There are over 12,000 known species of ants, and you can easily split them into just two categories: 1) annoying, but still harmless, and then 2) very destructive (and dangerous).
During warm weather months, you may find both kinds of ants inside and outside your home. Watch out, because among these ant species, there are large Carpenter ants who may have taken refuge in your home with the ultimate outcome of destroying your home from the inside out in order to build their colony up – they can also inflict painful bites. What can you do to get rid of Carpenter ants? Read on for some Pro tips.
What Are Carpenter Ants?
Carpenter ants earned their name because of the uncanny way they damage and burrow through wood, especially wood in your home and that your furniture is made of. These insect pests don’t eat wood like termites do, but they chew it and spit it out to make pathways for themselves and their colony members. You might start noticing small piles of wood shavings (a.k.a. “frass”) near your walls and around your home – that’s a pretty good sign that you have Carpenter ants that have already moved in.
Carpenter ant are quite easy to distinguish from other types of ants because of their larger size. They are usually red in color, or reddish black, sometimes brown, and sometimes all black, and they typically measure between 1/2″ to 5/8″ in length.
How Did Carpenter Ants Get Inside My Home?
Carpenter ants are crazy about damp, rotting wood, so if you have moisture issues in and around your home, that’s a good attractant for Carpenter ants. They won’t always get into your home by gnawing their way through wood, but rather they can get in through any crack or crevice, even those higher up off the ground. Carpenter ants and other pests can access your home via a nearby branch, wire, or pipes, which is why it’s so important to keep your hedges and trees near your home trimmed at least an inch to an inch-and-one-half away from the sides of the structure.
Once inside, Carpenter ants will usually set up shop near water sources, like leaky faucets, pipes, kitchens, and bathrooms, for example. The A/C unit in your home is also a popular hangout for these pests.
How Do I Get Rid of Carpenter Ants?
Carpenter ants are notoriously difficult to kill, in comparison to other ant species. Here are some things you can do to get rid of them once you’ve found them:
- Disrupt their pheromone (scent) trails. Carpenter ants (like other ants) use pheromone trails to help them and their colony mates find their way back to food and water sources. Cleanliness is always the first line of defense against any pest, and Carpenter ants are no exception: cleaning surfaces where these pests may have wandered will disrupt their trails and make it more difficult for them to find their way back to where they’ve been. Essential oils like tea tree, lemon, orange, or cedarwood on a cotton ball used to wipe down surfaces will also disrupt their trails. Maybe you want to mix up a solution of one-third dish soap to two-thirds water to pour into a spray bottle (this will also kill them if used to spray them directly, though your best strategy is to kill off the nest/colony. A half-half mixture of white vinegar and water will also disrupt their trails and kill them when applied directly.
- Mix up a bait for scout Carpenter ants to find and take back to their nest. Most ants are attracted to sweets just about any time, so mix up a bit of jam or jelly with baking soda or boric acid. You can also mix up half sugar and half baking soda/boric acid, and leave it for them in a dish they can access easily. The sugar/jam will attract them, and then the baking soda/boric acid will kill them. They’ll find it and take it back to their nest to share. This strategy will gradually diminish their numbers. This will take longer than killing them directly, but over a couple, maybe three weeks, this will be the most effective way of killing them off at their source: their nest/colony.
- Destroy their nest directly. If you are lucky enough to have found their nest (“frass” trails, or you may notice a “rustling” sound coming from inside a wall at home), you can more aggressively attempt to destroy their nest.
Boric Acid: A Natural and Easy Solution for Carpenter Ants (And Many Other Pests)
Boric acid dust is a quick, safe, and natural solution, lethal to Carpenter ants on contact, and it can be applied into tiny spaces where these pests may be hiding–it is a white odorless powder. It is also relatively harmless to humans and pets, though it is not recommended to leave a lot of it in areas accessible to pets and children in case they decide to ingest it – in small doses it can cause symptoms like stomach pain and vomiting. Boric acid dust is usually available at most hardware stores, and you can usually find it with a bulb duster/applicator included so you can puff the dust into cracks, crevices, and holes around your home’s structure.
To destroy a nest you may have encountered or suspected, it is recommended to drill 1/8″ holes about every six inches around the area where you think the Carpenter ant nest might be. Then, use your applicator to puff the boric acid into the holes. You may have to try a few treatments to destroy the nest, especially if the nest is large and well populated.
Should You Call a Professional?
Carpenter ants are no joke, and can cause permanent, dangerous, and expensive damage to your home. There are plenty of preventive steps you can take yourself, but if you are seeing Carpenter ant activity around your home, chances are you might already have a problem on your hands, and they won’t just go away. Even if you can get rid of the nest, there’s a good chance that there still might be more in your home. It’s worth your time to call a professional to ensure that the nest really is destroyed, and to check for other nests. You should definitely call a professional if you can’t find a nest, but are still seeing Carpenter ants. Call us at FullScope Pest Control today at 832-898-0190 or email us for a free home inspection and quote. Our pest control experts have the experience and know-how to get rid of your termite problems for good, and we’ll give you some tips and tricks to help keep those pesky ants from coming back anytime soon.