6 Ways To Effectively Eliminate Carpenter Ants
If you’ve ever tried to get a contractor out to your house during one of Vancouver’s housing booms, you’ll know how difficult it can be. But there’s one type of carpenter in BC that’s only too happy to make house calls. Carpenter ants are an unfortunate fact of life in the lower mainland. And these ants are more than a nuisance. If left untreated, they can cause serious structural damage to your home.
So how do you deal with a carpenter ant infestation? Effective pest control in Vancouver requires prevention as well as treatment. Here are some tips to effectively eliminate carpenter ants from your home.
If you’re not sure whether you have a carpenter ant problem, give us a call today. We can help you figure out the extent of the problem and the best solution to tackle it.
Identifying The Problem
One of the things that sets carpenter ants apart from their cousins is their size. Adult carpenter ants can be up to 12 mm in length - that’s half an inch! This makes them one of the biggest ant species found in BC.
But despite their size, carpenter ants can be surprisingly difficult to detect. Partly this is because they often do a lot of their foraging and nest building activity at night. Another reason is because of their habit of nesting in wood which gives them their name. Sometimes, the first clue that you have a carpenter ant problem is the presence of small piles of very fine sawdust, known as frass. Unlike termites, Carpenter ants don’t eat wood. Instead, they carve galleries out of it to make their nests. As a result, they need to eject the sawdust, and this can be a vital clue as to where the colony is.
Keep Them Out
A big part of effective pest control is preventing a problem from developing in the first place. Take a look at your house from an ant’s perspective. Are their gaps around doors, windows, vents or ducts? Are there any cracks in the foundation of your home? All of these can be points of entry for carpenter ants. Seal up any gaps or cracks with weatherproof caulking to keep ants out of your home.
Clear Out The Wood
Carpenter ants love to build their nests in wood. Their powerful jaws are perfectly capable of carving through solid wood, but it’s easier for them to form a colony in decayed or rotten wood. Carpenter ants have multiple nests, but only a single queen. The queen will generally live outdoors, nesting in rotten wood with high humidity to lay her eggs. So take a look around your property. Pay attention to anywhere wood comes into contact with soil. That old tree stump or rotten fence post is just asking to become a home for colony of carpenter ants. And if you have a woodpile close to the house, move it or get rid of it. These are all perfect places for carpenter ants to nest.
Remove Food Sources
In the wild, carpenter ants feed on other insects and also on the sweet body fluids produced by animals such as aphids. Unfortunately, the human diet is also rich in the proteins and sugars that carpenter ants crave. Making sure there’s no food that the ants can access inside your home will help to make your property less attractive to them. Keep food sealed up in plastic containers wherever possible. Wipe up spills immediately, especially sugary liquids. Give the ants no reason to come into your home, and you’re less likely to have a problem.
Prevention is all very well. But once the ants are inside your home, especially if they’ve established a satellite nest indoors, you’re going to need to take more aggressive measures. If you’re not comfortable using pesticides in your home, there are a few less toxic options available to you. Diatomaceous earth is available at hardware stores, and can be useful in controlling an ant problem. This fine powder illustrates the exoskeleton of any ants that try to cross it, causing them to dehydrate and die. For this reason, it can be an effective barrier to ants trying to cross it. But remember that this will only kill or repel foraging ants, I won’t do much to the nest itself. Furthermore, ants travel in three dimensions. A perimeter dusting of diatomaceous earth around your home can help keep ants out, but it may not be the long-term solution you’re looking for.
Treating The Nest
A carpenter ant queen can live for 15 years and have 70,000 eggs in that time. So you can kill all the foraging ants you want, but if the queen survives, she can just make more. So to truly eliminate carpenter ants, it’s necessary to find and destroy the parent's nest.
This is more difficult than it sounds. Carpenter ants have multiple nests and some types of carpenter ants, multiple queens, and these nests can be hundreds of feet apart. So it’s possible for you to have a nest on your property that is part of a larger colony whose queen lives somewhere else entirely. Just finding a carpenter ant nest is a skill all of its own.
However, if you do find a nest, it’s possible to treat it directly with pesticide. There are numerous products on the shelves of any hardware store that will kill ants on contact. The hard part is getting that pesticide deep into the nest where the queen and the juvenile ants, called the brood, maybe living. This often requires specialist equipment and chemicals that the public don’t have access to. It’s possible to make a Carpenter ant problem worse with an ineffective pesticide treatment. When the ants feel their nest is threatened, they will grab the eggs and run, which can simply shift the problem to another area of your home.
If you’re having a problem with carpenter ants, don’t think it will go away by itself. Over time, the galleries that these ants bore through wood can weaken the structure of your home. And these ants are some of the most difficult to treat. Give the professionals at Westside Pest Control a call today and get expert advice on eliminating carpenter ants from your home.