Carpenter ants in ceiling

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  #1  
Old 07-23-19, 10:25 AM
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Carpenter ants in ceiling

(Sorry for being so long. Just trying to give as much detail as I can. I've previously posted on a related item when we thought it was a mouse in the ceiling last month. https://www.doityourself.com/forum/w...e-ceiling.html)

Hi, we've discovered carpenter ants at our cottage. We're now looking into strategies to get rid of them. The cottage is in deep woods with lots of access to old trees and stumps. There's plenty of leaves on the ground and low damp areas within 40 feet year round. There are two firewood piles about twenty feet away from the building and there's left over lumber stored under the cottage. The structure itself is all wood on cement piers. Our wood deck is the only thing in direct contact with the ground.

The cottage has a cathedral ceiling with spray foam insulation between a knotty pine tongue and groove pine ceiling and the roof. The ants appear to have set up shop in the spray foam in the ceiling. They've already removed all the knots in the pine and have dropped a pile of insulation dust and dead ants on the bed. (Yuck!) The cottage has no running water and we don't leave any food when we're not there (previous mouse problem). The cottage is only four years old so I would be surprised (and pretty miffed) if there is a roof issue.

After doing a bunch of reading the current plan is to
  1. remove the lumber from under the cottage, clear any organic debris from the ground and any branches that are too close/touching the cottage.
  2. Put ant bait outside and inside.
  3. Wait until after dark to see if I can trace any ants back to the main colony. Since there is no food or water inside the cottage, I am assuming, at present, they just like the foam insulation for nesting and it's a satellite colony.
  4. Once I find the main colony, and any other satellites, break it open and spray the crap out of it with an appropriate ant killer.
  5. Seal up wherever they're getting in with silicone caulking
  6. Follow up with a perimeter spray around the outside
  7. Hit the knot holes in the ceiling with an ant foam
I haven't decided when to fill the knot holes in the ceiling. I would prefer sooner rather than later, but I also wouldn't want to have to reopen them if we have to have another go at the ants.
Another thing I thought of is removing some of the tongue and groove ceiling for easier access, and to see how extensive the damage is. However that would be a big job and I'd rather not have to add it to the above list if I don't have to. So far there is no sign of sawdust in their leavings so it appears they are sticking to the foam, so far.

I'd really appreciate any feedback or suggestions on anything I might be overlooking. I want these little buggers GONE!

Thanks!
Pennopoly
 
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  #2  
Old 07-23-19, 10:45 AM
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Typical carpenter ant behavior. Moisture damaged wood does attract them but they also move into any void space that strikes their fancy, not related to moisture. Very likely this is/was a satellite colony like you described that split off over night from a larger colony outside, probably in the mature trees or stumps.

Non-repellent insecticides, such as the active ingredient: fipronil (Termidor, Taurus SC, Fuse, etc) are outstanding on ants. Get the concentrate and mix it with water per label instructions. Not labeled for interior use, so treat exterior and underneath as a fan spray and crack and crevice spray. High and low, soffits, eaves, soil perimeter, underneath. Treat tree trunks up to about 4-5'; stumps, firewood piles as a broadcast spray. The workers that are in the roof will leave to forage the exterior and bring food back. The non-repellent nature of fipronil will allow them to pick it up and bring it back to the nest and be transferred to the colony over time, not as a bait but as a contact.

Make sure the bait you use is designed for carpenter ants. Don't spray the bait even though fipronil is non-repellent.

Another strategy would be to use the bait as a stand alone product and see what happens. You can always spray later. If you do use fipronil sprays, give it two weeks after spraying before assessing effectiveness. It is non-repellent, so they will go about business as usual and they will die slowly, otherwise if they died to quickly they wouldn't transfer it to the colony. Same strategy applies to baiting, too. Don't spray anything that may be a repellent when baiting or using fipronil as you will ruin the non-repellent strategy.
 
  #3  
Old 07-25-19, 11:40 PM
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Thanks for the feedback!

I decided to start with baits and do some observation of their movements (when I can keep Hubby from squashing them). The odd thing is they have little to no interest in the baits. I've tried a number of different foods as well to determine if they're in a sweet or protein phase, which have been largely ignored. The only thing I've seen them attracted to in the last 2 days is light. Currently, I have a flashlight set up in the corner of the room with a bait station and some other sample goodies and all they are interested in is the light. My guess is that they are attempting to swarm which really worries me that the colony in the ceiling may be more mature than I originally hoped. To further derail my plans, I can't find a source for fipronil in Canada. Now I'm uncertain how to proceed.


 
  #4  
Old 07-26-19, 06:35 AM
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Here's a link to a supplier. They have some states listed as ones they can't sell too, but I don't see Canada or other countries. Maybe call or simply try to order and see if the form allows you to.

Baiting and feeding, especially carpenter ants isn't well understood yet. They don't always do what we wish they would. Different times of year they want proteins, carbs, liquids, sweets, etc depending on their dietary needs at that point in time. Advance carpenter ant bait is one that the pro's like. Baiting the exterior is important as they leave the structure to forage. Read directions about baiting strategy closely. Moisture destroys the bait and sunshine isn't good for it either. Baiting after dusk is good. Don't bait on or too near a visible nest in ground or tree trunk as the ants will get defensive and carry it away, giving the impression they are eating it. They kind of do things their own way.

https://search.domyown.com/search?w=fipronil&apelog=yes
 
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