Homeowners may be concerned if they see carpenter ants inside. But, seeing carpenter ants inside the home does not necessarily mean the house is actually infested. It could mean the house is simply within foraging distance of a colony. |
Carpenter ants don't always need a moist area to nest. They may use an old abandoned nest or wood "hollowed out" by termites. Nests also may be located in hollow doors, small void areas produced during construction or even in foam insulation.
In the construction of their nest, carpenter ants hollow out dead tree limbs, logs, posts, landscaping timbers and wood used in homes and other structures. They can also live in creosote-treated railroad ties because they don't actually eat the wood, but only chisel it with their mouth parts. Carpenter ant galleries are smooth and very different from termite feeding, which has mud packed into the hollowed out area.
Build the Appropriate Control
Because carpenter ants live in colonies, a treatment which targets the colony will be most effective. Finding the colony is important. Look for the piles of sawdust to locate the entrance. Another method to find the colony is to watch the movement of foraging ants. They are most active at night. Inspect the entire structure and surrounding grounds, because the nest may be outdoors.
Once you find the colony, pest control strategy depends on where it is. If the colony is in a tree, you can use a dust insecticide labeled for use on trees in the landscape. Apply the dust directly into the nest cavity.
If the colony is in a wall void, you may need to place an insecticide inside the wall. Do not use liquid insecticides inside wall voids. Introduce the dust into the nest through the entrance hole using hand duster with a tube with a tip which fits snugly in the entrance. It may be necessary to enlarge the hole to fit the duster. You can make a duster from a flexible plastic bottle equipped with a tube tip. An old mustard or Ketchup bottle might work for this use. Fill the bottle no more than one-third full, insert the tip in the entrance hole and inject the dust by alternately squeezing and releasing the pressure on the bottle. Unfortunately, there aren't very many over-the-counter dust products available for homeowners. It may be money well spent to hire a pest control professional who has a greater arsenal of products at his/her disposal and proper application equipment.
Dust formulations registered for use in and around the home include Drione® (pyrethrins), Tempo® (cyfluthrin), Deltadust® (deltamethrin). These are marketed for the professionals and not readily available in retail outlets. Another useful dust formulation is Apicide® (carbaryl). It is a product made to control bees and wasps in wall voids, but, because it is labeled for wall void treatments, it can be used for these situations. It is important to make sure these wall void treatments won't come into contact with humans or pets. Be sure to store any leftover insecticide in its original container with the label intact and throw away the make-shift duster so it doesn't get used around food.
Transfer liquid insecticides. There are newer insecticides which do not kill insects immediately, but become transferred to other members of the colony. Termidor®, an insecticide used for termite barrier treatment, has been shown to have this "transference effect." It is labeled for treating trails and entry points where ants enter the home so it may be useful for some carpenter ant infestations. But, according to labeled directions, Termidor® can only be used twice a year for treatments like this, so it should not be used indiscriminately. It cannot be used inside the home. This is a product labeled for use only by licensed structural pesticide applicators.
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