Carpenter ants are becoming more of a pest in our homes because of the decreased use of pesticide sprays, the use of more natural building products and building houses in wooded areas. If you see carpenter ants in your house you should take steps to eradicate them before they do serious damage.
IDENTIFICATION: These ants are normally much bigger than the average ant, and are not seen foraging in great numbers. Colors vary and there may be different sizes in the same colony. All carpenter ants have a humped back with no indentation, while other ants have one or more. All ants, whether flying or not, have a very narrow waist (flying termites have no waist).
INSPECTION AND ELIMINATION: Large flying or foraging ants seen inside the home usually means the colony is inside, not outside. The surest, quickest, cheapest way to eliminate the colony is to find the nest and apply dust directly into the gallery. An inspection of the crawl space, basement, fireplace, attic, roof, gutters, windows, bathrooms, sinks, door frames, etc. is recommended.
You are looking for sawdust, dead ants, and moisture problems. If you find the water leak the ants will be there also. Tapping on the wall will excite the ants and make them start clicking which will pinpoint the nest. (Nobody wants to do this inspection, but carpenter ants often mean water leaks, and that needs to be corrected). So you did the inspection and you found nothing, now what.
Try putting out tuna packed in water (not oil) and watching them take the food back to the nest. The ants forage more actively at night. Upon finding the nest, drill several ¼ inch holes into the nest and apply Drione dust with a bellows duster. The colony will be dead within minutes. Do not apply a liquid or an aerosol, the ants will probably escape and relocate from this treatment. In some cases there are more than one colony in your house, so continue to be on the lookout for foraging ants.
CARPENTER ANT BAITS: Maxforce carpenter ant bait and Advance granular bait are available for baiting. Use both of these at the same time. Refresh bait once a week. Allow 4-12 weeks for control of the colony. Do not use baits and any kind of spray at the same time. These baits usually work, but I still recommend you find the colony and kill it with the dust. Remember that the colony is often found in conjunction with a moisture problem.
PREVENTION: Trim overhanging tree limbs and bushes. Keep the wood pile far from the house. Remove dead limbs and stumps from trees in the yard. Spray a residual insecticide such as Bifen on the outside of your house 3 times a season to keep ants from entering your home. Correct all moisture problems in your home.
As always, call us if you are stumped. Maybe a fresh look at the problem will help you find the colony.