Carpenter ants are one of most common dwellers in moist areas of house. They get their name from their ability of nest building. Their prime attack is one the wood material and before you know, they will dig large holes in the wood planks.
If you think they feed on wood then you are sadly mistaken. They don’t eat wood but only chew it and through to create their living space.
They cause as much damage to the wood as termites and other pests. If you think you can manually remove one as it strikes your sight then beware because these creepy creature bite too.
One more annoying thing about these ants is that they tend to travel in pack. Once you come across an ant, within no time, there will be an entire family on mission to chew down the wood. Rather, I would say that these are not families but colonies of ants working overtime to screw your work.
If you are a woodworker then these ants could cause you excessive damage, unless you take some measures to get rid of them. As soon as your find your place infested, start with taking measures to get rid of this problem. In this article, I will try to cover all the issues related to these ants and how you can get rid of them altogether.
- How To Identify A Carpenter Ant?
- What are the Signs of Infestation?
- Home-Based Methods of Getting Rid of Carpenter Ants?
How To Identify A Carpenter Ant?
There are plenty of ant species and not all of them are as harmful as the carpenter ants. You should know that not all the ants have a habit or ruining your home settings or work place.
From their basic nature, you can tell if a specific category of ant is troublemaker or not. You can identify them easily as they are the biggest kind. The length is between 6 – 12 millimetres.
This is not it. There are other ways to identify these creatures. You can start by checking their waist as these have one node on this area while other ant species possesses two nodes. Plus, they have rounded thoraxes unlike other species that have narrow thoraxes.
Before you decide to take some serious measures, it is important to check for all these features in an ant. The color of these little monsters can be black or blackish-red. Its not uncommon to mistake them with other species.
Furthermore, the carpenter ant category doesn’t usually fly. However, a very mature one might fly as well. If you spot a flying ant, make sure it has yellow wings. This is another essential factor to determine if a certain type is a carpenter ant or not. Another interesting fact about these ants is that the male ant, after mating with a female ant die. This way, the female ant becomes the queen of the nest.
What are the Signs of Infestation?
As I have mentioned earlier, these ants like to travel in packs. You will easily spot them in the workshop. However, if that isn’t the case then the appearance of little openings on the face of wood will be a huge giveaway.
When they will chew and throw the residue outside, you will find a lot of debris in form of sawdust and fragments of insulation. When you find the debris collected below where you found the holes, this is a key indicator of recent infestation.
The gallery walls created by these ants are smooth and looks like sand-papered. They are also big on cleaning the holes where inhibiting. Also, these ants prefer attacking the wood softened by fungus and have moisture problems. Therefore, as a carpenter, you are advised to not have excessive moisture in the workshop.
Home-Based Methods of Getting Rid of Carpenter Ants?
The methods that I am going to discuss first does not require any special shopping. These are some preliminary methods to get rid of a small attack:
Understandably, these methods are a bit gruesome but at the same time, these are essential to get rid of these nasty little things.
Boiling water in that case is your instant escort. As soon as you see an active infestation or holes in the wood, take some water and boil it. You should pour the water directly on the holes so that the ants hiding inside come out for rescue.
Most of these ants will die because of the boiling hot water. Since this is a watchful task, make sure to exercise it with caution.
In the hot water, you can also use some detergent, natural insecticide or soap as it will make the approach more effective. You might need to repeat the process a couple of times to get rid of the ants completely. However, there is also a slight shortcoming of this method that this will create more moisture in your workshop which actually attracts the insects. Make sure to ventilate the place effectively.
Who must have thought that the essential oil that your wife uses so dearly is equally useful on carpenter ants? Just like any other ant species, the carpenter ants also use pheromone trails to communicate and navigate. This is their method of finding food.
Essential oils can be used to break the communication and while they are separated in smaller groups, you can easily handle them one at a time.
As far as the variants of the essential oils are concerned, you can use clove, cedarwood, lemon oil, tea tree, orange, lemongrass, peppermint, etc.
To use, you need to pour some oil on a cloth piece or kitchen towel. Now, clear the most prone spaces of the house like windowsills, perimeters, countertops, or any other potential entry. You can see the effects after first usage but the application should be continued till you see total change. Since essential oils are very expensive, you can dilute them with other carrier oils that don’t have fragrance of their own. This way, you can create an in-house ant-killing spray.
Sugar and Baking Soda
There is no species of ant in the world that can neglect the invitation to sugar or any other sweet. Therefore, you can create a bait and lure the ants into a trap. This will include a mixture of baking soda and powdered sugar.
Create the mixture and pour it in small dishes to place them close to all entry points or more traffic prone area. You can also place them near windows and doors. While the sugar will be an inviting component, baking soda on the other hand will suffocate the ants and eventually kill them.
Did you know that dishing soap is also deadly to the carpenter ants? These are the two highly common ingredients you can find in kitchen. Mix one part of dishwashing soap with two parts of water and shake them well.
Once the mixture is ready, you can spray it at every spot where there could be possible entry to the ants. Also, wherever you sight their colonies, make sure to spray on them. It will instantly kill the ants. You should continue with the treatment will they decide to quit your place permanently.
Most people have vinegar at home and to your knowledge, it is one of the best carpenter ant killer that you can use for effective results.
First of all, the vinegar will disrupt their trails and the smell is too harsh to inhale that they wouldn’t want to come back.
