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Carpenter ants, long message

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Posted by Dan on 2:57:22 7/20/2009 from

I'm so glad I came across your website during my recent incessant web searches for information about carpenter ant control. Until now I feel that I have found very little useful information, and I will say that the information and help you provide here is nothing short of fantastic.

Thanks so much for doing this.

I would very much appreicate your advice concerning a carpenter ant problem I've been trying, unsuccessfully, to deal with.

I purchased a 19 year old country home in March of this year. The house has a concrete block foundation, an unfinished basement, and an attic crawl space over the original structure; an single room addition was added about 8 years ago, which sits over a crawl space connected to the original basement by a now-sealed cralway cut into the foundation.

The exterior of the house has board and batton siding, and the interior room in question (the ones where I have seen activity) are faced with wood planks which appear to be attached directly to foam-board insulation. The ceiling in the addition features the same construction, exposed planks over foam-board insulation.

The house sits on a 2-acre lot surrounded by many acres of woods.

Before moving into the house I did some rennovations in the kitchen, some basic painting, clean up in the basement (there was a lot of mouse contamination in the fiberglass insulation in the basement resulting in my having to remove all of it, subsequently trapping 3 or 4 mice over the next two weeks and only one since) but I saw no evidence of insects or other pests at all.

At some point in mid April I began to see a lot ant activity around the house, and after some research I determined that they were carpenter ants. Initially it was mostly concentrated to the deck and area around the deck on the north side of the house, but I would see dozens of carpenter ants forging (crawling across the deck and back down under it through the gaps between the planks).

They were active during the day, which I found to be odd after reading about their habits.

After exploring the rest of the yard more closely, I began to notice lots of ants foarging back and forth between a weeping pine a few yards from the addition (on the other side of the house) and the exposed wooden steps leading to the sliding glass door to that addition. They would crawl back and forth all day long (again, during the day).

I noticed some ants moving up under the outside siding on the opposite side of the addition.

When they started to invade my kitchen (I would see 5 - 10 workers in the kitchen when I came home from work on a given day), which is the room closest to the deck, I began to get worried and made a call to a large extermination outfit.

I made what I now consider to be a huge mistake driven by panic, and signed an expensive contract with the outfit to treat the ant problem and periodically re-treat the premesis to prevent re-invasion (as they call it).

The exterminator came out and sprayed around the windows and doors on the inside of the house with Eco AR-X, and around the outside of the foundation and eaves with Bifenthrin. He placed some gel-based bait here and there, and dropped some granules which were supposed to be "taken back to the colony", effectively destroying the ants.

He told me to expect the activity to increase, not decrease, over the next couple of weeks since the ants were disrupted.

After three weeks the problem as no better, perhaps worse as I was now seeing 5 - 10 workers per day entering my foyer from behind some cabinets, I called and asked them to come re-evaluate the problem.

He returned, sprayed the inside of the house again, sprayed the foundation and eaves with again, and emptied a huge amount of Bifenthrin under the deck where he thought the nest was located based on the amount of activity.

Again, he told me it would take a couple of weeks and I'd notice more activity, and again over the next couple of weeks I continued to see activity around the deck and near the sliding glass door of the addition.

I was getting desperate, so I went out and bought some Advance Carpenter Ant Gel and applied it where I saw ants around the deck and door, and they immediately began to eat it. The actiivity over the subsequent week was reduced, and then suddenly there was no activity outside at all.

I figured either the original treatments had finally worked, or the gel, or both - confused, but relieved none the less.

Then I started to encounter lots of winged swarmers dead or dying inside the addition. Every morning I will see at least 5 but more often 15 of them, almost never fully alive, and almost always in the same area, near the sliding glass door and wood stove.

I noticed some dead ants jammed between a couple of the ceiling planks centered around an area of old water damage (the roof had backed up once with snow and ice during the winter 3 years ago and some water entered the room, and the roof had since been replaced).

The wood is dry to the touch and doesn't seem rotted, but you can easily tell that it had encountered water as it is very discolored in that area.

Again, I asked the exterminator to come back, and he puffed some sort of dust between the ceiling boards and between the outdoor steps and the foundation.
The problem continues. Every morning, 5 - 15 dead swarmers, every evening, a handfull more.

I'm not sure if they're living in the steps outside, the roof of the addition, or the wall on the opposite side, but evidence does seem to indicate that theyre dropping from the ceiling.

I've come to realize as I've learned more about carpenter ants and treatment that this shotgun approach combined with my own efforts has probably made the real source of the ants much more difficult to isolate.

I know I'll probably find a larger problem with the structure of that room, (I hope the old water damage is what has attracted them and not new moisture, but either way I will need to deal with that) - it isn't something I can tackle now, however, especially after getting myself into this expensive contract, and in the short term I'd really like to find a way to stop these ants from streaming into my living room and to prevent any damage they may be causing.

Sorry for the very lengthy post, but I thought it would be helpful to explain the situation in as much deail as possible. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

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