While carpenter ants might seem insignificant and harmless, the collective damage they can cause can’t be understated. Larger than most ant species, these critters love wood (as their name suggests). As such, they’re known to establish colonies in the wooden frames of houses, where they cut galleries and weaken a wood’s strength. Not only does this mean the occasional run-in with a carpenter ant scurrying across your living-room floor, it can be dangerous as well.
To help you get rid of carpenter ants in your home, we’ve compiled the following list:
1. Look For Sawdust Trails
Knowing that carpenter ants are in your home isn’t enough. If you want to get rid of them, you will need to pinpoint the location of their nest.
Since carpenter ants dig through wood, they often leave sawdust trails leading back to their nest. Look for these sawdust trails and use them to locate a nest. Nests might be quite large, and there could even be more than one. Because of this, it is important to be thorough and make a note of any suspicious trails.
2. Listen For Crunching Noises
Carpenter ants can be quite noisy while they work their way through the wood in your home. By listening carefully, you might be able to hear them at work and locate their nest. Try listening closely at floor level or near exterior walls to hear their mischievous behaviour.
3. Use Boric Acid
Once you’ve located the nest of these uninvited guests, it’s time to deal with them. Boric acid (also called hydrogen borate) is easy to get and can be used as a natural insecticide. This acid usually exists in the form of a white powder containing colorless crystals.
While it is generally safe for humans, infants and people with certain health conditions shouldn’t inhale boric acid.
Mix three tablespoons of boric acid in a cup of warm water; add half a cup of sugar to attract the ants. Put the solution in a dish near the ant’s nest. You may also soak cotton balls in this solution and place them near the nest for the ants to feed on.
4. Try White Gravel
White gravel can be used around your house to control carpenter ants and other insects. Carpenter ants hate white gravel because it is very dry and dusty. White gravel serves as a natural barrier against ants. Using white gravel can be enough to deter them from entering your home.
5. Take the Battle Outside
If you’ve searched the inside of your home for carpenter ant nests, and turned up nothing, then their nest is probably outside. Some good places to check are old stumps, piles of firewood, or decaying lumber.
Evidence of a nest should be fairly clear, and you shouldn’t need to dig very deep.
If your carpenter ant problems are coming from outside, there are steps you can take to address the issue. Begin by applying a barrier insecticide outside your home to keep the ants away. Next, find the nest and apply an insecticide directly. For a more environmentally friendly approach, you can drench the nest with boiling water. There might be several carpenter ant nests around your house, so you’ll have to find them all to solve the problem.
6. Place a Bait, Then Spray
Because carpenter ants are capable of surviving several months without eating, luring them away from their nest is often not an ideal solution. Still, placing sweet baits near the entrance of their nest might draw some out. If you manage to lure some ants out, spraying them and their nest with an insecticide can reduce their numbers. Don't expect too much though, as most carpenter ant nests are very deep. As such, the insecticide may be able to poison the entrance of the nest, but will not penetrate deep enough to kill the eggs.
7. Drill Holes
If you notice more than twenty winged ants exiting your home in late spring, then you likely have a large colony in your home. In this situation, it's a good idea to up your game.
To do so, drill holes into the wall of your house to penetrate their nest. Once this is complete you can dust the nest directly with boric acid or spray it with an insecticide. Of course, it is important to be very careful when drilling holes into your house. You must know where to drill to minimize damage. If you’re unsure, this approach is best left to a professional. Once the nest has been dealt with in this way, you must repair the holes to prevent future infestation.
8. Hire a Professional
If you're dealing with a large or troublesome colony of carpenter ants, then it's best to hire ant control professionals to help. Schedule an initial inspection with a prospective pest control company. Once you find a company you trust, they will work with you to develop a treatment strategy. Ensure that you schedule a follow-up inspection about a month after the ants have been dealt with. This is the only way to tell if the ants are gone for good.
The best pest control professionals perform thorough inspections. Tell them where you've seen ants before so they can quickly locate the nest. Once the agent determines the location of the nest, they will probably drill holes and treat the area with insecticide.
Renters should notify their landlords of carpenter ant problems as soon as possible. Emphasizing the danger that these insects pose to the structural integrity of the house should encourage your landlord to quickly address the problem.
9. Care for Your Property
You can discourage carpenter ants from making nests on your property in a number of ways. Remove any dead tree stumps or piles of wood and keep the lawn well-trimmed. You should keep tree branches, bushes, and other plants away from your house. Cut any of these back if they are getting too close. Your house's wooden frame also shouldn't make contact with wet soil. Fill any gaps or cracks in your foundation to prevent carpenter ants from getting in.
Getting rid of carpenter ants can be a real pain. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to contact a professional. When it comes to something as valuable and important as your home, it is always better to be safe than sorry.