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Carpenter Ants Destroyed My Deck!

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Mo Heat, Mar 21, 2009.

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  1. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Interestingly, very little of this damage was visible until I started taking things apart. I've been killing these little bastards for the last few years when I finally realized they were eating up the deck, not the termites I was fighting last year. These ants are hard to eradicate.

    I live adjacent to what remains of some woods that were developed about 20 years ago. Erosion, bugs, rodents, peckers, and varmints of all makes and models are constantly attempting to make miserable or destroy people, pets, and property around here. I thought moles were the most destructive until I noticed this deck damage.

    Looks like one more project for the to-do list.

    http://picasaweb.google.com/moheatmail/DeckRepair#

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  2. roac

    roac New Member

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    Uhh forget the deck... Have they made it to the house? If you haven't I would call the pros to spray and inspect the house ASAP. Your house could be in as much trouble as that deck is.
  3. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Pro's have been here. Two independent inspections, from two different companies, went well. Side benefit: I finally cleaned the basement for the termite inspections.

    Only one side of the deck had ant activity. The side of deck closest to the woods, which remained the wettest after rain and snow, due to slight downhill slope and shade trees. No termite or ant damage to house. Thank god.

    Had professional Termidor treatment last fall. Drilled slabs, foundation, and hit four spots in the yard where I've seen swarmers and termite activity. Lots of termites in the woods here. Everybody's got 'em. Both of my next door neighbors had Termidor treatments last year, too. Waiting to see if annual "swamers" in our yards are "gone" this spring.
  4. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    I've been battling them for years, and the best advice I can give you is to resist the urge to kill them when you see them. Instead, take a few minutes and follow them. They're either on the way to, or from, the nest.

    Killing the individual ants gets you nowhere. Gotta killl the queen, or queens, and they're in the nest. Baited granules geared toward carpenter ants work best.

    Might want to check all you rim joists, and all your top/sole plates, even in the attic. I had them there once.
  5. jklingel

    jklingel Feeling the Heat

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    ABSOLUTELY get the chemical that the foragers can carry back to the nest on them. See a pro (or two). A friend is a pest control pro and showed me the right stuff at Ho De Po last year; he looked at many "ant killers" before he found one w/ the right chemical in the ingredients. I sprayed like crazy and will see if the carpenter ants emerge this spring or not. All I know now is that just after I sprayed they vanished, but it was about dormancy time, too. I will spray my house annually henceforth, ants or not.
  6. cityevader

    cityevader New Member

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    I battled them before and won quite amazingly using this product called Advantage http://www.pestproducts.com/advance.htm .

    There would be trails of ants, I'd shake a bit of this stuff near the trail and they went berserk carrying the yummy stuff back home to Mom and siblings. Fun watching the yellow grains (more visible than the ants) travelling tremendous distances back to the nest. Day and a half later, no more ants. Literally.
  7. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    To all - those liquid/gels work pretty well too. I just squirt it in cracks and crevices when i see activity and in about 24 hours, all activity stops DEAD!
  8. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    The key thing to remember for the future, and when looking for damage now, is that ants can't deal with dry wood. They need moisture and dampness in order to live in and destroy an area - when rebuilding, use construction techniques that won't trap moisture, and design things so they can dry. If this isn't practical, use pressure treated lumber and other materials designed to resist moisture.

    Gooserider
  9. cityevader

    cityevader New Member

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    Actually, I had them in my very dry attic, they did a bit of damage before I found them. Pulled down a bit of sheetrock and a ton of the buggers poured out. Tunneled a bit in the rafters and shiplap pine walls.
  10. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Last year, I started using an Amdro brand product containing 0.88% hydramethylnon. It says it's an attractant (bait) product, lists carpenter ants (and many, many others) on the kill list, and states they carry it back to the nest, pass it around, and in one to four months (quite a range) the entire "mound" should be dead. I'll look for that other stuff, too.

