Spring is the time of year when carpenter ants (BIG BLACK ANTS) wake from a long winters nap in search of food and new foraging grounds. If your home has been visited by these perennial pests than you know what a nuisance they can be. If your home has ever been infested than you know the damage they are capable of.
The most common “manifestation of infestation” in a home is in an area with a moisture problem i.e.: leaky roof, leaky window, leaky pipe, leaky shower, leaky something! If the wood or void area stays moist, it’s conducive to the ants nesting in it. The first bit of carpenter ant trivia is that carpenter ants don’t eat wood, they only nest in it. Moist wood is easier to excavate and has the necessary moisture to keep the colony healthy.
Other interesting bits of carpenter ant trivia gleaned from university researchers are:
Outdoors they feed primarily on insect honeydew, plant and fruit juices and insects.
- Indoors they feed on whatever we drop on the floor or place there i.e. pet food.
- A nest can contain 3,000 or more ants.
- They will travel the length of a football field searching for food.
- They are most active at night.
- They are beneficial insects in that they are part of nature’s recycling “muscles”. In the forest, a fallen tree begins to decay and the carpenter ants give it a helping hand (six of them lol). We don’t want them infesting our homes but, we should leave them be in their natural habitat.
- They don’t have little hard hats and little tool belts.
So….what can we do to deter carpenter ants from making our home theirs?
- Repair leaky “somethings”.
- Make sure water drains away from our home.
- Clean out gutters to reduce moisture in the soffit area.
- Trim trees and shrubs so that they don’t touch our home and so that they allow air to circulate, preventing moisture retention.
- Don’t store items up against your home i.e. fire wood, building materials etc.
- Store your fire wood up and off the ground.
- Consider using stone instead of bark mulch if you live in a heavily infested/wooded area.
- Don’t allow leaves to accumulate under your deck.
If you do all the above and they still decide to ignore your efforts for a peaceful coexistence well…. you can first try one of the over the counter remedies from your local home & garden store. As always you can call on the knowledge and service of a professional pest control company. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Glenn Olesuk is the owner of Graduate Pest Solutions in Hampden, MA. He is a degreed entomologist from the Syracuse School of Forestry and has thirty years experience in residential and commercial pest control. Incidentally, His home did have termites at one time but, we’ll save that for “Termite Trivia”. You can reach Glenn and Graduate Pest Solutions at 413-566-8222.