Carpenter Ant prevention, management, and treatment
First and foremost, taking the right steps to prevent a carpenter ant infestation should be taken. Those steps include:
- keeping vegetation away from the immediate vicinity of buildings,
- preventing wood-soil contact,
- ventilating to prevent moisture build-up,
- stacking wood off the ground and away from buildings,
- repairing leaks in roofs and gutters, and
- pre-treating before and during construction of new buildings.
If you’ve identified that you have a carpenter ant infestation, the information below will help in managing and controlling the problem.
Managing Carpenter Ants
The truth is that there is no single treatment that is “best” for all carpenter ant infestations. Determining the best treatment begins with correctly identifying carpenter ant damage and answering a few basic questions:
- Where are the ants actually living?
- Where are they feeding (and upon what)?
- If the carpenter ants are actually living in the building, are there any structural problems that are contributing to the carpenter ant problem (moisture problems, tree limbs touching or overhanging the house, etc.).
How accessible is the nest area for direct treatment?
Ideally, working with a trained, QualityPro certified, pest management professional is the best course of action.
The goal of any carpenter ant treatment is to deliver a precise dose of just the right insecticide into just the right place so that the ants will encounter the materials and transport it throughout the colony in the house.
The reality, however, is that even for professionals, finding the actual source of a carpenter ant infestation is a challenge, and treatment requires some guesswork, but with the proper training and experience we can control most infestations.
Treating Carpenter Ants Outside your Home
In the Pacific Northwest your house will always be susceptible to invasions by Carpenter Ants. In many cases, the carpenter ants that are seen inside of a house actually are living outside, such as in a tree, utility pole, or woodpile, and are only entering the house to get food and to establish nesting sites for their larva. In these cases, treating the home itself may or may not be necessary depending where the ants are found.
For example, if the carpenter ant nest is in a tree, utility pole, fence post, or other outdoor source, then delivering a targeted, carpenter ant specific treatment, as well as treating the exterior of the home to provide a “barrier” usually will clear up the problem. You also should clean up whatever food sources the ants were entering the home to feed upon.
Most store bought pesticides will only deliver a temporary solution and can be vary harmful to you, your family and pets, and the environment, without resolving the issue. This can also lead to increased carpenter ant damage to your home. Never use old pesticides that have been stored in your home or garage for extended periods. Again, it’s always best – for you, your home and the environment – to consult with a pest management professional before attacking your carpenter ant issue.
Treating Carpenter Ants Inside your Home
Carpenter ants nesting inside a building almost always mean that there is a moisture problem. In some cases you will have to take care of the source of moisture to make the house less attractive to the ants.
If you can see where the ants are traveling, then it is critical to place non repellant materials or in some cases special bait directly along the ants’ travel paths, as close as possible to the nest (for example, at the spot right where you see them disappearing into a wall), is often effective at controlling inaccessible carpenter ant infestations inside homes.
Professional pest control technicians often attempt to track down the exact location of a carpenter ant nest (usually in a wall void or other structural void), drill a hole into it, and deliver a material into the void through the hole to wipe out the whole colony en masse. In addition, many technicians routinely drill and treat exterior void areas because these are common hot spots for carpenter ants.
Drilling and treating is very effective if nests can be pinpointed. Non repellant low dose Insecticides can travel inside a wall void where ants are known to travel but these materials can only be applied by a trained pest control professional.
Most interior problems with Carpenter Ants are best handled on the exterior of the structure where the Ants are found entering and where the source of the nest may be.