You don’t have to spray vinegar directly on the ants but take a mixture of water and vinegar in 1 to 1 ratio and pour it in a spray bottle. You can also use apple cider or white vinegar as well as they both share similar properties.
Once you have the mixture, start by spraying on the baseboards, window sills, and door frames from where they might let themselves in. You should also pour it directly on their nests.
You should repeat the process a couple of times till ants decide to go back from wherever they have come. Trust me, they won’t be able to survive the attack of vinegar at all. On the other hand, vinegar is a natural cleansing agent. Wherever you will spray the mixture, you will get spotless clean space.
Diatomaceous earth is a natural pesticide made from crushed algae fossils. This is an abrasive material used to damage the ant’s exoskeleton as soon as they come in contact with it. This will lead to killing of the ants as well. You can start by spreading the DE solution throughout the target area, probably directly on the ants and as soon as they consume it, they will die and you can clear out the bodies.
Cinnamon & Cinnamon Oil
The cinnamon and cinnamon oil is a natural way to prohibit the entry of ants in the house. They don’t just break the trails but also have the potential to kill them. You can use it on the countertops, baseboards, near doors, windowsills, etc. and it will never allow the ants to enter the premises of your house. You might have to make repeat application everyday for this method to work effectively.
If you think you need something harsh and more result-oriented then go with any non-toxic insecticide from countertop. You can treat the ants both inside and outside.
The non-toxic inside insecticide can be used as a contract killer and repellent as well. The outside insecticides are more toxic and generate rapid results.
So, these are some potential methods to get rid of carpenter ants without having to undergo an expensive and harsh repellent program.
Preventive Measures of Carpenter Ants
The notion, prevention is better than cure is very significant and it applies in the ant situation as well. You just have to follow some strict guidelines and methods to prevent their infestation at the first place. Please note that carpenter ants, just like ant’s other category comes out in warmer months when their survival inside the ground becomes too unbearable due to the heat. Therefore, such are the months that require more care from you. Some preventive measures will take you long way and prevent the infestation.
Sanitization of the Space
Tell me if I am wrong, have you ever seen ants (any species for that matter) accumulating in clean house or work settings? Well, if you maintain your house and focus on the details then it is not difficult to keep the carpenter ants at bay.
Ants are living things and they like settling in places where they can have instant access to food. If you often leave food out in living room or kitchen, it won’t be too late to sight these ants in the neighbouring areas.
You have to stop leaving the food out. The ants can smell food from a great distance. That is why, it is quite easy for them to track it down and bring the entire colony for a party.
If you keep your living or workspace free of any food lying around then the ants won’t be enticed to be there at the first place. You can keep the food inside the air tight containers and never leave the bread crumbs resting on the kitchen counter. If not needed, simply put them in the dustbin.
Plus, if you have used sweet spreads like jams or honey, make sure you wipe it down. As mentioned earlier, carpenter ants are fascinated to sweets and they won’t be able to resist but find it an open invitation.
Also, you should make sure to keep the house very clean and tidy. I have mentioned some great ant repellent in the content above. If you don’t want to buy chemicals from market then you can simply make a repellent and during summer season when the probability of ants is increased, simply spray it on the openings every now and then. It could be the kitchen flooring, window panels, or countertops where you should spray. Since these repellents are made from food products like vinegar or baking soda, you will not have any problem using them in the kitchen.
Locking the Moisture
The carpenter ants mostly settle in moist areas. You should know that moisture in house is not good overall. It can damage the environment and pollute air as well.
If you have moisture in house then make sure to fix it. Whether there is some plumbing issues or leaking roofs, you need to take immediate action towards that. Any delay in fixing the moisture problem will not just worsen the environment overall but also makes an invitation to carpenter ants.
Also, if there is moisture wood outside the house then try to get rid of it or fix it as soon as possible to prevent ants. There are other locations to target like AC units, sprinklers, clogged drainage, or sprinklers etc. as the most focusable areas. Also, if there is any log or lumber wood in the house, make sure to determine there is no moisture in it.
There are various other things you should keep in mind to prevent the accumulation of carpenter ants.
This is also related to keeping hygiene like keeping the dishes clean. You see, if you keep the dishes in the sink uncleaned, it will be very easy for ants to discover and make a visit while you are asleep. Hope you don’t want to wake up to this sight.
This cake is most likely if there is an active infestation in house, somewhere close to the kitchen area. If there is no trouble of ants in the house then they are probably not going to smell food from distance and lurk inside the dishes.
The next thing is to free the trash regularly. Trash can is also another very popular places for ants to prefer visiting. Either you have a sealed trashcan where there is no access to ants.
If there is any food spilled on the ground or counter top, make sure to immediately wipe it with a wet cloth. Your kitchen countertop should be spotless clean most of the time. Otherwise, it won’t just cause ant problem but also create debris in living environment.
Another thing you can work on is the cracks, crevices, and holes in the house from where they can get an entrance. You need to seal all these places very effectively.
If you see any nested places in the house or yard, make sure to fill them with baking soda so that whenever the ants decide to come back for resting, they don’t find their home safe and run away. If you have trees in the house or a garden then make sure to keep the tree limbs and branches away from the walls. The carpenter ants can use these spaces as a bridge to reach inside the house.
The presence of carpenter ants is very contaminating. It can badly ruin your living environment and cause health problems also. The damage they bring to the house is indescribable. I hope my tips on how to get rid of carpenter ants help you in removing them forever.