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The Carpenter Ant Problem....
(UnExCo's Take)
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We all know that carpenter ants can be a bitch. Hard to locate or pin down in many cases. But we, as exterminators, also know that carpenter ants, perhaps discovered by some kind of renovation or redecoration, by a builder or a homeowner, is far more likely to happen. And those situations, you cannot deny, can oftentimes be handled by a good shop-vac just as well. (Should I mention IPM guys? You should all know what that means....)

Your regular monthly customer calls in, panicked over the hordes of ants found when the tile man was replacing tile on a shower stall wall. She tells you she has never seen this before and is absolutely agog that she could take regular showers, every day, and be so close to the ants and never see a one.

I'll make a bet that most of you (exterminators) know exactly what's up already. If you have any experience whatever, without another word, you just KNOW that the shower is leaking somewhere, and that water has gotten behind the tile wall, forcing the replacement of the tile. And the ants, which have been discovered by the tile man, were just taking advantage of the constant water supply. In fact, before discovery, the ants might never have actually come inside the living areas.

Now since this is already your customer, you're gonna HAVE to go right over there...... And when you do, what are you going to do? Are you really going to give that lady some kind of song-and-dance about having to go around her house and drill all kinds of holes in the wall, all over the place, in the event that she had something somewhere else?   Shame on you if you answered yes.

Upon arrival to her house, you should examine the problem, try and determine if all the water concerns have been taken care of, and only after that, you use an appropriate method to solve the problem. Now, I'm not saying that you should always use a vacuum and that insecticides should never be used. In many instances insecticides (or baits) might be employed under the right conditions - best determined by the actual operator. And we all know that whatever action the homeowner (builder, tile man, whatever) takes, is usually far from the correct procedure. In fact, it's almost ALWAYS completely wrong and can often cause even more problems.

So the prudent use of any insecticide is absolutely necessary, and if you can use a shop-vac to accomplish the same end, or help to accomplish that end, why not? Gentlemen, THAT'S what they call IPM. Don't forget, the world's most famous and successful exterminator used no chemicals whatsoever. He used a pipe.

Anyway, the scenario above happened to me.  (Actually, I get a lot of it.)  Now, for some additional information. When I got to the customer's house, I found that the tile man, who had discovered the ants, used his own shop-vac against the ants. His boss, a former exterminator, had told him not to use any insecticide, just the shop-vac. So by the time I got there, the problem was solved and there was really nothing to do.

Now, maybe you could say I should have dusted down suspected areas, but in this situation I didn't feel it was necessary at all. It was a localized problem and we had never had a carpenter ant complaint from this customer in all of the years we had been going there. In this case, the real hero is the tile man and especially his boss.  I just took the credit.

I did, however, perform an ordinary general pest control procedure (B&G only) to the entire house. Was it really necessary? Probably not.

And, since this was a fifteen-year (at the time) monthly pest control customer, I naturally made no charge for my stop. So at the end, gentlemen, I have just one final question: Do you think that lady will call or recommend anyone else if she has a tile or bug problem? I don't think so. You gotta think ahead, guys, I know I'm not wrong about this. Oh.   And by the way, this took place some 15 years ago, (she is now a thirty-year customer) and we have since received zero complaints of carpenter ants, even with the customer's obviously heightened vigilance.

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