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My workshop, which is a stick built shed, has been invaded by carpenter ants. I have a lot of wood and scraps that I keep and I assume that might have been the attraction. I pulled everything out and cleaned it as best I could and then partially reloaded it with my tools. I am leaving a lot of the wood out overnight while I search for a solution to my problem. I have two questions: Can you get rid of carpenter ants yourself or is this a job for the experts; and if the wood is the draw what should I do with the wood so that this is not an on-going problem. I don't want to dispose of all my scraps but they do need to be stored inside so I have limited options here. Help
 

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I found a cheap and reasonable effective ant killer on line which is a cup of water, a cup of sugar, and 3 tbsp of 20Mule Team Borax. You boil it into a syrup as a lure/killer. You wouldn't want that on your lumber but maybe boiling the solution without the sugar and spraying it on your lumber might be an effective deterent that would be very cheap to try. If it doesn't work your wife can use it in her washer.

Usually bugs in general don't like wood that has very low moisture content. Is your wood dry piled?
 

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Carpenter ants nest in moist wood inside and outside, often in rotting wood, behind bathroom tiles, around sinks, tubs, showers and dishwashers. They also may inhabit hollow spaces in doors, curtain rods, foam insulation, etc. Humidity is necessary to sustain their eggs, but it is possible to find satellite nests that are not in moisture laden areas where some of the colony can reside.

Carpenter ants do not eat wood, but they remove wood as they create tunnels and galleries for their nests. Their primary food sources are proteins and sugars. They feed on living and dead insects outdoors. They are attracted to honeydew, which is a sweet liquid produced by aphids and scale insects.
Indoors, carpenter ants feed on meat and sweets, such as syrups, honey and sugar.

Carpenter ant damage is caused primarily by the ants burrowing tunnels to build their nests.

The only way to get rid of carpenter ants is to find and destroy their nest. Outside, look for carpenter ants tree damage and activity in rotting wood, stumps or wooden structures. Inside, nests and carpenter ant damage are more difficult to find.

If you lay out bait, you can follow the ants back to their nest. They are most active between sunset and midnight. Ants do not see the color red, so the best way to track them is to cover a flashlight with a red film and follow their activity at night.

Understand that there is no easy way to get rid of carpenter ants.

If a nest is exposed, spray insecticide directly onto the nest to kill the colony.

If the nest cannot be located, bait food with a combination of 1% boric acid and 10% sugar water. Worker ants eat the baited food and share it with the rest of the colony through regurgitation. This is a slow process and could take weeks to months. Do not put insecticide directly on the food because it will kill the worker ants before they return and share the food with the colony.

If the nest is behind a wall, the boric acid can be sprayed into the cavity....
The boric acid causes them to ''pop'' like popcorn....
 

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I found them in two locations. One was inside a drawer where they were feasting on a package of vinyl gloves I keep around for when I am working with stains and chemicals. The gloves had been reduced to a small shreds, almost looked like snowflakes and the bag the gloves are in had quite a large number of very active ants inside. The second location was inside a door stile I had started some time ago but the project changed and it never got finished. I had dry fit the door together and it was left that way. When I pulled it out today it separated and the ants came swarming out. that is all I have found but that doesn't mean there aren't more there somewhere.
 

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Keep looking. It sounds like you found the symptom and not the cause. If you find the pathways then the syrup I suggested may do it for you. The recipe called for filling pop cans with some of the syrup and leaving it next to nests or along pathways.
 

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Having taken classes at Michigan State University presented by Dow and previously being certified for pest control I can tell you that boric acid powder dusted into cracks and crevasses with a squeeze bottle or puffer works wonders safely. As long as the powder stays dry it will keep working. No worries about kids or pets getting hurt by it. If you use Boraxo you will get better results if you grind the powder very fine. The ants walk through it and it sticks to the hairs on their legs so they carry it back to the nest where others are effected by it. This helps with many insects but for a heavy infestation it is not enough. Carpenter ants can cause a lot of damage; a house in Birmingham, MI had the dining room ceiling crash down on the table because of them in 1976. This is a very extreme example but to my way of thinking it is worth the cost to have a certified professional take care of them for you.
 
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I watched a special on Market Place and they used half icing sugar and half borax . As mentioned the borax has to be ground extremely fine. They mixed the two and said its as good as anything the pros use
 

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Bill; just out of curiosity, how do you know for sure they're Carpenter ants (as opposed to any other variety)?

...OK, Ok; I know the old jokes about little tool belts.
 

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Ants must get water daily. There will be a trail to their source of it. Knowing that may lead you to their nest. A highway no more than six inches wide through a grass lawn was dicovered when an investation was dealt with in the early 80s where I worked.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Bill; just out of curiosity, how do you know for sure they're Carpenter ants (as opposed to any other variety)?

...OK, Ok; I know the old jokes about little tool belts.
I am not an entomologist so can't say for sure but they are large ants, many of them with wings, and the buggers with wings are probably between 1/2 to 1 inches long. When I looked it up on the internet that is what I found.
 

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There are several kinds of liquid ant food available on Amazon or Home Depot. The key is not to kill the ants you see walking around once you have put the poison out. You want them to take it back to the nest and kill the others.
 

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If you don't want to make your own pesticides you can buy both liquid and powder at a hardware store or HD. As others have said get rid of the damp wood. Also, as an FYI, carpenters will burrow into Pressure Wood as well as non treated wood......I had some PT 2x4's, that the builder had set into concrete, hollowed out by carpenter ants.
 

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I spent a lot of time on the computer last night looking for products which, based on reviews, are successful in dealing with ants in general and carpenter ants in particular. One product, made by Terro, seemed to be highly effective. The ingredients? Borax just as several of you have mentioned. It is a trap filled with a liquid mixture of borax and other ingredients and it works just as you guys have described. So good call.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Bill; just out of curiosity, how do you know for sure they're Carpenter ants (as opposed to any other variety)?

...OK, Ok; I know the old jokes about little tool belts.
If you don't want to make your own pesticides you can buy both liquid and powder at a hardware store or HD. As others have said get rid of the damp wood. Also, as an FYI, carpenters will burrow into Pressure Wood as well as non treated wood......I had some PT 2x4's, that the builder had set into concrete, hollowed out by carpenter ants.
Interesting. I had some scraps of pressure treated plywood in the pile and the drawers that I made were plywood so maybe that is what attracted them.
 

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I had a problem with Argentine ants getting into my RV and tried the Borax mix without success. The best commercial mix I have found is a product called "Terro". It's in an orange & white can and I found it at Ace hardware as well as on line and is said to kill all kinds of ants. It comes in spray cans, outdoor and indoor baits and in jugs for home sprayers. As with all insecticides follow their directions (Borax has safety concerns too). The good news is the Argentine's will kill Fire ants. Argentine's don't normally bite but are just pesky (they get into my snack box). good luck
 

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I did not observe them flying but some definitely had wings. The majority were wingless however.
The Carpenter ants are big shiny black, definite segmented, The big termites we have here are a little smaller more flat reddish brown, usually the termites are carring their eggs to safety if disturbed. I am not sure if Borax kills them or not.

But ants like moisture, is there a damp spot in the shed?

We also have the tiny little termites that leave little trails of powder fine dust they seem to like dry wood too.

Herb
 
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