Carpenter Ant Control
Carpenter ants are a common wood-destroying insect pest in Portland and Vancouver, and in most of North America, for that matter. Their range extends even to many areas where termites are not a problem because of the cold temperatures.
Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t actually eat wood. They excavate it and live in it, laying their eggs and raising their young. The damage they do can be substantial over time and may not be apparent because many times they nest in hidden places like wall voids and the spaces around window and door frames. They also can be found in sill plates, soffits, attic timbers, and many other places where the damage they do can be expensive to replace.
Carpenter ant damage can be easily distinguished from termite damage because carpenter ant galleries are nice and smooth, as if they had been sanded. (They are carpenter ants, after all. Apparently they take pride in their workmanship.) Termite galleries, on the other hand, are rough and often have mud and dirt in them.
What do Carpenter Ants Look Like?
There are several species of carpenter ants in the Pacific Northwest, all of which belong to genus Camponotus. The most common carpenter ant encountered in the Portland and Vancouver areas, Camponotus-modocappropriately enough, is the Western carpenter ant, Camponotus modoc, which is pictured here. It’s predominantly black in color with reddish legs. We also get the Pennsylvania carpenter ant, Camponotus pennsylvanicus, and a few others from time to time.
All carpenter ants are on the large size, as ants go, with adults ranging in size from 3/8 of an inch to about an inch. They’re polymorphic, which in a nutshell means that they’re not all the same size (although individuals of established colonies do tend to be larger than individuals of younger colonies).
Adult reproductive carpenter ants have wings that extend well past their rear ends. They use the wings to fly from the colony they were born into, and establish a new colony someplace close by. Once they’re done mating, they shed their wings. (The worker ants do not have wings and cannot fly.)
Carpenter ants also have a single node rising vertically from the petiole (or “waist”), which is also helpful in identifying them. But the short story is that if you have big, black ants, then chances are that they’re carpenter ants. You really don’t need to get up close and personal with them unless you want to.
Carpenter Ant Control
As the diagram on the right shows, there are several areas of a home that are particularly prone to carpenter ant infestation. At Bugaboo Pest Control, we employ a wide variety of methods to control carpenter ants, depending oncarpent-prone the particular situation. But the goal is always to eliminate any carpenter ant colonies on your property, not just to kill foraging workers.
In most cases, we use a combination of non-repellent liquid insecticides, baits, and sometimes dusts inside wall voids. The treatment may be entirely outside, or we may need to some treatment inside (especially in crawl spaces and attics, if that’s where the ants are). It really depends on the job. We don’t take a cookie-cutter approach to carpenter ant extermination.
We have had good success, however, using non-repellent products like Termidor and Phantom on the exterior of the home, which often means we don’t have to treat the interior at all. A lot of people like that approach because they’d rather not have any treatment inside if they don’t need it. We’ll let you know if we think that’s an option once we have the opportunity to inspect your home or building.
Non-repellent products do take a bit longer to work, however, so you’ll need to be a little patient if you want to go that route. Most folks think the trade-off is worth it.
Drilling and Dusting
A lot of people ask us why we don’t “drill and dust” for carpenter ants. The answer is that we do — when it makes sense to do it. That’s how we treated for carpenter ants for many years, but now we have better products available that make drilling and dusting unnecessary most of the time.
Preventing Carpenter Ant Problems
There’s quite a bit that homeowners can do to reduce their chances of having a carpenter ant problem, as well as reducing the chances of getting re-infested by them year after year. Here are some suggestions.
- Trimming tree branches that touch or overhang your house is a good idea. Carpenter ants often walk along branches and crawl or drop onto houses. This is how most carpenter ant problems in attics happen.
- Cut down dead trees, and trim back dead limbs of living trees. Dead trees are carpenter ants’ natural homes.
- Maintain good landscaping practices, and avoid organic mulches right up next to the house.
- Move ornamental plants a foot or two away from the house, and trim their branches so they don’t touch the exterior walls.
- Store firewood well away from your house.
Consider manufactured materials rather than wooden timbers for decks and playground equipment.
A seasonal pest control plan from Bugaboo pest control can also help prevent carpenter ants and other annoying and destructive pests. For information about our carpenter ant treatment services or any of our high-quality pest control products and services, please contact us. We look forward to your call.