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Carpenter Ants

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Posted by MJ on 0:12:09 1/25/2013 from

Dear John,

We live in southeastern Michigan (Ann Arbor area), in a two-story brick colonial. Our house is 15 years old and we are the original owners. Since we've lived here we have had only one pavement ant problem about 6 years ago and it was taken care of in a couple days by having a pest control company place two ant baits in the area we saw the ants and a perimeter spray around the outside of our house. No problems since then with any more ants of any kind until now. Last summer, from about June through September, we found a lone carpenter (large black ant) in our house maybe a total of 5-7 times. Didn't think much of it because of the mild winter and very hot summer we had last year. I though they were just getting in the house as we walked in and out the doors or maybe even coming in on our dog as he likes to sit in the grass in the backyard. Didn't see any from Sept. until this past Christmas. Over Christmas vacation, my kids spotted two loners in our family room. It was cold and there was snow outside, so they could not have come from outside. We were so busy during the holidays, that we didn't give it much thought. Then in early January, we started to see more loners. Starting January 6, I began to keep track of how many I have seen and where. So far I have seen and killed 126 of them. They appear in the family room, downstairs half-bath, and the master bath mostly. I have seen a loner here and there in other parts of the house, but I think they wandered there from one of the three areas I mentioned earlier. ( I think this because I spent almost two hours watching one walk from the half-bath on the first floor go up to the second floor and then travel across the top of the upstairs hall to the front foyer which is a two story foyer and walk back and forth across the foyer ceiling for over a half hour before coming down the foyer wall back to the first level by the front door. At that point he was almost at the opposite side of the house from the half-bath.) To make a long story shorter, I have been watching them closely and I think I know where they are mostly coming from--the walls behind the master bath stall shower on the second floor. I say that because i've found about half of them in that room and I've watched them come in and out of the heat register that is on the same wall as the stall shower. That wall also backs up to an attic area and also is perpendicular to an outside perimeter wall, where the two walls meet. Also the half-bath is directly under the master bath and family room is on the other side of the half-bath. So the wall upstairs in the masterbath where the heat register is comes down to the first floor and is the wall where on one side is the half-bath and the other side is the family room. Since I find ants in the family room, the half-bath, and the master bath and they share a wall (of course the master bath is upstairs). I think this is where the majority of the ants are. I had a pest control person out a couple days ago, but I hadn't seen the ants coming in and out of the heat register then. He agreed with me that the master bath was very suspect, but his inspection of going in the attic to where the plumbing for the shower is and his other checks didn't show him where they were coming from. Also we have never had any indications of water leaks in any of our drywall under or around the master bath area. We thought maybe they were coming out of the perimeter wall where the vanity cabinets are located because I had seen an ant go into a crevice there. So the pest control guy said he didn't like to use a lot of chemicals and did not want to drill into walls unless he was pretty sure that's where the ant nest is, so he decided to just treat under the vanity cabinets with a spray of Cy-kick (cypermethrin) and some pyrethrum, and he placed some Advion ant gel under the cabinets. This was two days ago (Tuesday). Up until then I saw a total of 77 ants. Since his treatment, I have seen at least 49 more, and I have discovered they are coming out of the heat vent in the master bath, but I can't figure out which opening in the family room and half-bath although I have sat there for the longest time and watched all along the floors and the vents, etc. They seem to appear out of nowhere in those downstairs rooms. As far as the upstairs vanity that was sprayed, I have found 3 dead ants nearby and also a dead one by the front door on the first floor and a dead one in the half-bath. By the way, it's been in the low teens and in the 20's the past week, why are these ants coming out now in the middle of winter. Also why didn't I see any in Oct, Nov, or Dec (before Christmas)? Should I have the pest control guy come back? I have a guarantee from him. What should be done next? We have a small dog and older kids, but I do not like the idea of a lot of chemicals, but I can't stand these ants. I am not sleeping much because of them.

Thank you so much for your patience in reading my very long post! And thank you for your advice!

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