    I've stopped all activity in several "nests" around the yard (2/3 acre). They had quite a complex of "tunnels" out back that appeared simply as "holes" in the ground, several within 3 - 5 feet of each other, but not what I'd call "mounds".

    I've baited two or three places where I saw them going in and out adjacent to the house and patio. Within days, activity had ceased in both locations. That was encouraging as far as bait effectiveness.

    I keep finding more ants. I try to follow them to their nest, but so many of them just randomly run around, probably foraging. Most carpenter ant activity around here is nocturnal according to my county website. You could have fooled me, though. I see them quite a bit during the day, but maybe it's a complete nightmare out there at night. But ant activity has been radically reduced in the last year.

    I'm also planning to buy some liquid and spray around the house and the deck, especially where the deck posts touch the ground, which is where the greatest activity and damage is.

    I'm planning to spray and bait every year as well, even if I feel like they are all gone. I am certain my neighbors have them, so ants will probably attempt to recolonize my yard.

    I'm planning to replace a couple 4 x 4 deck stair posts and put some gravel in the bottom of the piers to keep the wood off the dirt. I'm going to replace the damaged cedar stair stringers with PT. I'm considering using PT for the 4 x 4 posts as well, but I'm not sure if they'll match the remaining cedar posts very well and I'm concerned that staining will defeat the new copper type PT. Doesn't that stuff create a small electrical current that bugs don't like? If I stain over the copper, won't that effectively insulate the electrical field? I don't think they make the arsenic impregnated PT anymore, but I'm pretty ignorant of building materials.

    I appreciate the replies. Good ideas.
  11. myzamboni

    myzamboni Minister of Fire

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    We typically get ants in the house when they are trying to avoid too much moisture (too much rain).
  12. mainstation

    mainstation Feeling the Heat

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    Some good advice, Dave11 is correct, locate the Queen and remove her=remove the ant problem. Ants range very far though and are scent driven. Watch your food waste etc, around the house and inside under the sink garbage can. Check foundation and rim boards as well Check for a "systemic insecticide" that the critters can pick up on the body, take back to their lair and share the "love"
  13. Beanscoot

    Beanscoot Member

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    You mention "deck posts touch the ground, which is where the greatest activity and damage is." Definitely this should be rectified, as you say you will do. Concrete piers (or deck blocks) under each post is a good idea.
    I would search for old stumps, etc. in your yard and burn them out. They will serve as reservoirs for ant colonies. Often in housing developments stumps are merely shallowly buried, and then the ants have lots of habitat.
  14. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Back when I did remodeling I ran across a bathroom remodel job where there were literally millions of ants in the walls surrounding the tub. Wow, what a pain.

    I never knew ants screamed before, but when I got some decent spray and hit 'em with it, I actually heard them as they expired and fell into the tub.......sort of spooky.
  15. woodsman23

    woodsman23 Minister of Fire

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    What may i ask does a screaming ant sound like??
  16. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Don't know about screaming ants, but I used to live in FL where they had the big "Palmetto" roaches (nothing like a 3-4" long cockroach, NOT counting the antennae) - stomp one of those guys just right and they'd pop like a firecracker...

    Gooserider
  17. BucksCoBernie

    BucksCoBernie New Member

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    wow those lil suckers really did a number on your deck. I would rebuild w the trex boards. they are insect resistant, waterproof and fade resistant.
  18. ssupercoolss

    ssupercoolss Member

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    i heard that "bora care" was also a really good product. termites/carpenter ants/etc
  19. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I read this, and it did sound pretty creepy (from a pest control web site):

    Clicking or rustling sounds can sometimes be heard coming from carpenter ant nests. If you identify a potential nest site, try tapping against it with a screwdriver. You may hear a response -- the clicking of alarmed ants.
  20. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    We had a problem w/ carpenter ants in one of the walls of our house a few years back - it actually tended to be the other way around. If you just sat in the room quietly, the ants would make so much noise it sounded like the static on an AM radio, or a giant bowl of Rice Krispies... If you tapped on the wall they'd shut up for a few moments.

    Gooserider
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