Michelle made a discovery recently that made us feel better at first, but now we’re not so sure. When we first started hearing ants in the walls this summer, we assumed that the sound came from them chewing blue foam board. Michelle pried up a few segments of paneling in the corner where we could hear them, and discovered that there’s no foam board there. The fiberglass insulation in that part of the wall has paper backing, and the sound we took to be chewing is actually the ants walking on the paper. While we’re relieved that we aren’t hearing them tunnel, we assume they must be, and makes us worry about the extent of it.
A few days ago we tore out a big section of the paneling to see what we could do about the ants. This wall, the front of the cabin, had been completely destroyed by carpenter ants, and replaced with pressure treated wood by the original owner/builders.
We pulled out the insulation and found the ants clustered tightly in a few places. They seemed almost torpid, only becoming active when we started puffing diatomaceous earth on them. There weren’t that many, all in all. Unfortunately, the ones that were there had been busy. We found that they had tunneled into one of the pressure treated supports! We didn’t know they could do that. It looks as if it might have gotten wet in the past. It’s dry now, but the damage is done. Luckily, it isn’t too extensive. We plan to fill it, shoot foam sealant in all the cracks we can see they’ve used to access the area, swab with borax solution, and dust the whole liberally with diatomaceous earth.
We left the cavity open for several days, and saw almost no ant activity. We don’t know if this is good or bad. I’m hoping that they vacated because of the exposure, and that in the days we left it open they established new patterns of activity away from the wall. On the other hand, I’d like to see what they were doing in there, and maybe gather some clues on how to thwart them.
I’d assumed that they had created an egg chamber in the outer wall, possibly moving them in and out to take best advantage of the daily warmth. Their reaction to our invasion of “their” space didn’t make us think they had any such concerns. Since there’s no food in there, it’s hard to say what brings them in.
From what we can see, the remaining logs are sound, so we should be in pretty good shape if we can discourage them from going in and out. Besides what we’ve done inside, we’re increasing our efforts to eradicate the nests in the yard outside. Time will tell, as always, and our best assumption is that we’ve taken a couple steps forward, and will inevitably take some back.