Sunday, March 22, 2015

Damn! Carpenter Ants in the Attic

Big ass carpenter ants in the attic. See those giant black ants on the left side where I have not insulated yet.

 Here let's blow it up for you. Now you see them?

Carpenter ants (probably these are black carpenter ants - Camponotus pennsylvanicus) don't eat wood like termites do, but that can be equally destructive because they nest in wood, particularly wet wood. There shouldn't be any way the wood is wet in the attic. I don't see any evidence of that, but I am wondering what the hell are those guys doing in my attic. They may not have a nest within the home, but where there is damp rotting wood. They apparently eat insects. They even farm aphids and eat the sugary material that aphids give off. I think that is why the ant are located at this eave because it's below the a louvered area where insects entered my home. 

Now I have to figure out how I want to get rid of them. Here are the options that seem reasonable to me:
1. Follow the trail of the ants to their nest to kill them there. 
2. Use a bait with a slow-acting poison so they take the poison back to the nest and kill off the rest of the colony.
3. Dust boric acid or diatomaceous earth along the edges of my home to kill them with more "natural" insecticides.
4. Treat the area around my house with an insecticide. 
5. Call a pest control company.

After crawling around an attic for days and days, I'm not going to "follow ants to their nest". I know the most likely places for nests around my house. There is some wood at the base of my house that needs to be disposed of. They often nest in areas like that. And I have a doghouse that is not raised off the ground, I suspect they are nesting under that doghouse. I'll work on those areas first by eliminating the wet wood and treating with boric acid.

If that doesn't work, then I will go with a bait I can buy online that sounds promising and not too environmentally destructive - the Complete Ant Bait Kit from Do Your Own Pest Control.

If that doesn't eliminate my ants in the attic, then I'll treat the area around my house with an insecticide and possibly call a pest control company. I don't like that idea though. I want to try the more benign forms of control first.

For a funny, interesting story on battling carpenter ants in a renovated barn, read Joe Lstiburek's article on the Building Science web page called Leiningen versus the Ant Redux.  He's a major engineering guru in building science who is controversial, funny, and very knowledgeable. You'll enjoy it. 

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