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What Attracts Carpenter Ants (7 Things to Avoid)

Carpenter ants are a common problem for homeowners. They’re a common ant species, that’ll frequently invade homes. 

These little insects can also be difficult to get rid of once they’ve invaded your house. 

To do this, you need to know why they came in the first place.

So, what attracts carpenter ants? 

The answer: a lot of things. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common things that can cause a carpenter ant infestation.

Here’s What Attracts Carpenter Ants to Your Home

  • Food Items, leftovers & crumbs
  • Damp wood
  • Moisture & damp areas
  • Tree branches that are touching the house
  • Wood near your home
  • Piles of debris and trash
  • Plants

Learn more: What attracts ants?

Food Items, Leftovers & Crumbs

It is important to keep your home clean of food items, crumbs, and leftovers. If you have leftovers, be sure they are stored properly until trash day or taken out immediately – don’t let them lay around in the open. 

You should also keep all counters clear of dirty dishes, as ants will also want to collect any food from the dirty plates or bowls.

The general rule of thumb is to clean up after yourself. Ants will eat almost any food, though mostly sugar or other forms of carbohydrates. Some ants will also target meat.

If you’ve spilled any juice or soda (or other drinks containing sugar), this can also attract ants.

Learn more: What do carpenter ants eat?

ants eating food on the ground

Damp Wood (Windowsills, Beams, & Others)

Damp wood is a huge attractant for carpenter ants. A common place that gets damp is near windowsills or doors because those areas are more exposed to rainwater/outside conditions. 

This can bring some humidity into your home as well as cause small leaks in your roofing system (and sometimes even foundation) if not taken care of right away.

Carpenter ants can also be attracted to beams because they are made of wood. If these are wet as well, it can become a sure attractant for the carpenter ants.

If you have an older home with beams, there is a high chance that there could be carpenter ants trying to take over the space. 

They like damp spaces so if you’ve got what seems like water damage (water stains or peeling paint) near these places, you should look into repairs.

carpenter ants on tree branch

Moisture and Damp Areas

Carpenter ants love to live in moist and damp areas, especially near water. Look around your home for any leaks or moisture that might be causing the ants to keep coming back. 

This is especially important if you see ants in your bathroom.

Make sure to give your sink, bathtub, and shower a good look for any pools of water.

canpenter ant trail

Tree Branches Touches the House

Sometimes the reason for a carpenter ant infestation is simpler, but more out of the box, than we might think. Something like tree branches touching your house can cause carpenter ants to start invading your home.

If there are carpenter ants in trees around your house, they might use the branches as a route into your home. If there’s also something else in your home attracting the ants, you should look out for this.

ant hybernating

Wood Near Your Home

One of the biggest things that attract carpenter ants is wood near your home [2]. This is especially important to look out for if you have a stack of firewood next to your house.

Firewood is a very common place to find a carpenter ant nest. Since people often keep this next to their house, the carpenter ants sometimes scout for food in your home.

alone carpenter ant crawling on the woods

Piles of Debris and Trash

The more debris in a spot, the better for carpenter ants. Debris and trash are great sources of food for the little insects.

This can be things such as your trashcan, or if you’re rebuilding, piles of building materials, or debris from your efforts.

Again, the solution is here to clean up properly after yourself. A clean house is the best way to prevent ants.

trash can

Having a Lot of Plants

Having a lot of plants is one of the biggest attractants for carpenter ants. Plants produce food for ants in the form of nectar. If you notice that ants have invaded your plants, there are a few different things you can do to get them out.

You can read more about how to deal with ants in plants here.

black ants invading a garden

Why They Keep Coming Back

You Haven’t Cleaned up Debris

If you live in a home that includes wooded areas or plenty of plant life, then it is possible that carpenter ants have taken up residence under the floorboards. These pests are notorious for being difficult to control.

There’s Still Moisture

If your home has a damp wood problem, chances are that you will have carpenter ants. These little creatures love to feed on wet wooden objects and if there is still moisture in the wood from what caused their initial infestation (i.e., roof leak), they’ll come back for more! In order to keep these insects at bay, it is important to dry out any moist areas of your property where possible as well as ensure that whatever was causing water damage or leaks no longer poses a threat by properly repairing all roofs and walls.

