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Carpenter Ant Control


Summary: Carpenter ants can do a lot of damage to your home if gone undetected. The presence of large black ants should send an important signal that all is not well with your house.

Late at night, you get an urge for one last spoonful of ice cream before bed. So, you head to the kitchen, flip on the light and discover uninvited large black ants walking across the countertop. Instead of immediately smashing them to kingdom come, you keep your head. You've heard somewhere that if you watch where they go they often lead you directly to their nest. You figure if you find the nest you can quickly eliminate them and get back to your ice cream snack. Good thinking, Boy Wonder, except for the fact that carpenter ants often nest outdoors and only come inside to forage for food.

So, you watch and watch, until finally, all the ants have disappeared into a crack in the wall. Is now the time to blast them with that can of aerosol insecticide that's been sitting under the sink for three years? If you do, will that put an end to these midnight marauders, once and for all? My answers are œno and œno. My suggestion, if you really are keyed up to œgit er done, as they say in the south, would be to grab your best flashlight and head out into the night. This is a night-only operation because carpenter ants are most active at night.

Head to the great outdoors and find that spot along the exterior wall adjacent to where you observed the ants disappear into the kitchen wall. You're looking for the same ants to make their exit from inside the house, in a long orderly trail, from an exit hole in the side of your house, to the ground and to their nest. The final nesting spot is often the base of an older tree. If you get really lucky you may spot the trail of ants and follow them to the ultimate solution, being, of course, a treatment that will send the entire colony to their final resting place.

So, you watch and wait, wait and watch, but find no signs of trailing ants. Not a good thing. That means the ants you saw inside have set up shop inside the walls of your house. Keeping in mind these ants thrive only where moisture is present, you now have two headaches with which to deal. One is the ants and the other is locating the source of the moisture.

Now, from experience I can tell you that the moisture is often caused by a leaky roof, a clogged rain gutter or downspout, a cracked or leaking water line or heavy condensation in walls with poor insulation. Armed with this information you'll need to bring out the ladders and inspect every gutter and every downspout. Backed up water will saturate wood surfaces, leaving easy targets for the ever-searching carpenter ant. If you don't discover a problem with the gutters or downspouts, my advice would be to call in a trusted roofing specialist to have the roof fully inspected for leaks. If that doesn't do the trick it's time to call in a plumber to check water pressure to confirm the existence of a leak. And, if that doesn't work, you'll need to have a structural engineer or structural consultant evaluate the wall insulation. This often requires opening an interior wall to put an eyeball on the situation.

There you have it. I just spent several thousand of your hard-earned dollars just because you wanted some ice cream. And to top it all off with a cherry, you still need to call an exterminator to kill the remaining carpenter ants. Where's the justice?



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