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Removal of carpenter ant evidence


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Does anyone recommend removing the carpenter ant evidence at some point (wood shavings, dead bodies) either before treatment or where activity is in question so that areas can be monitored for any new activity?

What happens when you can't determine if the evidence indicates an active or inactive infestation?

For example what if the home was treated and problem cured but next time it gets inspected isn't the inspector going to write up the evidence all over again?

Chris, Oregon

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Once it's treated, I'd remove the evidence. I don't see any upside for keeping it there. Of course, I'd keep documentation that it was professionally treated. The only issue would be if there was still activity and someone removed evidence in an effort to try and hide the problem (i.e. nondisclosure on a resale)

I'd, personally, be uncomfortable stating that they were "inactive" unless I had a licensed pest control guy back me up-in writing.

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I would clean up any remainders from an infestation if for no other reason than to monitor any reoccurrances.

I understand you being hesitant to claim that an infestation is inactive, but if you are sure that there are no signs of activity, I would have no problem stating that I didn't see any signs of activity.

If you don't feel comfortable stating that, than recommend having someone that is qualified check it out.

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Does anyone recommend removing the carpenter ant evidence at some point (wood shavings, dead bodies) either before treatment or where activity is in question so that areas can be monitored for any new activity?

A proper treatment for termites involves scraping back all visible mud tubes. I've never heard of a corresponding task with carpenter ant treatment though. Carpenter ant evidence isn't usually fixed in place so it's harder to remove. Often it takes the form of detritus that sifts out from between car decking planks. Every time someone walks over the spot, more stuff sifts out. How are you going to remove that stuff? A shop vac? Also, while we often discover carpenter ant detritus in a crawlspace, the exterminators usually don't have to enter the crawlspace to apply their treatment. They're not about to go down there just to clean up the evidence, particularly if they have to drag a shop vac down there with them. I think cleaning up carpenter ant detritus and carcasses just isn't realistic.

What happens when you can't determine if the evidence indicates an active or inactive infestation?

For example what if the home was treated and problem cured but next time it gets inspected isn't the inspector going to write up the evidence all over again?

Chris, Oregon

Maybe, but that's ok because the little buggers probably move back in since it was last treated.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Hi,

Jim's right. Chemical treatments for CA only last a while. Once the residual is gone, they return and just start borrowing again. You need to find out why they are there and fix that at the same time that you nuke them. Fix the condition that led them there and nuke the nest and they'll be gone for a while. That's why you need to periodically treat for them.

When I find their frass, I just poke around in the areas nearby. If there's an active nest, a few soldiers will come out to the entrance pretty pissed off and reveal that they are still active. If I see frass without activity, which is common during winter months, I just report that and recommend that the clients find out whether there'd been an issue that had been dealt with. If there hasn't been a recent treatment or the homeowner claims that they have no knowledge of any ant activity, I recommend they get a pest guy out to treat for them.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by Jerry Simon

Originally posted by kurt

Carpenter ants are hard targets. Sometimes, it's almost impossible to get rid of them.

Get rid of their source of moisture and they'll (have to) leave.

Well, yes and no.

There usually has to be some moisture or rot to make wood soft enough for them to get started on a project, but, once they get started hollowing out wood, they'll work even in dry wood.

Unlike annobiidae, termites, and lictids, they aren't dependent on the moisture in the wood to survive. So, yeah, if they haven't got a good headstart on a nest, finding and fixing whatever has softened the wood is going to help but it isn't going to discourage them if they've already got a well-established nest. Most of the time, unless you treat the entire house at once, a chemical treatment only causes them to pick up and more to another location temporarily until the residual has dissipated. One or two more years and they're back again.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Originally posted by Jerry Simon

Get rid of their source of moisture and they'll (have to) leave.

I used to think that, but I've got personal experience that says no.

And, I've also found them getting moisture from minor condensation between roofing felt & the shingle layer. How does one get rid of tiny amounts of condensation between shingles & felt?

Carpenter ants are hard targets. Very hard.

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Originally posted by Jerry Simon

Originally posted by kurt

Originally posted by Jerry Simon

Get rid of their source of moisture and they'll (have to) leave.

I used to think that, but I've got personal experience that says no.

