How to get rid of carpenter ants some effective methods

What do carpenter ants look like, and how to kill them?

This article is a continuation of a series of articles about the ants . Here in detail about carpenter ants, and how to get rid of carpenter ants. Considered the most popular and safe for human methods of dealing with carpenter ants, preventive measures.

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Why carpenter ants are dangerous?

Carpenter ants are primarily forest dwellers, but they often settle near occupied buildings, causing significant damage.

  • They normally find places like rotted wood, using it only for nesting and never eat it. Nevertheless, they grind through the timber making tunnels and galleries for their nests.
  • Carpenter ants also bite with their massive mandibles though they do so very rarely and only as protection.
  • The ants carry disease-causing microorganisms.

A Carpenter ant infestation may result in log house damage. Unlike termites, ants are incapable of destroying your house, but they can weaken wooden beams.

Carpenter ants habitat

It is natural for carpenter ants to reside in forests. However, if a log house is in a woodland, they can visit it and even build a nest inside. The ants are frequently found in window frames, roof eaves and other places that are mostly defenceless. They can also be found nearly leaky faucets in the bathtub or sink. Ants’ nests may be found outside the house – in tree trunks and stumps. Carpenter ants can invade your house from a parent nest, which is sometimes situated 300 metres away.

What do carpenter ants look like?

Carpenter ants usually are red or black in colour. Some of them also have reddish-brown or yellowish shades. There are also definite castes of the ants, depending on their role in the nest.

  • Ants’ queens are winged only during the swarming period. After the first mating, they bite off their wings and seek refuge in rotten wood to start a new colony. The queen feeds only her first rafting. Then, her task will be to lay eggs. The queens are 15 mm in length, and have black, brown, or yellow body colour.
  • Males are winged mature ants, but they are smaller in size – about 8-10 mm. Males are born from unfertilized eggs. The male’s only task is to mate with a future queen during a nuptial flight. Soon afterwards, males die.
  • Workers can be large or small. Large-sized workers defend the colony. Smaller ones repair and build the nest, chewing through the wood and looking for better places. They also care for the queen and larvae. Worker ants are often seen outside of the refuge. They have no wings but do have mandibles. They also move larvae and pupae to safer places.

What do carpenter ants eat?

Carpenter ants never feed on cellulose and wood. They exploit this material exclusively for drilling galleries along with its grains.

Their main diet consists of honeydew, which is produced by aphids. The ants prefer dead insects, including members of their colony. When carpenter ants invade a person’s house, they usually search for sweet things that are rich in carbohydrates. But they also like meat and fat. Water is also essential for these creatures. The ants gather around sinks, baths and dishwashers to get drops of water.

How do you kill carpenter ants?

This task can be quite challenging for non-professionals, because it demands attention to every detail. Learn more about how to get rid of ants in this article.

Signs of carpenter ants’ infestation

Carpenter ants are night “hunters”, but sometimes you may notice them during the daytime. Some species in your house are not necessarily pests; they may be some sort of spies to examine a new place or delicious food. You can suspect carpenter ants to be permanent dwellers when you see them regularly and in large quantities.

There are specific footprints of carpenter ants.

  • Discarded wings outside or inside the house.
  • Little piles of ants’ frass, which closely resembles sand or sawdust.
  • The special sound of the timber when you tap on it. It is caused by scared ants, warning other siblings about the danger.
  • Tunnels and pathways in the wood construction. You’ll hardly guess that your house has already been damaged by the ants until you cut out the suspected piece of timber and have a look at it. Ants’ galleries are clean and smooth while termites’ tunnels are applied with special mud or sticky substance.

Carpenter ants vs. termites

Signs of ants’ infestation are very similar to those of termites’. It is very useful to distinguish between these insects, since they require different methods of elimination.

Swarming Appearance Food Behaviour
Carpenter ants Both are active in spring and in summer Wings – one pair is smaller than the other one.

Body – the head is definitely separated from the intestine by means of thin waist (thorax).

Never eat wood. But digest different kinds of food – meat, honey dew, sugar and other insects. Quite active. Ant workers crawl out of the nest seeking food everywhere.

