your windows, especially during the spring and summer months. These window shields will prevent ant swarms from entering your home.
- Get rid of any dead tree stumps in your yard. Carpenter ants nest in them.
The presence of the above ten things in your home attracts carpenter ants to your home and property.
Get rid of them and you’ll massively reduce the risk of carpenter ant infestation in your home.
Keep Ants Traps Or Ant Baits To Draw Out The Hiding Carpenter Ants
Ant baits or ant traps are cheap and effective ways to draw ants out of hiding and to kill them.
Keep these ant baits in places like your kitchen, basement, and bathroom, or in places where you’ve noticed a ant trail coming in and out.
Carpenter ants don’t travel more than 100 yards from their nests. So, keeping the traps in these places will lure many ants out of their nests.
Ant baits contain pheromones mixed with poisonous chemicals. The pheromones attract the ants and when they take a bite of it, they die.
Ant traps are sticky ant baits that traps the ants when they step on them.
But make sure that ants bait and traps are out of reach of children and pets.
Use Carpenter Ant Sprays On The Carpenter Ants’ Nest
There are many ant sprays that kill carpenter ants on contact. You can spray those sprays on the carpenter ants’ nests or on the carpenter ants.
There’s also a natural way to get rid of carpenter ants by using a mixture of white vinegar and water.
Prepare the mixture by mixing equal amounts of white vinegar and water. Shake the mixture well and pour it in a spray bottle.
Now you can spray the mixture on the ants’ nests. The mixture will kill the ants.
You can also spray the mixture outdoors in your yard too. The mixture is an effective bug killer that kills many bugs including ants.
But remember, if carpenter ants are showing up again despite these measures it means that you’re not able to locate their colonies.
In that case, it’ll be best to hire a professional exterminator to do the job.
What Kills Carpenter Ants?
Here’s a list of products that kill carpenter ants instantly on contact.
This carpenter ant bait is specifically for outdoors. And you need it because carpenter ants invade homes from your yard or garden.
Scatter it around your home and let it do it’s work. The best part is that it protects your from all types of ants, including the red fire ants.
The carpenter ants take the ant baits back to their colonies to consume it.
The end result?
All the ants in the colonies die a slow death, including the queen ant.
If you’re looking for a reliable insecticide spray that works on ants and on many other bugs like roaches and beetles, this is the one to use.
And it’s specifically designed for indoors.
Spray it on the ants. It’ll kill them on contact.
Did you find ants nest inside your home or in the tree stumps in your yard?
Yes? Then use this spray on the nest to eliminate them.
The best part? It’s safe for pets, kids, and plants.
If there’s one thing that you can keep in your home as a reliable bug killer, it’s the diatomaceous earth.
And Harris Diatomaceous Earth kills many invasive pests like roaches, fleas, bed bugs, and not to mention, carpenter ants.
All you need to do is to sprinkle it inside the cracks and wall voids where carpenter ants can nest. That’s it.
You can also scatter it on your floor where you’ve noticed ant trails.
But there’s one drawback. It doesn’t work if it gets wet.
So, refrain from using it on moist and damp areas of your home like bathroom.
Do Carpenter Ants Bite?
Yes, carpenter ants can bite you.
They’ve got strong mandibles that can pierce your skin that leads to a burning sensation.
The carpenter ant bite is also painful but not as painful as a bee sting.
Carpenter ants can also inject a liquid known as formic acid on the bitten area that aggravates the pain.
Carpenter ants don’t carry any venom, and they don’t transmit any diseases.
Also, carpenter ants are not aggressive in nature like the fire ants.
Despite not taking any steps to get rid of carpenter ants in your home, there can be a reduction in their sightings and activities during winters.
And that’s because they go hiding in their nests for hibernation.
Plus, there are four more reasons that can play a role in the disappearance of carpenter ants. This post reveals them too.
But remember, this temporary absence will last till the spring. After that carpenter ants will begin their foraging and damaging activities inside your home.
There’s also a three-step process in this post to eliminate carpenter ants in your home.
But finding colonies of carpenter ants is the key to get rid of them. Not getting rid of the colonies can make the infestation severe.
That’s why it’s always a wise choice to hire a pest control professional to eliminate carpenter ants infestation from your home.
We’re Mark and Jim, and we’re retired pest controllers who made homes pest-free for more than three decades. We, along with our team of experts, founded this site to give you the pest control hacks that work.