Most people don't think about carpenter ants until they are told the bad news. Sometimes a homeowner sees ants and suspects a problem which is later confirmed by a pest control operator. Often carpenter ants are discovered during the inspection prior to the sale of a house. Usually the result is the application of pesticides both inside and around the outside of the home. |
The shock caused by the discovery of carpenter ants often leads to premature and ill-considered decisions. Despite your vivid image of thousands of ants literally eating your house, the fact is that you probably have plenty of time. Don't panic! There may not even be a nest inside the home.
There is no easy way to get rid of carpenter ants. Most importantly, the only way to get rid of carpenter ants is to find and destroy their nest. Inside house, nests and carpenter ant damage are more difficult to find.
The best way to control carpenter ants is to find and destroy the nests. This is often easier said than done. Recent studies have shown that carpenter ants follow distinct scent trails between the satellite colonies and the parent nest. Carpenter ants also rely on scent trails to recruit their nestmates to food. With patience and a little effort, homeowners can use this trailing behavior displayed by carpenter ants to locate and eliminate the nests.
Even if a nest is located, continue the search. There may be several colonies connected by trails, and you must locate the parent colony in order to get good control. Look for these trails or furrows in the grass which may lead to nests outside the house in woodpiles or stumps. Nests have also been found in stacks of newspapers or shingles. Carpenter ants cannot live in a well-functioning compost pile, however, because of the heat generated. Don't neglect tree branches touching the house, which may act as ant bridges. Ants may also use plumbing and wiring to gain entry.
Treat wall voids and other hidden spaces where ants are entering by carefully drilling a series of small (1/8 inch) holes and puffing boric acid (available at most hardware stores) into the suspected nest areas. The boric acid powder will disperse in the hidden void and contact and kill the ants. If you suspect the nest is in a wall, drill and treat at least 3-6 feet on either side of where ants are entering so as to maximize the chances of contacting the nest. Carpenter ants prefer to travel along wires, pipes and edges. If you suspect the nest location is in a wall, also treat behind pipe collars and behind
A chemical pesticide is always the last resort, but chemical controls are often required for carpenter ants. Usually these chemicals are applied by professional applicators.Finally, try to find a company that is willing to do more than just apply chemicals. They should identify structural problems that may be attracting carpenter ants or allowing entry. A pest control company should be able to caulk or otherwise block entry holes, and they should indicate carpentry or masonry repairs that would help prevent a repetition of the problem.
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