Any Food Left Out for Them

Carpenter ants eat a wide variety of foods, including protein-rich insects, sweet sap from live trees and shrubs, honeydew produced by aphids feeding on plant leaves. They are also known to feed on other sugary substances such as nectar or fruit juices.

If your home has carpenter ants, you can bet they’re attracted to what’s in it. Food debris and other sweet substances could be drawing them out of their nests.

Any food left out for them will only attract more bugs! If there are a lot of ants around the house or if you’ve seen some flying indoors, this is likely to blame.

How to Prevent a Carpenter Ant Infestation

Make Sure You Run a Clean House

As said, a clean house is the best way to prevent an ant infestation.

bleach cleaning to kill ants

Carpenter ants aren’t attracted to what many homeowners would call the “perfect house”. 

This means that if your home is dirty, there’s a much higher chance of ants becoming a problem. 

Be sure to wipe down counters, sweep floors, and vacuum rugs on a regular basis to avoid leaving anything in your house that could attract carpenter ants. 

Also, keep all food sealed tightly so no food that could potentially be sniffed out by the ants is lying around freely. If ants find food, they’ll leave a pheromone trail to let other ants know where they can find food.

This will lead to a lot of ants crawling around in your kitchen very fast.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

Here are the universal steps to getting rid of carpenter ants:

  • Locate the source (figure out what’s attracting them).
  • Clean up your house (so there’s nothing left to lure them in).
  • Use a chemical or natural remedy to get rid of any existing ants.
  • Call an exterminator if the ants won’t go away.

Learn more: How to get rid of carpenter ants

Locate the Source

The first step to getting rid of carpenter ants is to figure out why they’ve entered your home in the first place.

Go through the list of carpenter ant attractants. When you know why they’re entering, you’ll have a better idea of what to do to get rid of them.

Is it food? Moisture? Plants?

ants and aphids

Clean Up Your House

When it comes to getting rid of ants, one of the first things to do is always clean up any mess in your home.

If you’ve got food, crumbs, or leftovers in your kitchen, pack it up or throw it away. Do the dirty dishes. Sweep and vacuum the floor.

If you’ve got a problem in the bathroom, make sure you get rid of any pools of water in your sink or shower.

The same goes for building projects. You can’t keep it clean during the project, but make sure you clean up everything afterward. Otherwise, you might get a visit from the carpenter ant.

Red vacuum cleaner on a beige carpet

Use Pesticides or Natural Ant Repellants

After you’ve cleaned up your house, it’s time to get rid of the ants that are still roaming around in your home.

To do this, you have two options:

  • Use chemical pesticides
  • Use natural ants repellents/killers

People usually try out a natural way first, as this is safer for children and pets. This includes remedies such as cinnamon oil, vinegar, and diatomaceous earth, depending on where the ants are causing problems.

If that doesn’t work, you can always use pesticides. The most popular ones to use are either ant spray or ant bait stations. These will both poison the ants. Ant bait stations, or ant traps, are easy to use, as you simply place them around your house, waiting for the ants to crawl into the death trap.

With a spray, you have to manually spray it directly on the ants.

spray bottle to kill ants

Call an Exterminator

If nothing else works, or if the problem is bigger than you can handle yourself, a good way to get rid of ants is to call the exterminator.

These are pest control professionals, who work for a living getting rid of ants, termites, or other pests. They know what they’re doing, so you can trust that they’ll get rid of the problem for you.

ant spray and exterminator


Carpenter ants are attracted to many things such as food, food crumbs, leftovers, damp wood, moisture, as well as wood and plants.

If you want to avoid dealing with ants in your house, you should make sure your house is clean. 

If it’s already too late, and the ants have invaded your home already, you can several things to get rid of them, but the general process looks like this:

  • Locate the source
  • Clean up your house
  • Use a pesticide or natural ant repellant
  • Call an exterminator for serious problems

About Teodoro Pittman

Teodoro is a nature and animal lover. He specifically focuses on insects, such as ants, bees, and the like. In his free time, he takes care of his own ant farm, where he analyzes their behavior. Teodoro has spent the last 7 years studying the intricate behavior of these small creatures.

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