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Carpenter Ants & Fiberglass Insulation


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Posted by Josh on 13:47:35 9/24/2009 from 154.5.33.218:

Hi there,

First I wanted to say that this site is great - a valuable source of common sense for ant issues!

Second, I have a Carpenter Ant problem. I live in the damp Pacific Northwest. I purchased a home in summer of 2008, and I have a separate garage/workshop. I do not have a problem with ants in the house, but do in the workshop.

The workshop had some very serious structural water damage from a missing downspout where water was running against the wall and making its way into the building cavity - this appeared to have been happening for quite some time well before I bought the place. I saw some Carpenter Ants during the summer of 2008, and there was some sawdust, etc coming from openings in the wall and below the siding both near the area with the major water damage as well as across the other side of the building where there was no water damage. In the fall of 2008, I removed all of the walls with damage and rebuilt them, and replaced the missing downspout. There was no water issues against this wall this past winter.

This Spring (Spring '09) I had a major carpenter ant problem in the workshop. At some points over a few week period there was hundreds of them inside the building, many of them the big winged variety. Without doing much research, I began the shotgun approach with ant bait (the red bottle variety) and with a contact-spray insecticide, which I had no luck with - and now I know why from reading your site!

I have now opened up all of the walls in the workshop, partly to check out my ant situation, but mostly because I am doing a major upgrade to make it a proper woodworking shop, upgrading electrical etc. I have removed all the drywall, and all of the insulation so I can now see all of the structural elements and the backside of the building sheathing. I have shopvacced all of the wall cavities. I was unable to find any nests, at least that I was able to ID. I did not see any larva or eggs anywhere, though I did see a couple of strange looking insect casings embedded in a dried mud-like enclosure. Long story short, my questions are these:

1) There are ant bits, and ant-created sawdust scattered among most of the insulation (fiberglass batt) that I removed. Is it safe to reuse this? I am concerned that there may be ant nests in the insulation and I do not want to put them back into the walls! That said, insulation is not cheap and I would like to reuse it if at all possible.

2) The building has vinyl siding, which I am hoping to replace at some point but cannot afford to do now. Underneath this siding, but on the exterior side of the sheathing is a 1/2 to 1 inch thick foam insulation, which in addition to providing marginal insulating value also appears to help the vinyl keep its shape. When I repaired the exterior wall last fall, there were lots of galleries embedded in this foam, and I did not put any of the damaged foam back. Is it possible that the ants will be living in this foam in other parts of the building that do not have water issues?

3) I have heard that putting Diatomaceous Earth in areas where ants are can be a good idea. Is it worth putting some in the wall cavities before I seal them all back up? Should I add another dust of some sort to the wall cavities before I seal everything back up?

Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to offer! Cheers, Josh



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