Create rustling sound when you tap wooden structure.

Termites Two pairs of identical wings.

The body has smooth lines with a broad waist.

Feed on cellulose, which is a part of dead timber construction and paper. Practically invisible, lead a hideous and silent life. Can’t bear open air and sun. That’s why they build mud tubes in order to reach the desired wood far from the nest.

If you know that you have ants in your house, but not termites, you can identify and destroy their home, together with the queen and larvae. It is useless to kill working ants immediately with sprays and quickly-acting baits. By doing so, you will cause ants’ spreading about your house and creating so-called satellite colonies.

How to get rid of carpenter ants naturally?

There are effective, but pets- and children-friendly treatments against carpenter ants. They are based on natural components and presented with:

  • Diatomaceous Earth (DE). It is a powder, consisting of microscopic diatom relics. This natural bait desiccates ants causing their death. Disperse diatomaceous powder in the ants’ nests. You also need to reapply the bait regularly for about a week to exterminate the whole colony. Though diatomaceous earth does not harm humans, don’t inhale it while covering the surfaces.
  • Boric acid. It tears off the ants’ exoskeleton. It is a very effective natural treatment against ants. But if borax is used in large quantities, it causes the immediate death of the insects. The aim is to kill the pest colony. Therefore, it is better to lessen the amount of boric acid in the bait. The pests will eat the poison and carry it to other parts of their colony. The only bad thing is that it will take about 2 weeks to wipe out the unwelcomed guests.
  • Orange oil. It kills ants by destroying their respiratory systems. Spray it in their favourite places or clean the surfaces in your house to stop the ants. You can use either essential orange oil, purchased in the store, or make your own. It is non-toxic and has a very pleasant scent. You should still be careful with orange oil since it may produce an allergic reaction.

Special methods against carpenter ants

For stubborn insects or difficult infestations, use chemical stations and baits. There is a wide range of insecticides, baits, sprays, gels and granules to fight carpenter ants. Remember not to use sprays and bait stations together, as these methods act very differently. Insecticides and liquid treatments have high toxicity for ants and, unfortunately, for pets and people. But they tend to kill the pests immediately. By using baits, you can eliminate the whole colony, by having contaminated a few working ants. Bait systems are usually low-toxic and have prolonged action.

Here are the most popular chemical treatments against ants:

  • Advance carpenter ant bait. The active component is Abamectin that gradually destroys the insects’ nervous system.
  • Maxforce bait gel. This gel attracts ants thanks to its resemblance to their favourite honeydew. This slow-action killer is carried into the ants’ population, completely destroying the organisms. After 3-5 days your house will be free of pests.
  • For outside treatment, there are products such as Taurus SC and FUSE. They both have non-repellent action, which means slower but guaranteed eradication.
  • Alpine PT Aerosol, Alpine Ant and Termite Foam. These products are applied in places where you expect ants’ nests. The treatment is injected into hollow wood space.

Preventive measures against carpenter ants

After exterminating, you should defend your house from a new wave of ants’ infestation. Follow these simple tips:

  • Keep food inaccessible for ants; remove all crumbs from the kitchen countertops and floor.
  • Cut out dead trees and stumps in your garden.
  • Don’t let tree branches reach your house roof.
  • Remove dead leaves and debris in your backyard.
  • Fix leaking taps and tubes as moisture and rotted timber attract various pests that can damage your property.
  • Use natural treatments while cleaning the house, for example, peppermint or cinnamon. You can also use vinegar and even baby powder against ants. Though these means won’t kill the insects, they will stop them from invading your property.

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How To Get Rid of Gophers

17–20 minutes to read | Updated for 2020

Sometimes called a pocket gopher because of its fur-lined cheek pouches, this small mammal is unique to the Western Hemisphere. Its homelands stretch from Central America to Alberta. This means that much of the U.S. serves as a gopher’s backyard, from coastal areas to high elevations. Unfortunately, its tunnels create a host of problems for North American farmers and homeowners. Along with being part of the food chain, gophers do play an important role in ecology. Their burrowing adds organic matter to soil and increases aeration. But if you think or know that they have caused damage on your property, your first step is to understand gophers and how to spot signs of their activity.

