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Are Carpenter Ants Trying To Tell You About A Secret Leak?

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When large black ants start milling around your kitchen sink or bathtub edges, it's tempting to think you just need to clean up a little better and separate the ants from any potential food source. However, it's likely that you're dealing with carpenter ants that aren't interested in your sugary snacks or leftovers from last night's dinner. Discover why these particular ants often indicate serious moisture problems in a house and how to get rid of them after you solve your leak problems.

Carpenter Ant Habits

These ants act similarly to termites and make long tube-shaped nests in wood, including the lumber and plywood used to build most homes. While they can burrow into dry wood, they greatly prefer moist or wet wood instead. Unlike many other ants that enter homes, these pests eat insects and not the residues of human food. They don't eat wood but still destroy it as they chew into it to make new nests.

Finding the Nests

While there are baits available for killing the carpenter ants wandering around your home, they don't store much food in their nests so the efficacy of these treatments is limited. Instead of baiting, you need to find all the nests in and around your home and treat them instead. You or a pest control company can get hints about where to apply pesticides to nests by watching individual ants travel back home. It's also essential to find the nests since an infestation of carpenter ants around a toilet is a good indicator the fixture itself is leaking and creating rot and mold problems.

Removing the Moisture Sources

In many cases, just drying out the wood and killing the ants currently using the nests is enough to end an infestation as long as all the local nests are treated. Consider a professional home inspection before calling for pest control to take a pre-emptive approach against the moisture. An experienced inspector can spot subtle signs of leaks in the home like nails pushing out of the studs, sagging roof lines, poorly fitting windows, and the tiniest signs of mold and mildew.

Keeping Away the Ants

Once the nests are treated and the moisture is gone, you should be free from carpenter ants inside the house. If you notice them returning, but you're sure there's no leak inside, look around the exterior of the home for piles of wood, tree branches that touch the roof, and other pieces of wood that are regularly wet by the rain. Even a single railroad tie bordering a foundation flower bed can host thousands of ants that decide to explore inside the home despite having their nests outdoors.