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Building Is Not Their Specialty

Carpenter ants do not eat wood; they chew the wood to create a nest for the colony. The nests, sometimes called galleries, are made when the ant bites off the wood and carries the waste outside the nest. Finding out how to treat carpenter ants can sometimes be difficult. You can determine if you have carpenter ants rather than termites by examining the wood damage. Carpenter ants chew the wood across as well as with the gain, whereas termites chew with the grain. Termites also line the nest with mud whereas; the carpenter ant nest will be clean of any mud or debris.

Although carpenter ants are among the largest ant species, size is not a good way to identify the ant. Carpenter ants vary in size, even among the ants of one colony. Your county agent or a pest control specialist can tell you if you have an infestation of carpenter ants. You can also tell if you have a carpenter ant problem by the habitat and habits of the ants.

Carpenter ants usually emerge in the spring and forge throughout the summer and fall. They hibernate during winter in the nest to avoid the extreme cold. Outside, they can be found in hardwood trees, leaving the nest shortly after sundown in search of food. You can find them in small groups during the day, but the largest numbers are active at night. They use the same trails (semi-permanent) over and over again and often year after year if the nest has gone undetected. Carpenter ants also follow man-made guides such as concrete walls or along sidewalk edges if the trail leads to food.

Carpenter ants can establish a nest inside a home as well as outdoors. Inside your home, they tend to nest in moist wood. Wood can become damp from a leaky facet or from exposure to the elements. Damp wood can be found beneath a kitchen cabinet, in a bathroom behind the shower, or under a tub. Also, behind walls where a pipe might leak, around the dishwasher, hot water heater, or anywhere else that wood might come in contact with water in and around your home. Damp environments are suitable for carpenter ants because damp, moist wood is easier to chew than hard, dry wood. Outside, carpenter ants nest in hardwood trees, but some species will nest in wood or debris found lying on the ground.

If a nest is inside the home, you can watch and follow the ants. Eventually, the ants will lead you to a crack or crevasse where they are either nesting or entering the home from the outside. Near the nest site, you can find small particles of wood, which is the debris, created during nest building. You may also find parts of the dead insects they carried to the nest and devoured.

You may discover that the ants are nesting outside in a tree and only invading your home in search of food. To get rid of carpenter ants inside your home you will want to use gel baits and dust. Whether you use a spray, gel, or dust, you need not apply it to a broad area inside the home. Apply the gel where you see ants forging or entering the structure. The gel has a sweet odor, which attracts ants. Do not apply an insecticide over the gel because it will ruin the sweet odor. Do not use on counter tops or where you might wipe the gel off because it does not have a residual affect. Use it as bait in cracks, crevices, corners, and along baseboards, under the sinks, and anywhere you have visibly seen the ants travel. The gel often remains attractive to ants for a week or two. A dust has a residual effect and can be carried back to the nest, thereby eliminating the colony. If the dusting insecticide is not in a bottle suitable to reach into cracks, you may want to purchase a duster that can apply the product in hard to reach areas. With a hand duster you depress the container and shoot the dust into tiny crevices behind walls, under appliances, and around tiny cracks where the ants are entering the home.

Finding the nest can sometimes prove difficult. If so, you can still rid the area of the ants by placing baits (gels, powders, or granules) along the forging trails. Liquids, powders and gels are effective indoors and granular baits are effective outdoors. Granular baits can be set in small piles next to the ant trails where the ants have been seen. Once the ants find the granules, they will carry the insecticide back to the nest.

Perimeter treatments are used for keeping ants out of a structure. To treat the perimeter, use a water-based liquid insecticide. Create a barrier by spraying 3 feet up the wall of the structure and from the foundation 4 or 5 feet out, covering everything in that range, including plants, trees, and bushes. You may also want to spray the base of trees where the ants have been found. To keep the perimeter protected you will want to reapply the insecticide every 6 weeks or after a heavy rain during the warm seasons.

To keep carpenter ants out of your home, eliminate moisture by repairing leaks. Replace water-damaged wood and install a vapor barrier if you have a crawl space beneath your house. Clean rain gutters and spouts to keep water away from the structure. Cut tree limbs away from the structure to eliminate easy access from the tree to your home.

The carpenter ant infestation will continue and the colony will grow unless you eliminate the damp wood and apply insecticides. The key to effective treatment is to find the nest or at least place baits near the nest so it can be carried back to the colony. You want to eliminate carpenter ants inside a structure or in hardwood trees, because carpenter ants donít build, they destroy wood whether it is you home or your favorite oak tree in the backyard. Needing to know how to treat carpenter ants? Contact for your pest control products.

About the Author: Dennise Brogdon is the managing editor of the Hughston Health Alert, a quarterly, patient-information newsletter, and she is an editorial assistant for the National Athletic Trainersí Associationís scientific journal, the Journal of Athletic Training. Dennise is a Web site copywriter and editor. She has experience writing and editing SEO copy and META tags, brochures, advertorials, video scripts, and other technical and promotional material, as well. Dennise earned a BA in English with professional writing as an emphasis at Columbus State University. She is a member of the American Medical Writers Association and the Georgia Writers Association.

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