To ‘Treat’ or not to ‘Treat’, that is the question

We live in a time and society of ‘it has to happen now…I mean RIGHT NOW! Or else!’ But, maybe that is working against us – big time. I mean, we see a bug in our home or garden and out comes all of the artillery we can find…cans of sprays, dusts and jells all the way to the use of a hammer until that nasty ‘Ole bug is eradicated. Was, is it really all necessary? Just what is the ‘by product’/fallout from the use of all of those chemicals on our home environment or our garden, or, how about we ourselves for that fact? One thing that gets real active this time of year is ants. Get lazy and leave some sort of food scrap out on the counter or a spill that is not cleaned up real well and suddenly the hoards have descended out of seemingly nowhere and are swarming all over everything. I do not hold a general pest (Branch 2) license, so I’m not going to discuss the multitude of ants that can plague people because that is not my expertise. But I do want to discuss carpenter ants, which do fall under the purview of Structural Pest Control Branch 3 licenses, and that I do have. This is the time of year that carpenter ants are active, especially for people with homes above 3000 feet elevation. Carpenter ants do not eat wood, but they do excavate it, usually to make a safe nesting site or passageway. Typical treatment materials and methods that might be employed against termites are not usually very effective against carpenter ants as the treatment chemicals are designed to be ingested to work, which the carpenter ant won’t do as they are not eating the wood. But carpenter ants are attracted to moisture and decaying wood, as it is easier to excavate. However, they can be found in new wood and wood low in moisture also. Foraging carpenter ants are many times found in and around kitchens and bathrooms. If they are active and setting up a nest or satellite colony, most of the time the main indicator will be an accumulation of wood fragments (not dust) and usually body parts of dead ants in areas or piles on the floor. To avoid a carpenter ant infestation in your home, the best things to consider doing is to inspect for and correct any and all water leaks and/or water intrusion points in and around the house. Also clearing and trimming back foliage and tree limbs around the home structure and foundations will make access more difficult for the ants. Removing severely decayed trees and buried wood from the property are also initial steps to take to avoid a carpenter ant infestation. As carpenter ants clean up decaying and decayed wood, are an important food source for birds and animals, and are predators of defoliating caterpillars, a rush to chemically treat and eliminate any carpenter ant in sight on your property may well not be the right or smart thing to do! Take all things into consideration before ‘pulling’ the chemical treatment ‘trigger’.