I have carpenter ants crawling up my deck. Nothing seems to get rid of them. I have tried to find out what is attracting them, but can’t come up with anything. What can I do to combat them? I’m scared they’re eating away at something in the walls and that I can’t see the damage they are causing.
Anthony Laidler, Atlanta
This is the time of year we really see these ants. Carpenter ants do hollow out areas for nests, but they don’t actually consume the wood. What you are likely seeing are worker ants following the deck lines, trying to locate a food source for the colony. That means sweets, meat and anything in between. So it’s best to have a pest-management professional inspect for their hiding places. The colony will have a pretty high moisture requirement-it makes wood easier to hollow-so we often search the structure for any areas that have seen past water leaks. Often, ants find their way into attic spaces by the chimney areas or behind dishwasher.
Professional treatment involves inspecting the house for the nests, treating the areas and vacuuming exposed colonies. Most companies offer free inspection and charge for the treatment.
Things you can do around the house in the meantime include trimming back vegetation touching the structure (carpenter ants use this as a highway to get inside) and getting rid of lawn debris, such as mulch or leaves near the house, which they use as hideouts. Ants can fit in an opening the size of the tip of a pencil, so look out for entry holes that size, and repair leaks as quickly as possible.