Detect and eliminate carpenter ants for a cleaner home

Notice any creepy crawlers scurrying around? Detect and eliminate carpenter ants to protect your home.

Detect and eliminate carpenter ants for a cleaner home

Carpenter ants have a name that suggests they’re good guys (carpenters make things – that’s good, right?) but they can actually be a scourge to home owners. Even a tiny house has innumerable metres of lumber in it, and carpenter ants nest in wood, especially moist wood. Not only that, they can create satellite colonies, meaning they can spread throughout a house in a short time. Eliminating them is a priority.

Generally, carpenter ants:

  • Are red-to-black colour
  • Have a segmented and oval abdomen and a boxy, thin thorax
  • Have a smooth even curve to the thorax
  • Measure up to 1.5 centimetres long
  • Have antennae but not wings

How to know if you have them

Carpenter ants can be found inside or outside a wood structure. Sometimes their colony will be outside and they’ll travel in and out of the house foraging. They use small cracks or openings in the foundation or entryway to get in. Inside your house, look for what’s known as frass, which looks like wood shavings and is leftover material from excavating their tunnels. (Another clue: frass can include dead ants.)

How to eliminate them

  • If you suspect a colony is small or is easily accessible, you may be able to use a vacuum cleaner to suck the ants out, eliminating the colony. Be sure to immediately and carefully dispose of the vacuum’s waste or bag so any surviving ants can’t escape.
  • You can also try insecticide products found at hardware stores, such as ant traps. Many of these feature bait the ants take to the colony, and can be slipped under appliances and into cupboards and crawl spaces.
  • You should always use caution when handling insecticide products, especially if young children are in the house. They may think the insecticide can or module is a toy.
  • You can also use more aggressive ant-killing products, such as sprays. These also require care if children or pets are around.
  • If you think a colony has burrowed throughout the wood your house, hold off before you break out the saw. Most or all of a house’s support structure is wood, and cutting into it without thinking a few steps ahead could result in structural damage, compounding your problems considerably.
  • Take care if you are going mano-a-mano with live carpenter ants. Although the risk is likely low, they will bite to defend themselves. The bite itself, and an acid they can spit into the wound, can be very painful. So always wear long sleeves and gloves.

Hopefully your carpenter ant problem is a small one, and by using insecticide traps, baits or a vacuum your problem will quickly be over. If not, your next step should be to contact a professional exterminator.

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