Case Studies

Cowleys Pest Services Case Studies: Large Black ants turn out to be Damaging Carpenter Ants - Ant control & removal in Martinsville, NJ

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016 by Chris Fyfe


I was dispatched to handle an ant infestation in one of our community associations in Martinsville, which is located within Bridgewater Township in Somerset County. The association had submitted a work order to Cowleys on behalf of a homeowner. 

Upon arrival, the homeowner said that she saw large black ants along with piles of very fine sawdust in certain areas of her basement. Based on the size and color of the ants and the sawdust residue, I knew immediately that this was a  carpenter ant infestation. Carpenter ants are wood-boring ants that can cause significant damage by channeling out galleries in wood. As shown in the attached photos. carpenter ants were on the landing in the stairwell to the basement, and a pile of sawdust had accumulated behind some storage shelves on the basement floor. 

With an ant infestation, finding the nest is crucial to permanently solving the infestation. Merely killing isolated foraging ants is ineffective. When it comes to ants, there are plenty more where they came from. To help uncover the root of the infestation, I moved slowly during my probe where I applied a flushing agent into the likely harborage areas of these insects based on where there was sawdust residue. I focused on the cracks and crevices along the sill plate, the part of the wood framing anchored to the foundation wall since that is where “the action” was. From my experience, because of its proximity to the ground, sill plates are often a target for wood-destroying insects like termites and carpenter ants. 

As I started probing and flushed the ants out of their hiding places, a small pile of carpenter ants began dropping and accumulating on the floor. I immediately knew that that I was in the “hot zone” and close to the colony. I wedged myself between the air duct and wall and shined my flashlight up towards the sill plate. To my surprise, I immediately found the nest. Usually, it takes me a little longer. I have to admit, even though I’ve been a pest control technician for almost 20 years and have seen it all, I still get excited when I hit the “mother load,” and find an active carpenter ant nest. I think it’s the same feeling that a bounty hunter gets when he finds a fugitive. You can run, but you can’t hide! 

Trying to contain my excitement, I showed the homeowner the nest. She started to panic a bit when she saw the number of dying and dead carpenter ants. I calmed her down, explaining that now that I found the breeding ground of the infestation, getting rid of the ants would be quick and easy. Fortunately, I had my backpack vacuum with me, and I reassured her that I would clean up the dead ants after I completed my treatments to get rid of the infestation. 



I treated both the inside and outside of the house. Inside, I applied a residual liquid insecticide to the basement sill plate and baseboards, stairwell, and kitchen slider. Outside, using my backpack sprayer, I treated the perimeter of the house, bedding areas, and deck underside areas. After I completed my treatments, I returned to the basement as I promised, and cleaned up the remaining dead carpenter ants.

The homeowners were very appreciative and thanked me for removing those uninvited pests. Having pests in your home is bad enough, but pests like carpenter ants that destroy wood are a lot worse!