First a word of caution.
Many pest control professionals consider Carpenter ants the most
difficult pest there is to
deal with in the industry.
With all the training and experience they have, there are some
homes that take
considerable time and a number of treatments to completely eradicate
these destructive insects.
Many homeowners will call in a professional after
failed to solve the problem themselves. This situation is
usually more difficult to deal with because the
homeowner randomly sprayed pesticides killing the obvious evidence and
scattering the satellite nests. Of course this increases the cost. If you are not prepared
to spend hours in
your attic and crawl space wearing
a respirator, rubber gloves,
coveralls and a hat, then you may be wise to call a
professional to do the job properly.
You can read the advice from a Canadian Government web site
if you are determined to deal with carpenter ants yourself.
Find all of the Satellite nests in the home.
(Read about nests on the identification and life cycle page)
Try to locate the "mother" nests and the queens.
Eliminate conditions that made the home a suitable habitat
for the ants.
Treat the satellite nests with a suitable pest control
method or product.
Don't spray pesticides on ants outside the nests. Use a vacuum
cleaner inside your home.
Don't use "ant drops, ant poisons, ant traps".
Save your money for something worthwhile.
Don't squash foraging ants. Follow them.
Don't rip apart walls or ceilings to find the nests.
How to find the satellite nests:
the bottom of this page are links to educational institute web sites, each of
them displaying some very
interesting guidelines and theories about finding carpenter ant nests.
Some of the suggestions are excellent.
Some may not seem practical to an experienced pest control
professional. If you want to strictly follow the advice of the academic
community, we suggest you read the information presented by Dr. Lauren Hansen, Ph.D.
of Spokane Falls Community College. Dr. Hansen is probably the most highly
respected source of knowledge about carpenter ants among entomologists and pest control
professionals around the world. She has made a habit of putting on the
coveralls, respirator and rubber gloves to go down into dirty crawl spaces and
apply her knowledge about dealing with these pests. Dr. Hansen has hands on
experience, not just theories.
Laurel D. Hansen
Instructor in Biology
Spokane Falls Community College
3410 W. Fort George Wright Dr.
Spokane, WA 99224-5288
Areas of Interest:
I teach liberal arts transfer courses in biology and zoology at SFCC, plus
workshops in pesticide education for recertification credits and insect classes
for K-12 teachers for continuing hours. In addition, I teach a summer workshop
at EWU for K-12 teachers to use insects in teaching science.
Research interests include carpenter ant biology and management strategies.
Activities concentrate on baits for carpenter ants plus
efficacy tests for perimeter sprays and dust formulations. Laboratory
research takes place at SFCC and field work includes areas in the Spokane, Puget
Sound, and Portland.
Hansen, L.D., W.J. Spangenberg, and M.M. Gaver. 1999. The infrabuccal chamber
of Camponotus modoc (Hymenoptera:Formicidae): Ingestion, digestion, and survey
of bacteria. p. 211-219. In Robinson, W.H., F. Rettich, and G.W. Rambo (Eds.).
Proc. 3rd Internatl. Conf. Pests. 679 p.
Hansen, L.D. 1999. 1999 tests for efficacy and residual activity of TempoWP
in wall voids in carpenter ant control–continuation of tests initiated in 1997.
Pest Intelligencer, Newsletter Wash. State Pest Control Assoc. 11(4): 16-17.
Hansen, L.D. and J.H. Klotz. 1999. The name game can wreak havoc on ant
control methods. Pest Control 67(6): 66, 68.
Hansen, L.D. 2000. Successful bait development is more than a matter of
taste. Pest Control 68(5): 52, 54, 58.
Hansen, L.D. 2001. Carpenter ant infestations. PCT, Service Technician. In
Finding carpenter ant nests requires a lot of time an patience. With years
of experience, a professional will know where these nests are likely to be and
will look for evidence of frass, the junk thrown out of nests. This
is often caught up in spider webs in attics, crawl spaces, basements under decks
and around the exterior perimeter under the soffits and below the siding.
Sometimes sawdust excavated by the ants from the structure will be noticeable,
but not always.
Following ants outside the nest is
the best indication of it's location, but ants will often follow channels hidden
from the hot sun, rain and your vision. Less than 10 % of the
population will ever leave the nests so at times there are very few to follow.
Knowing whether the ant you are following is heading for food, or has already
eaten and is heading back to the nest is an indicator that some very experienced
professionals are capable of seeing.
Listen for them. If your
hearing is good and the home is very quiet you may be able to hear the
rustling and chewing noise they make. A medical stethoscope is useful but
the sound of a refrigerator or even a clock can confuse the inexperienced ear.
