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Carpenter Ants House

Summary: They don't wear little tool belts and don't carry miniature hammers, but carpenter ants are experts in working with wood. When carpenter ants are in your house they don't charge by the hour but instead eat by the hour, the night hours, and it's not wood that they dine on.

by Tierney O'Hara

The large, black carpenter ant has a real "sweet tooth" that causes it to seek out honey, candy, soft drinks, fruits and pet food (probably because there's always a bowl of it on the floor). Outside they eat aphid secretions and tree sap, but just like us, they'd rather a piece of candy than some aphid residue any day.

Finding a few carpenter ants in the cat's dish or a couple of winged-queens stuck to the maple syrup bottle does not mean you have an infestation of carpenter ants. Foraging ants will travel 100 yards or more from their home nest to locate the doughnut you left on the counter last night.

You'll know when you have carpenter ants in your home just the way you know when you have a carpenter in your home. First you might hear them. Although they don't eat wood, they masticate wood to form trails and nests for their ever-growing family. Enlarging the family compound to encompass more babies means lots of wood munching, so put your ear up to your walls and if you hear a sound like cellophane being crumpled, you probably have carpenter ants.

Look around for piles of sawdust where no one has been sawing or sanding. Just as sawdust is a byproduct of a carpenter's construction job, sawdust is a byproduct of a carpenter ant's destruction job. Although carpenter ants usually build their main nest outdoors near rotted wood, they soon outgrow their happy little "three-bedroom Cape" and need roomier digs, so to speak.
While the queens usually remain outdoors, the workers go indoors finding small openings in the exterior of the building, like holes where electrical wires are installed.

Carpenter ant control starts with locating the parent colony and all the satellite colonies. This isn't easy. One method of carpenter ant control is to use carpenter ant bait. This is a poison, but it tastes so good to foraging workers that they bring it back to the queens, killing the queens and her attendants. RIP.

Carpenter ants aren't happy with one nest and so create a maze of nests that are all interconnected. That means you can spray one nest with ant killer and still not kill all the ants because it is rare that all family members are ever in the same location at the same time. Destroy one nest and there's still enough cousins left to rebuild the colony and keep the family name going.

Some natural pest-control methods are sprinkling black pepper or diatomaceous earth on areas where ants have been seen. Flooding the main nest with soapy water will kill individual ants but it is not a long-term, effective method of carpenter ant control. Boric acid is another natural product that has been mentioned as a form of ant bait because it is toxic to ants.

If natural repellents and methods don't work - and honestly they aren't usually successful but are just a temporary fix - it's time to call a professional exterminator with experience in carpenter ant infestations. He or she will use the best and safest methods to rid your home of these wood-destroying pests that can cause thousands of dollars of damage to the structure of your home.
One or two carpenter ants are nothing to worry about, but when you witness swarming ants, sawdust piles and hear munching sounds in your walls, you've got a problem that needs professionally trained experts to save the structural integrity of your home before it's too late. Now go listen to your walls. Hear anything?

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