When it comes to complaints about pests, ants bear much of the brunt. According to The Ant Institute, ants are the number one “nuisance pest” in the United States. Perhaps it’s because these social critters don’t stay hidden away like termites do. Instead, they let themselves in through plumbing gaps or foundation cracks and make themselves at home, marching single file across your kitchen counter in their quest for food.
If you wonder which type of ant may be invading your home, a pest professional can help. Carpenter ants are the largest variety found in buildings, and they make their presence known through their habit of tunneling “galleries” through your wood. Here, they lay their eggs and tend their young. You’ll recognize their tunnels by the smooth insides and little windows from which they come and go. Carpenter ants don’t eat wood and prefer soft, moisture damaged material in which to make their home. Aside from wood, anything warm and humid will do, from the hollow of a curtain rod to the interior of an unused garden hose.
So how do you prevent mature colonies of 4,000 ants from tunneling holes in your siding? While most of the damage is minor, structural damage can ensue if satellite nests continue expanding unchecked. Rest assured, though, because the solutions are easy. Here are some recommendations from the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP):
- Caulk potential entry points, such as cracks, electrical lines, and water lines.
- Trim branches away from your home. These are potential entry points.
- Store food in ant-proof containers.
- Consider installing a gravel or stone strip around your house.
- Fix leaks in roofing and plumbing pipes.
- Replace damaged structural wood.
- Remove logs, stumps, and waste wood near and under your house.
- Eliminate damp conditions near your home.
Visit the NCAP website for a complete list. Have you found a carpenter ant nest via a sawdust pile? Remove the nest itself if you can, otherwise, remove the ants themselves with a vacuum. Colonies grow slowly, so take action, but don’t panic!