How to find the main nests
(and the queens):
In some locations it would be impossible to find all the main nests among the
trees, logs, stumps, buried wood and roots. Even if these nests are found,
removing them can be a monumental task. All satellite nests remain in
contact with the main nest. Workers can be seen carrying mature larvae
from the overcrowded queen's home to new or established satellites of the
colony. If you find the main nest, try to remove it physically. If
you put toxic products into it, they may leach into the ground water and
contaminate water supplies or fish habitat some distance away.
If you can not remove the nest,
try to eliminate any favorable conditions that encourage them to move toward the
home. Tree branches, fences, garden hoses, structural wood touching the
soil, landscape ties and utility wires all provide an easy route to follow.
A very fine dusting of diatomaceous earth around the perimeter base of the home
will discourage all insects from crossing it to gain entry. This is
short term and should be repeated frequently in the spring, summer and fall.
Pesticides, Poisons and Secret Formulas.
Toxic Sprays: Most pesticides
available to the public will kill any insect that they come in contact with
while still wet. Once dry, the residual effect is minimal and has
very little effect on insects.
Ant Dusts: Diatomaceous earth is sold in a variety of containers
with convincing trade names. The basic product can also be purchased in much
less expensive plain plastic bags at most garden stores.
Toxic chlorpyrifos is now off the market and illegal to use in Canada and U.S.A.
Boric Acid dust: It is very difficult to inject into a nesting cavity without
proper equipment. Do not put it in exposed areas.
Ant Poisons sold over the counter at most hardware stores have little if
any effect on carpenter ants
Ant Traps are actually not traps. The little tin cans with holes in
the side contain borax. They have no effect on carpenter ants.
Secret Formulas: If you find one that works, patent it immediately.
Scientists around the world have been searching for years for ingredients that
will attract and kill or repel carpenter ants. Some things that homeowners
have tried include cinnamon, cayenne pepper, moth balls, boric acid and icing
None of them have been proven effective.
Boric acid is probably more toxic to humans than many other registered
pesticides. Take a look at the Merk Index for boric acid and you'll
find human toxicity symptoms include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,
abdominal cramps, circulatory collapse, tachycardia, cyanosis, delirium,
convulsions, and coma. Death has occurred from <5 grams (the weight of a
nickel) in infants and from 5 to 20 g in adults. The lesson is to treat
all chemicals with respect and don't believe just because a compound is
organic or natural it is safer than a registered and thoroughly tested
substance. In fact it may be just the opposite.
Effective Control of
conditions conducive to carpenter ant infestation should be the first step.
This includes clearing away any decaying or infested wood from around
buildings and removing firewood from inside the premises and away from the
sides of buildings. If possible, decaying or infested structural wood should
be replaced with sound material. Humidity problems in the home should be
investigated and corrected. Removal of potential food sources will
discourage ants from entering buildings. This can be accomplished by keeping
food in sealed containers and by implementing good sanitary practices such
as regularly sweeping up all crumbs and other food fragments.
control methods have two major goals: elimination of existing nests and
prevention of further pest entrance. Chemical control is most effective when
used in conjunction with the above methods of physical control. It should be
noted, however, that once a colony is well established, it is usually
necessary to locate and treat the actual nest site to achieve permanent or
long-term control. In difficult instances, this job may best be left to a
webpage has been published by the
Pest Management Regulatory Agency
to provide homeowners and consumers with a relevant and useful resource
household pest management. It is intended as an informational guide only.
Links to other selected Carpenter Ant information
Pesticide recommendations on these web pages are registered for use in
some states of USA ONLY! The use of some products may not be legal in
Canada. Please check with your local regulatory official
before using any pesticide mentioned.
Non pesticide products may or may not have been proven effective.
We do not endorse any of the content on these linked web sites.
They are for information purposes only.
|Carpenter Ants: Their Biology and
Information which has been published by
Dr. Laurel Hansen, Ph.D. of Spokane
Falls Community College. Dr. Hansen conducted her research on
carpenter ant biology and behavior under the guidance of Dr. Roger Akre,
at the Department of Entomology of Washington State University.
2 good photographs and
some good line art showing carpenter
ant life cycle. Oregon State University
by Mike Potter, Extension Entomologist
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
Serving Greater Toronto
& Neighbouring Region
QPM proposes to exterminate Carpenter ants via bait method
like most other species of Ants. The worker ants not only
feed themselves but also carry the bait to the Ants in the
colony. Bait method is not
intrusive and does not require client to leave. Also it
poses no danger to the residents. Hence, the quality and
flow of life is not impacted by such bait extermination
For a no-obligation quote call