Ant swarm on my roof - help!
May 7, 2016 10:07 AM   Subscribe

Just walked out of my front door and, boom, ants all over the door sill outside. What is my most effective way to get them exterminated?

My house has a carport with a header 2x6 beam that has shown signs of ants in it for some years. The header is on the side of our converted garage, so part of the house. We've exterminated a couple of times using professionals, I also spray some stuff around there I got online apparently pretty ineffectively. The signs are detritus and debris accumulating below the header, which seem to always come back.
Today, the ants are swarming when the sun got warm. I'm seeing them on our external door frame trailing up and onto an overhead fiberglass panel that is swarming with ants and then onto the top of the roof and into and out of shingles on the roof cap that look like points of entry.
I can of course call exterminators. What I hope to get from this thread would be a course of action that helps me make good decisions, like what's the best type of exterminator, or how can I choose the best one? What's the probable course of action they would recommend as in repeat treatments or length of treatments.
My partner is pretty much an 'organic is best' person which somewhat inhibits my decision tree. How can I evaluate any potential impacts on us from treating for ants with toxic sprays.
Disclaimers - you are not my exterminator (lol), just needing some perspective as this definitely freaking me out a bit and I'm concerned the ants might be damaging the structural soundness of the building, which is another thread, how to to figure that out as well.
posted by diode to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
Organic is NOT best.

Ants can be destructive, and fire ants can kill you.

You should call an exterminator with extreme prejudice. I've been happy with Terminix, but I had a FAB bug lady in Florida, so if your friends know someone, ask them for a reference.

But you need someone out first thing on Monday. Carpenter ants are destructive and there's a reason termites look like giant ants with wings...they're cousins.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:15 AM on May 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Ants, probably carpenter ants, are eating your house. Organic may be best as a general principle but I would in this case declare ware and call an exterminator. If the are actually inside your living space, they may suggest an indoor fogging procedure which requires you to remove all pets, not leave any food out, stay out of the house for some period. I've had them in my house an avoided that procedure in favor of heavy duty perimeter spraying, plus stakes, bait and all that, with success. YMMV. If they are only outside in the carport I'd go with perimeter sprays and direct treatment of all building components they have invested. This might entail some demolition in the form of removal of trim, etc. — follow the exterminator's advice on that. And sometimes, exterminators can find and attack the external nests in trees etc., which will delay their return. With an infestation as bad as yours looks, I'd follow up with preventive treatments every spring.
posted by beagle at 10:20 AM on May 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, this looks way beyond scattering diatomaceous earth all over the place.
posted by rhizome at 11:28 AM on May 7, 2016

Caprenter ants hollow out the wood of your house to build colonies. To kill them, you need to get the pesticide onto the ants in the wood, requiring locating the nests and drilling to get the pesticide in. To protect your house, I would go with a professional exterminator, tell them you'd have a preference for more natural products, and let them tell you if it's appropriate for your situation or not.
posted by cecic at 12:01 PM on May 7, 2016

Are you completely certain they are ants and not termites? Years ago I found a termite swarm on the front window of my house that I at first mistook for ants. They were dark in color, not white as I expected termites to be. Luckily I saved one of the insects in a ziplock bag, and the exterminator identified it as a termite.

Either way, I think you need to hire an exterminator. I recommend getting at least 3 estimates from different companies. Ask lots of questions and get them to explain what they'll do and why. You'll quickly get a sense of who's knowledgeable and responsive.

I can't load the picture, or I'd see if I could tell anything from it. (Evernote shows the error "The URL provided does not correspond to a valid shared note. This may be caused by a typo in the link, or the note owner may have made it private.")
posted by snowmentality at 8:38 AM on May 8, 2016

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