Physical Characteristics

  • 5”-14” long
  • Weigh anywhere from six ounces to nearly two pounds
  • Fur ranges from black to light brown to white
  • Small ears and eyes, so they rely more on their sense of touch
  • Sometimes confused with squirrels, groundhogs, or moles
  • Sturdy in the front of the body with a short neck and small, flattened head; long claws on the feet

Gophers Versus Groundhogs


  • 5”-14” long
  • Very light; weighs six ounces to nearly two pounds
  • Black to light brown to white fur


  • 16”-27” long
  • Much heavier at 5-14 pounds
  • Brownish-gray fur

What is a Gopher’s Lifecycle?

After gestation of between 18 and 50 days, females give birth to litters of two to five gophers. As the young reach about half of their eventual adult size during summer, they leave the burrow.

Gopher populations can vary greatly depending on the species. Some groups may swell only to six to eight gophers per acre, but others will soar to nearly 60 per acre. While this poses problems for homeowners and farmers, the population is controlled by natural predators like hawks, owls, badgers, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and weasels.

Gophers not only grow fast, but they mature fast. They reach sexual capability in the spring following their birth. This makes sense given their brief lifespans. Geography plays a role in this animal’s life cycle. Gophers in northern states may only breed once per year while southern-based gophers may mate twice.

Can Gophers Transmit Viruses or Diseases to Humans?

Gophers can carry harmful diseases such as hantavirus, leptospirosis, and plague like other rodents. However, they are always underground and don’t usually come in contact with humans. A more common danger is in their ability to transmit fleas and ticks to outdoor pets.

Why Are Gophers on My Property?

Your soil is just their type. Moisture is crucial to gophers, as is a high concentration of clay. Sandy soil may deter them from excavating a home due to the potential for a cave-in and a lack of insulation from extreme temperatures. This means that they will likely seek out the preferred amount of clay and water when looking for a place to build a burrow. In an attempt to find moisture, gophers sometimes bite into irrigation pipes.

The climate is their sweet spot. Much of the United States is hospitable territory to gophers. If you live in the western two-thirds of America or certain states in the Southeast (Alabama, Florida, and Georgia), one or more of 10 different gopher species are part of the landscape.

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Corn Diseases, Insects, and Pests

Most of the trouble gardeners have with corn is easily controlled. Diseases aren’t much of a problem, and insects can easily be kept in check. Birds and four-footed visitors who want to share your corn harvest can be kept out with any number of scare-off devices and fences. Prevention can be 100 percent of the cure. If you sow your corn in well drained soil that has balanced nutrient levels, you’re on the road to having healthy plants. Healthy plants can withstand nibbling or insect damage better than weakened ones. In many cases, a crop that’s healthy will often be spared disease and insect attack altogether.

A very important step you can take for disease-free corn is to clean up all the cornstalks as soon as the harvest is over. Till healthy cornstalks into the soil as additional organic matter, or, if you prefer, shred, compost or simply discard them. Dealing with old cornstalks will prevent many diseases and insects from overwintering, which is crucial to the health of crops grown in future seasons.

Stewart’s Bacterial Wilt can affect sweet corn at any stage, but is most harmful to young plants. It causes dwarfing and wilting of the plants, and the tassels often develop early and die without completing pollination. Leaves develop yellow-brown streaks and wavy edges. The leaves of young plants may dry out, and the stem eventually dies. This wilt is often characterized by a yellow slime on the inner husks and in the stem. Bacteria overwinter in the gut of the corn flea beetle. This disease is prevalent after a mild winter, when more disease-carrying flea beetles have survived. To prevent an outbreak, clean up all crop residues, rotate your corn crop each year, plant resistant varieties and control corn flea beetles.

Root Rot is caused by fungi in the soil and shows up as stunted plants or irregular plants with rotten roots. You risk root rot when planting seed in cold, damp soil. Use treated seed, plant on raised beds if soil drainage is a problem and wait until the soil temperature is 55° F before planting.

