Important introductory note: I'm in the UK. Our building methods and insect species are in many respects different from those in the US.
On Thursday, while I was out, my wife called me to tell me there was something scurrying around in the wall - scratching and shuffling about. Since then, when it's quiet in the evening, I'd been able to hear the sounds myself - a lot like a rodent of some sort scratching around very low down, possible behind the skirting.
I took my life in my hands this evening and pulled off the skirting boards, only to find a nest of little yellow ants, complete with large eggs, living in a small gap between the skirting and the bricks at one end. I quickly grabbed my handheld Dyson and sucked up pretty much every last ant and egg (and I'm fairly sure I got the queen too) and dumped them well away from the house.
I've cleaned the whole area up, removing a lot of brick dust, ant dropping and other detritus. As far as I can tell, the wall is sound. It's a plastered brick internal wall for most of its length, so there's no way anything is going to be moving around inside the wall itself (from previous experience I know it's a double layer of brick with no cavity.
Then I noticed that the laminate floor had rather a lot of 'give' along part of the wall, and there's a gap under the skirting that goes down below the floor, where there ought to be just concrete meeting a wall. This is more or less at the point where the house was extended before we bought it, so the area in question is somewhere around the point where the extension meets the original 1920s building. I've filled this gap with as much caulk as I can find, and wedged a piece of wood down on top of the gap to (hopefully) prevent whatever rodent there is from entering the house.
So what next? Take up the floor?
I've managed to keep a few of the ants in a jar - here's as good a picture as I can get of one
- the artificial light has made it look much darker than it is - the colour is a uniform honey-brown and much closer to a yellow meadow ant
, of which our garden is full. But these shouldn't be nesting indoors, should they? Could they be the dreaded pharoah ant? I'm hoping not, because my ants don't seem to have the typical darker abdomen or longer thorax.
Excuse this combination DIY/entomology question - I'm just looking at finding a reasonable approach to sorting this problem out that isn't just the obvious 'call a pest controller'.