Is this a carpenter ant?
June 18, 2017 11:27 AM   Subscribe

Ant was in our light fixture, must have gotten in from the ceiling. Is it a carpenter ant?

We're in a row house in Toronto, and our roof probably needs to be replaced in a few years, it's not impossible that some moisture has gotten in. I'm very nervous about ants, as the neighbour's roof collapsed a few years back (don't know if it's was pest related or now). Bug photos: Photo One, Photo two
posted by stray to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yep.... sorry. :(
posted by The otter lady at 11:31 AM on June 18

I have them right now, verified by a pest company, and yes - you do too. Commiserations. You need to get professionals in to put the right poison in (above) the light fixture, so the ants will carry it back to their nest. It's the only way. Almost nothing else deters ants.
posted by mollymillions at 11:47 AM on June 18

Yeppers, I'm afraid it is. You definitely want to make sure that you get your place treated, and then treated regularly. They are a pox upon us down here in Florida, and they can do some dang damage, that's for sure.

Follow these steps to prevent Carpenter Ant infestations:
Correct moisture problems, roof leaks, and plumbing leaks.
Cut back tree limbs or branches that could serve as a bridge to your structure.
Seal cracks and openings around the foundation, especially where utility pipes and wires enter from the outside.
Stack firewood away from the house, elevated off the ground if possible. Carpenter Ants love to nest in firewood.

We had a firewood stack next to the house at my last place and it was the drawbridge to a total house infestation.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 12:24 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]

Carpenter ants will generally only be found where there is moisture. If I found one in my ceiling I'd be looking for leaks. The leak is the problem, the ant is a symptom.
posted by mr vino at 2:32 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]

Sigh. Everything is terrible - but thanks y'all. We did have a little leaking around our skylight a while back and had it patched - at that time we were told the roof had ~5 more years in it. We'll have to see. Probably will get a pest guy first.

If anyone has recommendations for pest services in Toronto, please PM me.
posted by stray at 3:35 PM on June 18

I am in coastal Georgia, I tried baits and didn't have much luck. Granted they are the baits sold to proles at the big box store. I ended up twice tracking them back to their nests in rotting trees, both times Crepe Myrtles. Even spreading the bait around the tree didn't have much effect. It was quite satisfying, though, to empty a couple cans of aerosol ant killer into the cavities in the trees. Watch out for them dropping on you from above as they do the dance of death. Both colonies pretty much covered the sidewalk with dead bodies. (I will omit expressing the absolute glee I felt when I knew they would bother my house no longer.

Note to Mr. Vino, this was within one year of me buying a dilapidated house and replacing all plumbing. There was quite a bit of evidence they had been working on the house for years.
posted by rudd135 at 5:16 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

It's possible that rather than having an infestation you've just caught a scout (fingers crossed). Putting out some poisoned bait (I've used a homemade borax & sugar solution in the past) might help give you a sense of the scope of your problem before you go to the expense of hiring an exterminator.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 5:54 PM on June 18

Can confirm the ant is a symptom of moisture, or I'll add, sometimes an infestation of smaller critters. We had carpenter ants show up after the Argentinian ant infestation got very robust.
posted by jbenben at 7:01 PM on June 18

Welp, called a couple of pest places and they both said "You carpenter ant? And you want us to do what now?". I guess we should wait and see if anymore turn up, otherwise not panic. Will report back if the ceiling collapses in the night, but in the mean time, thanks for help all.
posted by stray at 7:47 PM on June 19

I had them once. They established a nest behind a soffit that got damaged and moist. Then they broke a hole into my kitchen. One day I was standing in the kitchen and I watched, as Wikipedia phrases it, "masses of winged sexually reproducing ants" leave the parent nest.

One carpenter ant is not a big deal, true. But if they are around nearby remember that when the new ones are born that's what they do: fly (fly!) around to establish more nests. I would at least talk to your neighbours and see if anyone else has them. Maybe a neighbour needs the pest control company.

If I were you (I guess I really mean if I were me in your situation, because bugs in my house make me angry and hysterical), I would get a ladder and watch the roof for about 5 minutes (it takes time for your eyes to focus on small things when it's dim) as the sun is going down (but before actual sunset) and see if you can spot an ant trail. Then do the same thing around your foundation. Do the same if you can find any damaged, moist wood on your house or on a tree stump.

If you see any, go to eBay and buy Termidor.

Apply it according to the directions. You can't buy it direct from Termidor or from a retailer, but it's on ebay a lot and is very easy to apply safely. Follow the directions. Do not apply anywhere indoors, and keep children and pets away for a little while. Follow the directions. (Did I say you should follow the directions?)

I saw hundreds, and assume there were thousands, of carpenter ants on my roof, in my kitchen, and on the foundation, so I sprayed the roof, the foundation, and that damaged soffit. Then, poof, they were gone in a day. Then I fixed the soffit and patched the hole in my kitchen.

I know you might not necessarily try this yourself. But you should know that if the problem gets bad, then the pest control company really will be able to solve this quickly.
posted by lockedroomguy at 6:49 AM on July 4

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