Corn Smut is caused by a soil fungus, and can strike corn anywhere it’s grown. Smut looks awful, but it’s not a disastrous condition. Smut is edible and actually is sought after by gourmet chefs. In the early stages of the infection, grayish white, spongy growths called «galls» usually appear on the corn ear or tassel. As these galls ripen, they turn black and eventually burst open, releasing powdery spores that spread the smut. The disease thrives in hot, dry weather and often infects weak or injured plants first. To prevent, rotate crops, and if you notice any galls, pick them and burn them before they blacken and burst. This will halt the smut’s spread and is often all it takes to keep the disease in check from one season to the next.

Southern Corn Leaf Blight is another fungal disease. It is characterized by tan streaks or lesions on the leaves, and may cause early seedling death, mold-covered kernels or rotten cobs. A similar disease, northern corn leaf blight, results in grayish green or tan lesions on the leaves and reduced yields. These fungi overwinter in infected seed and plant debris. Plant resistant varieties, using healthy, certified disease-free seed. Rotate crops and remove or till under crop debris. If the disease has been severe in your area, check with your local Extension agent for a preventive fungicide program. In 1970 this blight reached epidemic proportions, wiping out 15 percent of the total United States corn crop, for an estimated loss of one billion dollars.

These are the insects most likely to affect corn, along with the best control measures for the home gardener.

Corn earworm is also known as the tomato fruitworm or cotton bollworm. This 1- to 2-inch-long caterpillar ranges from light green to purplish brown. Moths lay eggs on corn plants in early summer and larvae feed first on the silks, then on the kernels at the tip of each ear. The insect can prevent pollination, and it opens kernels to fungus invasion. To discourage this pest, select varieties with tightly closed husks. Earworms can be controlled somewhat by squirting mineral oil into each ear after silks have started to dry, using half a medicine dropper per ear. You can also spray the plant and silks with Bt. If earworm damage occurs, clip off the tip of the ear and any affected kernels. The rest of the ear should be fine to eat.

European corn borer is a 1-inch-long tan or brown caterpillar sporting rows of dark brown spots and a dark brown head. The moths fly mostly at night and lay eggs on the undersides of corn leaves in early summer. The hatched larvae bore into cornstalks and ears to feed. Broken tassels, bent stalks and «sawdust» around corn are all signs of borer damage. If you catch it in time, you can often cut out the borer from the stalk with no permanent damage. To prevent infestation, treat ears and leaves with Bt as soon as silk has partially emerged. Spray with an organic pesticide at five-day intervals from the time you first spot borer activity or when the tassels begin appearing. Make at least two applications for best results. Be sure to till or spade under crop residues at the end of the season so the borer has no place to overwinter.

Corn Sap Beetles are small, black beetles that spawn maggot-like larvae that eat into the kernels of roasting corn. Larvae are whitish and up to 1/4 inch long. The beetles are attracted to the scent of damaged corn, so preventing feeding by other pests helps keep them at bay. To prevent, plant resistant varieties and clean up all crop residues. Southern corn rootworms are small, yellowish grubs of the spotted cucumber beetle. They weaken corn plants by feeding on roots, causing the stalks to blow over easily in wind or heavy rain. Adults lay eggs around roots of cornstalks in the fall. The eggs hatch in spring. You can avoid damage from corn rootworms by tilling under cornstalks and rotating crops each year.

Corn Root Aphids are tiny, light green insects that feed on corn roots, causing the plants to be stunted and yellowed. The aphids overwinter in the nests of cornfield ants. The best way to control this pest is to plow the garden in the fall, destroying ant nests. Corn Flea Beetles are small but dangerous. Only 1/16th of an inch long, these jumping black beetles chew corn foliage and transmit Stewart’s bacterial wilt. The pests abound during cool, wet periods and after mild winters. They hibernate in weeds and plant debris over the winter, so keep the garden and surrounding areas clean. Many of the later-maturing white corn varieties are resistant to wilt. To repel flea beetles, sprinkle a light dusting of wood ash over plants and soil.

Wireworms are slender, yellowish or brown larvae of click beetles. These 1/2- to 1 1/2-inch-long worms resemble a jointed wire. They damage corn plants by feeding on the roots. These pests are most often present in newly worked sod. Rotate crops and till or spade your garden thoroughly in the fall. Heavy infestations may require soil treatment with beneficial nematodes before planting.