That's a neat trick. How does an organism survive without moisture?

Because when they nest in a home the nest is normally a satellite of the main nest where the queen and drones are located. They prefer the sun-warmed sides of a home and they use those areas for nurseries.

Besides, they can't survive on moist wood because they don't ingest the wood. They prefer dampened wood, but they can mine dry wood when they want to. Workers that do the foraging bring back both food and water to the main nest. One thing that's pretty wild about carpenter ants is that they're like little dairy farmers. Workers will actually tend to aphid colonies to collect honeydew secretions from the aphids which they carry back to the nest to feed the drones and queen.

True story. If you don't believe me, check it out with your state's department of agriculture.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by Jerry Simon

[brThat's a neat trick. How does an organism survive without moisture?

You know that's not what I meant.

Carpenter ants have many ways to get moisture; read Hausdok's answer. They're sneaky little bugs.

I've also had them eating the totally dry interior red oak baseboard in an old house I owned, and I've seen them munch away completely dry rim joists. I don't think 15% moisture content is a prerequisite for carpenter ants. If it is, I think someone's got it wrong.

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If you know you've got them, finding the nest isn't that hard. Just wait until you see some foraging. They'll be walking around and slowly looking in all directions with no apparent direction. Put some honey out on a piece of cardboard where they'll find it. They'll gorge and then make a beeline for the nest to feed the drones and queen, and they'll be moving at a faster pace and will lead you right to it.

You can also find them late at night because their activity will pick way up in the wee hours of the morning. They usually have little pathways established between the main nest and the satellite colony and they'll be out there tending it in large numbers, removing any debris that will slow down their supply train.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by kurt

Originally posted by Jerry Simon

[brThat's a neat trick. How does an organism survive without moisture?

I don't think 15% moisture content is a prerequisite for carpenter ants. If it is, I think someone's got it wrong.

I'm not an entomologist, so I personally can't attest to the accuracy of the 15% calculation. But that is what the reference material I have states.

I admit that it is possible that they are wrong. Can you tell me where I can get the right answer to that question?

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Thanks for the heads up.

If you have seen Carpenter Ants activly tunneling into dry wood, and not the signs of a previous infestation, I can not dispute what you say, but I went to the Penn State, Ohio State and U of Alaska sites. Although none of the mentioned the 15% figure, they all cited moist or wet wood. Penn State added that they seldom tunneled into dry sound wood.

I'll check out a few more places, if I can't find any information disputing my references, I'll probably stick with what I have. It's from Cornell and part of the NYSDEP catagory manuel.

But... somewhere in my mind I will remember that it is possible.

Thanks anyway.

I think the real problem is, somebody may have forgotten to inform the ants. [:-idea]

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This thread started out asking about cleaning up the remains of an infestation. That is a very good idea... and standard practice in "Integrated Pest Management."

Cleaning up to "trick" an inspection is bad.

As far as reporting, if you are using the NPMA-33 form and my state's regulations, when performing a Termite/WDI/WDO inspection, you must report signs of activity and/or signs of previous treatment.

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Originally posted by StevenT

Penn State added that they seldom tunneled into dry sound wood.

That's been my experience, having had three separate infestations in my own house. Each time, I found the leak and the resulting rotted wood below, replaced the rotted wood and fixed the leak, and no more ants. Thus my "get rid of the moisture" comment.

I've found hundreds of active carpenter ant infestations over the years, and each infestation was inside wet, rotting wood.

I've also seen dead ants on occassion, but with no signs of active infestation, along with a complete lack of wet, rotted wood.

The severity of this problem, and the degree of *need* for moisture/rotted wood, may also be a local phenomena.

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We do a couple hundred treatments per year for ants and know they will do damn well what they please and when they want to do it. Worst infestations are in closed cell foam sheathing and there ain't no water in that material.

At least that is our experience in wonderful Michigan.

As a pest control operator, we always remove as much frass as possible at the time of treatment.

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I can only think of a couple of times that I have seen huge and I mean huge amounts of shavings in crawlspaces. These homes were dry as far as I can remember. I couldn't see any damage directly but there had to be significant damage somewhere in the walls.

They do love that foam insulation out here also.

Chris, Oregon

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