Carpenter ant invasion : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

HELP!!! We've had a major explosion of carpenter ants in the upstairs of our house. (We live in western Pennsylvania.) They are so bad in my daughter's room, she refuses to sleep there, and she and I have temporarilly swapped sleeping locations.

How do you find the nest, and does anybody know an organic way to rid the house of them? I only wish to resort to the standard chemical solutions as a last resort.

Over-run with the wrong kind of carpenters, Paul.

-- Paul Di Zinno (, April 15, 2000


I am not sure if you consider this organic, but boric acid will kill them. Boil 1/4 cup water. Remove from heat and immediately add one TABLESPOON boric acid and stir to dissolve. While still warm, stir the boric acid solution into one cup dark Karo syrup. Place this mixture in jar lids and scatter around where the ants are. Refill as necessary, which may be several times a day for the first few days. They should all be gone in a couple of weeks. Put remaining syrup mixture in refrigerator, or someplace cool. Make sure nothing or no one eats it. Keep it away from pets and little kids in other words. Boric acid is available at drug stores and sometimes grocery stores, and should cost under $5 for a pint sized container. It can also be used to make an eye wash which is very effective for eye infections. My grandmother used it on newborn babies eyes when she was a midwife. Anyway, back to the ants. I used this method several years ago when we discovered that our new-to-us house had a MAJOR occupation force of carpenter ants. It worked very well, and they didn't come back.

-- Green (, April 15, 2000.

Won't kill them, but will repel all ants. Bay leaves. Put one in your sugar bowl as a test. GL!

-- Brad (, April 15, 2000.

Don't know about where you live, but we had an infestation which kept getting worse every spring, soon as the sun finally came back from its two month hiatus behind the mountain, and heated up the east wall of the living room.

We drained the pipes in the house, buttoned everything down, and headed for Latin America, from December 1 to March. We didn't leave because of the ants (that would have been a bit much!), but when we came back, the ants had apparently frozen inside the wall. We didn't see them again for the rest of the time we were in the house!

You DO need to get rid of them, as they can be very destructive of your house. Exterminators also use boric acid, but I am told that they drill very small holes through the siding, or whatever, and blow the powdered form into the space where the ants live. The boric acid scratches the chitin, which is the coating on the outside of their exoskeletons, and they die of dehydration. I think boric acid is considered safe for humans, but I can't swear to it.


-- jumpoff joe (, April 16, 2000.

The boric acid recipe does work very well.

Be sure to follow up with preventive maintenance. Check your attic and rim joists for ant litter and damage. Clean up any bodies and droppings. Replace or treat with boric acid any damaged wood and be sure you do not have trees hanging over your house or gutters or shrubs rubbing agaist your siding.

I don't blame your daughter for not wanting to sleep in her room upstairs. I lived in a rental where these things would plop out of the ceiling onto my pillow! UCK! Now my kids drop to their hands and knees and play air hockey with carpenter ants on the kitchen floor. Country kids, you know.

-- Laura (, April 16, 2000.

When we first moved into our 160 year old house I was happily scraping away on the window trim to paint it and one scrape took off the wood and exposed tunnels and an ant peeking at me. We called the exterminator who drilled the holes in the walls and sprayed the toxic chems in the house (also poisoned our cat-another story) all after we signed a contract for a year service totalling something like $1000. Well, that didnt seem to help and finally one nice sunny day I saw a line of them walking back and forth to their nest in a tree. My husband climbed up in the tree and sprayed the nest (sorry but it was with toxics) and that was the end of that. The moral was that if you can find the nest that would be the best way to get the queen and most of the ants at once. If you can find where they are coming in you can put repellents on their trail to discourage them. The only hope is that they nesting in the house. Look for rotten wood in wet areas or areas that get wet due to leaks. The exterminator told us that they dont attack good wood. Good luck, I sure know how your daughter feels about those creepy crawlys.

-- Tami Bowser (, April 17, 2000.

I get occasional invasions of carpenter ants, do nothing about them, and in some days they're gone. If they're persistant, I would suspect a moisture problem. Meanwhile, if there are any termites, the ants will eat them. Educate yourself in two areas: (1) carpenter ants, and (2) exterminators. See which one sounds worse - and consider alternatives to both.

-- Sam Norris (, April 19, 2000.

How about a house built of concrete blocks -- that would solve both the termite and ant problems!!

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, April 19, 2000.

We have used swimming pool grade diatomaceous earth with success. (Do not use this for food!) We scoop it into squeeze bottles and "puff" it around baseboards, behind appliances, into crevices, around exterior perimeter of building. It may take a week or two to see full results. It will not harm soil (that's where it came from) and isn't toxic to animals. You don't need a lot; the ants just need to get it onto them. It shreds their exoskeleton. You may need to re-"puff" outside if you get a heavy rain that washes it away.

-- wk grady (, April 19, 2000.

I also had great success with diatomaceous earth. The product was call Concern sold in Garden Centers. (They assumed I was using it for snails even though I told them it works for carpenter ants) I called the company because I was worried about my free range chickens and they said organic farmers use it to worm their cows. I could hear the ants eating my beams in one room. Outside, at night, I could see them running up and down the foundation. Within a week, all activity stopped. I just poured it around my foundation (avoiding breathing it in)and do it once a year to keep them away. Good Luck

-- D Tur (, April 21, 2000.

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