Seed corn maggots are cream-colored and legless. The 1/2-inch-long larvae bore into sprouting seeds and prevent further growth. When early corn is planted in cool, wet soil, the slower germination makes the seeds more susceptible to maggot attack. If maggots are a problem in your area, delay planting until weather warms.

One of the biggest challenges in growing corn is keeping it for yourself. From the day you plant to the day you’re ready to harvest, it seems there’s always some critter who’d just love to share in the bounty. Fortunately, most of the animals and birds that invade corn can be outwitted. Raccoons are smarter than we’d like them to be, but they, too, can be kept at bay. Here are some ideas to keep corn free of uninvited guests. Some of these tricks can solve pest problems in other parts of your garden, as well.

Raccoons are well known for their expertly timed raids on the sweet corn patch. Many people start their tales of raccoon damage with the words, «The night before we were going to pick the first, ripe, sweet corn -.» When you lose ripening sweet corn to raccoon raiders, you swear they were on hand at planting time reading your seed packets, jotting down the days to harvest and keeping track of the time back in the woods. Actually, raccoons are attracted by the smell of the sweet corn tassels.

There are many old-time tricks to keep raccoons out of the corn patch, but only one rule: Put your defense in action before the raccoons can set a single foot in your garden. Once an animal has tasted your sweet corn, it will be almost impossible to keep it out of the garden.

To protect sweet corn, try these ideas:
* Erect a three-foot-high chicken-wire fence topped by an electrical wire.

* Play a portable radio in the cornfield all night.

* Plant a crop such as pole beans, pumpkins or winter squash between rows of corn. Supposedly, raccoons don’t like to tread on vines or foliage covering the ground around cornstalks. Also, the lush foliage of pole beans cuts down the raccoons’ ability to see, and this, too, is said to discourage their corn raids.

Some of the methods that keep raccoons out will also work for skunks, woodchucks, deer and squirrels. An electric fence is the best all-around pest barrier, except when it comes to squirrels. These agile creatures aren’t put off by fences, electric or not. One way to keep squirrels away is to sprinkle red pepper or Tabasco sauce on some ears on the outer rows of the corn. It won’t affect the corn’s flavor when it’s cooked, but any squirrel, skunk or raccoon who takes a nibble of the «hot» ears isn’t likely to come back for seconds.

It seems there’s an endless list of home remedies to try to keep the corn patch free of four-footed pests: running barefoot around the corn rows to leave a strong human scent; tying your dog near the corn to guard it; placing a paper bag over each ear; the bag of tricks seems bottomless. Some of these methods work some of the time, so try anything you think might work for you. Using several methods in succession or simultaneously increases your chances of success.

Unlike four-footed critters, birds do as much good in the garden by eating insect pests as they do damage, but some species have a weakness for corn. There are a few ways to keep birds away from the corn at each stage of the game.

After planting, cover each row with a long strip of chicken wire, bending it in an inverted U-shape about 10 inches high in the middle. The close mesh keeps out prying beaks, and by the time the seedlings touch the top of the wire, the birds are no longer interested. You can remove the wire and store it for the next season.

Don’t bother with scarecrows. Although they might be fun for the kids to put together, they’ll only serve as a handy perch for most birds. However, there are other effective ways to scare birds away. Try putting a realistic life-size plastic owl on a tall post near the corn. The owl will ward off birds, and may help with neighborhood mice and rabbits as well. Moving the owl frequently will keep critters from getting used to it too quickly.

If you can keep birds away from your newly planted corn, they shouldn’t bother the crop again until the ears start to fill out. Then you need an effective bird-scarer or chaser. Rig up noisemakers or aluminum pie plates around the corn to frighten them. A cat or dog near the garden often does the trick. Flashy mylar tape and scare-eye balloons can help, too.

One time-consuming, but surefire bird barrier is to tie a paper bag around each ear of corn, but only after the corn has been pollinated. This also can ward off invading insects, but it’s too much work for a large cornfield. When it rains, the bags break and need replacing; and when it’s windy, they often blow off.

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