Recent rains attract invaders

“We’re being invaded!” hollered my husband.
I know even before looking up from my sandwich that he’s referring to a troop of carpenter ants.
He abhors them, and it’s the time of year these otherwise helpful creatures turn into hunters.
First, they march in to attack the miniscule crumbs laying about the floor; then they boldly broach the honey jar.
After all, they have a brood to feed in spring—and cabins are full of treats.
What gets us worried, however, is if they set up camp. Any damp wood will do, including behind baseboards, under sinks, and even in beams.
We once found a nest under our floor boards.
There is no such thing as a quick fix dealing with carpenter ants. We tried pesticides, but they didn’t work.
The long-term solution is watching where they get in. In our case, they were creeping through a crack around an exterior vent.
After sealing the vent and killing off the nest under the floor, we used diatomaceous earth. It’s a non-toxic mix of sharp, scratchy shards including the exoskeletons of ants, fleas, and other bugs.
The ants’ bodies are scraped by the mixture, which drains them of body fluids and kills them.
When we first see ants in the spring, we remember to sprinkle this non-toxic mix around where they might enter. Since sealing our vent, we only see a few ants indoors every spring.
They are staying outside, where they are valuable.
Carpenter ants compost the forest, generating new growth, plus they are an important part of nature’s cycle. The pileated woodpecker, for example, relies on the carpenter ant.
Plus many creatures rely on the holes created by this loud, laughing bird.
So when I hear my husband holler, I put down my sandwich and start squishing. But at the same time, I can’t help but appreciate the hard-working little creatures.
In many ways, they are part of why we’re here.

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