When you do a weekly article, sometimes you have to be creative on a topic for the week.
I try to keep my eyes on alert for things I see that would make an interesting article. As I was walking around my property yesterday, I noticed an area of sawdust in a hollow area under one of our oak trees. I immediately thought carpenter ants. I came back later in the day and I saw the ants coming out for their evening activities.
Today, I will share information from a UGA publication on carpenter ants by Dr. Dan Suiter and Brian Forschler, UGA Entomologists.
First, let us start off with a little history on carpenter ants. Carpenter ants are considered by many as a property pest for a couple of reasons. Number one, they are big ants and can be seen in larger numbers. The size and larger numbers make them a pest that folks don’t want around. Since they can make a nest inside the home, this makes them even more of a problem for some people. At my place, the ants were excavating out a hollow spot in a tree. Note: I said excavating and not eating the wood. The ants were cleaning out an area to make a nesting site. They chew wood to create a nest and don’t eat the wood, but carpenter ants are still are considered to be mild wood damaging pests.
There are two kinds of carpenter ants, but we only worry about the black carpenter ant in Northwest Georgia. There is also the Florida carpenter ant that has a red colored head and thorax with a shiny black abdomen. The Florida carpenter ant is more known to the southern part of Georgia. Our carpenter ant is more dull black in color. Carpenter ants are active from around May to October. They are night active ants for the most part. They normally begin their activities right after sundown and can venture hundreds of feet from the nest. They also will make what is called semi-permanent paths, which will be their highway system when they are roaming round looking for food.
Carpenter ants are creative on nesting sites.
According to Suiter and Forschler, they can nest in moisture damaged wood around chimney and skylights, around bathtubs, in wall void, inside dishwasher walls, around door frames and in hollow areas of hardwood trees just to name a few.
Ok, you think you have a problem with carpenter ants. How do you control the ants? The key is finding the nesting site. You do this and you can take care of the problem easier. Since carpenter ants are active at night, you will need to do your investigating about 30 minutes after sunset. You are going to need to find some of the foraging carpenter ants and follow them back to the nest. Suiter and Forschler state that many times carpenter ants that you are seeing indoors are found nesting outside. When investigating outside, you will need to be prepared. Have a flashlight with you and look around for the ants going up and down the truck of a hardwood tree. Look for those semi-permanent paths, too. I saw the pile of sawdust under my tree about mid-day so this tipped me off to the ant nesting sight.
After the nest is found, insecticidal baits are the best method of control. For indoors, baits in childproof plastic stations are used. You would want to put the stations in areas where you have seen the ants. If baiting outdoors, the ant gel baits work well. You can put out 2-3 quarter sized piles of the gel in areas where you see the ants such as the ant paths or at the nesting site such as the bark of the tree. Read the directions on proper use, but it is suggested to put the gels out at night to keep the day foraging ants from eating all the gel before the night active carpenter ants come out. Again, read the label of any product purchased for proper use and safety.
Finally, you may want to make your area less carpenter ant friendly. In the home, repair water leak and replace moisture damaged wood. Also, keep ornamental and tree limbs from touching the home by pruning.
For more information contact Gordon County Extension at 706-629-8685 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.