Posted by Doug on 11:30:48 7/5/2011 from 220.127.116.11:
I've just completed my first two weeks in my "new" house. They weren't there during inspection, but when I took possession, I noticed a few ant traps the previous owners placed in the kitchen, 2nd floor bathroom and adjoining 2nd floor bedroom. My old house is a block away, I recently had a short issue with tiny black ants (grease?) finding the dog food bowl and didn't think much of it...those were easy to eradicate.
It turns out the ants at the new place are carpenter ants. Of course being a "new" home owner, a big red flag went off in my head. I'm not seeing swarms, just one or two in the kitchen every day or so and the same in the 2nd floor bathroom. I've only seen them on the kitchen counter near the sink (also near a window, which will be important shortly) walking around and rummaging randomly in the bathroom. They don't seem to be following any established trail. I've spent a reasonable amount of time watching the ants, but haven't seen them go to an obvious entry point. For example, in the bathroom, they usually crawl around until they find the toilet or sink, fall in and die.
This is a 2 story, solid brick house built in 1915. I can't fathom they're coming in at the foundation level; it's brick right on the concrete foundation with glass block windows. I've been unable to find any opening they could get in. As I mentioned, I've seen the ants on the counter where they duck behind the backsplash every once in a while, but I can't say they're coming from there.
The important part of the story is that at some point in this house's past, some numb-skull planted a Honeysuckle 8 inches from the foundation at that corner of the house and it's right up against the the whole side, including window above the sink. The view from that kitchen window looks like it's eating the house. This bush is tall enough that it reaches the 2nd floor. There's also a very old tree that overhangs the house in that corner.
The windows are original and tired (old glazing, flaking paint in the interior, but are well covered by the storm windows and dry. The sills are stone. I haven't seen any evidence the frames are rotting (yet). My best guess is the ants are coming in through the windows (there are enough gaps in the storm windows to make this possible) and are foraging.
The house inspection revealed no moisture problems beyond clogged box gutters that were cleared and seepage through a foundation crack when rain is intense (runs right to a drain).
We've had a historically wet spring/summer and the weather recently has been hot and muggy. I'm probably overreacting because I just bought the place, but the idea of creatures eating my "investment", however unlikely, is unsettling.
I plan on cutting down the Honeysuckle, trimming back other bushes, clearing brush away from the house and possibly dusting good ol' boric acid (or other powder) in the sills, behind backsplash, pipe openings, etc. and watching the situation for a while. Being solid (structural) brick construction, I don't think there's much in the exterior walls for them to nest in.
Besides drinking a beer and calming down, do you have any other suggestions?
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