There are two species of carpenter ants in Georgia. In our area of the state, we are only concerned with the black carpenter ant. They are dull black in color and will have yellow colored hairs on their abdomen. Carpenter ants become active around May each year and will be seen into the fall. They are mainly active about 15 minutes after dark and will travel several hundred feet foraging. You can actually see the ants using these paths in the evenings. Carpenter ants in outside situations normally will make nests in hardwood trees in areas that have knotholes, tree holes are other voids. They will chew dead wood to make the nesting sites. Inside a home, they will make nests in moisture damaged wood areas around chimneys and skylights, under bathtubs, wall voids under window sills, inside hollow doors and door frames, under fiberglass insulation in crawl spaces, inside dishwasher walls, under siding and wood shingles and in moisture damaged eaves according to Suiter and Forschler.
The key to carpenter ant control is finding the nest. The best time to investigate is about 30 minutes after sunset when they are more active. You may be able to find their semi-permanent path and then follow foraging ants back to the nest. Carpenter ants found in the home may still be nesting on the outside. It is suggested to find outdoor nests by shining a flash light up and down the trunk of larger hardwood trees on your property. You should be able to see the ants moving up and down the trunk.
You may also see sawdust at the base of the tree where the ants have been excavating the tree. The sawdust may contain dead carpenter ants and pieces of insects used for food by the ants.
When the nest is found, you can either remove it or treat in with insecticides. Most of the time, insecticidal baits is the method most used in control. Inside the home, use child safe bait stations. Place the stations where you believe the ants will come in contact with the station. Outdoors, bait gels can be easier to use. You can put out two to three quarter sized piles of the gel where the ants have been seen. This can be close to the traveling paths or at the tree where nesting. Put the gel out in the evening when the carpenter ants are active and to keep day active ants from feeding on the gel. Read the label of any bait station, gel or any other product before using for safety precautions.
You can also to pro-active in stopping carpenter ant problems before they start. Start by fixing any moisture issues in the home. This eliminates excess moisture that can make your home more inviting to carpenter ants. Fix leaky pipes and sinks plus repair water damages areas around chimneys, skylights and eaves for example. Also, keep foliage and limbs from trees and ornaments from touching the structure. Ants can climb up the limbs and then climb over to the home. If you have a problem with carpenter ants that you can’t control on your own, you may have to contact a pest control professional.
For more information contact Gordon County Extension at 706-629-8685 or email@example.com.