Image by Tim Gage
By Molly Lavins
Carpenter ants may be may be small in stature, but carpenter ant damage can be destructive. Carpenter ants are active during spring and summer months. They nest in moist wood inside and outside, often in rotting wood, behind bathroom tiles, around sinks, tubs, showers and dishwashers. They also may inhabit hollow spaces in doors, curtain rods, foam insulation, etc. Humidity is necessary to sustain their eggs, but it is possible to find satellite nests that are not in moisture laden areas where some of the colony can reside. Let’s find out more about how to get rid of carpenter ants.
Carpenter Ant Damage
Carpenter ants do not eat wood. They remove wood as they create tunnels and galleries for their nests. Their primary food sources are proteins and sugars. They feed on living and dead insects outdoors. They are attracted to honeydew, which is a sweet liquid produced by aphids and scale insects. Indoors, carpenter ants feed on meat and sweets, such as syrups, honey and sugar.
Carpenter ants tree damage is caused primarily by the ants burrowing tunnels to build their nests. They do not harm trees, but their excavating further compromises wood that already is soft and weakened.
How Do I Get Rid of Carpenter Ants?
There is no easy way to get rid of carpenter ants. Most importantly, the only way to get rid of carpenter ants is to find and destroy their nest. Outside, look for carpenter ants tree damage and activity in rotting wood, stumps or wooden structures. Inside, nests and carpenter ant damage are more difficult to find.
If you lay out bait, you can follow the ants back to their nest. They are most active between sunset and midnight. Ants do not see the color red, so the best way to track them is to cover a flashlight with a red film and follow their activity at night.
Home Remedies for Carpenter Ants
Professional exterminators are the most reliable source for getting rid of carpenter ants because they have insecticides that are not available to the public. However, if you would rather tackle the problem yourself, understand that there is no easy way to get rid of carpenter ants.
If a nest is exposed, spray insecticide directly onto the nest to kill the colony.
If the nest cannot be located, bait food with a combination of 1% boric acid and 10% sugar water. Worker ants eat the baited food and share it with the rest of the colony through regurgitation. This is a slow process and could take weeks to months. Do not put insecticide directly on the food because it will kill the worker ants before they return and share the food with the colony.
If the nest is behind a wall, the boric acid can be sprayed through the electrical outlet into the wall void. Ants travel along electrical wires and will be exposed to the boric acid. Caution: Use care when using this method to avoid electrical shock.
Carpenter ants are persistent, but if you are patient, you can eliminate them from your home and property.