7 Tips for Controlling Carpenter Ants Without Chemicals
Springtime is carpenter ant season!
Springtime is a good time of year to watch for carpenter ants. Carpenter ants are both seasonally active and nocturnal, so they can be difficult to find until the weather warms in the spring, which can bring them out in droves. Though they are generally less destructive to houses than termites, carpenter ants can cause severe structural problems if left unchecked. Here are a few things to know about carpenter ants as well as 7 tips for controlling carpenter ants without using chemical treatments.
A few identification tips
Carpenter ants are commonly confused with thatching ants, which are those ants you see in making big mounds for nests. Thatching ants can usually be distinguished from carpenter ants by a red mark. Carpenter ants are typically all black and have a rounded or convex thorax – the thorax being the middle section of the three parts that comprise an ant.
Carpenter ants like wet wood
I once inspected a house that was just 5 years old. On the 2nd floor, in the master bath, I found 1 cracked tile in the master bath shower surround. I recommended additional inspection of this tile installation by a tile setter, who discovered that the tile had been set using the incorrect adhesive. Water was getting behind the tile and carpenter ants had managed to sense this from out in the woods and had come all the way up to the 2nd floor to build a satellite colony in the bathroom of a 5-year-old house. I wish I was that good at finding wet wood!
Organic control for carpenter ants
Because carpenter ants have an amazing ability to sense wet wood, one of the best organic ways to control these ants is to eliminate, “conducive conditions.”
- Keep your house dry by ensuring gutters and downspouts are free of obstructions and draining well.
- Prune vegetation away from the house – 6 feet if possible though for most of us this is asking a lot.
- Remove rotted stumps from around the house
- Refrain from stacking firewood against the house
- Eliminate wood to soil contact around the house
- Be sure your crawl space is dry
- Do not let plumbing leaks go unrepaired. Stop the moisture as soon as possible.
A big tree like this can clog gutters and downspouts and trap moisture against the building making conditions conducive to carpenter ants.
Carpenter ants do not eat wood
Termites are an insect that can literally eat wood. They have an enzyme in their stomach that can digest cellulose. Every day you have termites in your house, you have less house. Carpenter ants do not live off of wood, they live in wood. This is an important distinction. Carpenter ants love wood they can tunnel in relatively easily such as wet wood, tongue and groove joints in car decking or a space between two boards.
What should I do if I suspect carpenter ants are in my house?
Call a pest control operator or a home inspector who is a licensed pest inspector. Most home inspectors are not pest control operators and do not apply treatment chemicals, so a home inspector who is a licensed pest inspector can give you a non-biased opinion of how to proceed and what type of insects you may be confronting in your house. Chemical treatments today can be very effective and often only require a single application and not monthly treatment.