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Greg and Lori's two questions

Termite and carpenter ant problems?

Hi how are you?  Glad I found you on the internet. What a great tool!

Ok, I have two separate questions for you.  First, both of my neighbors have termites.  I have had several companies come out to look at my home.  All pretty much gave me the same evaluation, except for the price of their treatments.  None found any termites inside of my home, however they have found them in the soil around my home.  About 3ft away.  Now, 1 company insists that they have to drill my front stoop, and the floor of my garage.  Another says we just need to drill my front stoop and inject the chemical in the ground around the permeter of our
home.  The third says just to do the treatment around my home, since there is no evidence of infestation in our home.  What do you think?  If we just needed the treatments around the permeter of our home could we by the chemical ourselves and do it ourselves.  My husband does everything in this house when needed he is very good at fixing anything!  If so where do we obtain the chemicals and what is the best brand.  We live in Northern VA, and the ground right now is very dry.  

Next question, my Mother-in-Law has been calling my husband panicing because her neighbor insists that she has a problem with carpenter ants that must be addressed immediately!!  She has two large old trees located near her house, her neighbor has found carpenter ants in the tree and is telling her that they climb the trees and get onto her roof and eat her roof.  (She just had her roof replaced 1 year ago, and there was no evidence of any bugs.)  Her neighbor has her convinced that the cause of his roof damage is because of carpenterants, and she is headed for disaster.  He is telling that theses trees need to come down.  This is a very expensive option for her, estimates for each tree removal is well over $1,000.00 each.  What
do you think?  Should we just call an exterminator and spray, or remove the trees?  She is convinced that these pests are now at war with her!

Lori Gibson

And I wrote back with....

Hello, Lori:

Anyway, your problem(s) are no problem!  You'll be very happy to learn that neither you nor your mother-in-law needs to do anything.  At least not right now.

The time to get your house treated is when you "get" termites.  Not before.  And when I say "get," I mean that an inspector can SHOW you termites, INSIDE (or at least ON the outside) your home.  Just because your neighbors have termites it doesn't mean that you do - or that the termites will be "chased" over to you.  And forget fences, wood on the ground, railroad ties or other non-habitable structures not attached to your house.  They don't count.  Only termites, IN the house, that the termite inspector can show you.  Or, in the alternative, when you experience swarming termites on the inside.  All three of your described companies are just trying to get some of your money - some want a lot, some are happy with a smaller amount, that's the long and the short of it.  You can check what I say about "preventive treatments" on my website - if you haven't already.  Check it at:


That's my termite page and it will also answer your concern about "doing it yourself" - it's not something that you can easily do.  The most effective chemicals are restricted to exterminators, in most states, and certainly in Virginia, home of the National Pest Control Association!

Generally, I tell people to wait - until the termites show up.  And show up they will - it's just that you don't know whether that's going to be this year, next year or twenty years from now.  And even though you have the job done now doesn't mean that you'll never get them anyway!  So save your money and skip unnecessary termite treatments.

First of all, ALL trees have carpenter ants.  Carpenter ants live in EVERY tree.  This is natural and normal and there is no product that will eliminate ants from a tree, and nor do you need to.  The ants will not attack a sound roof.  They will only attack wood that is already damaged by something else - usually water.  When you have a carpenter ant problem, it would be because of moisture problem - not necessarily the proximity of the ants.  So as long as there are no moisture problems, she shouldn't be worried about the ants.  You could trim the trees so they don't overhang a neighbor's house, but there is no reason to take trees down unless there is an imminent danger of the tree falling down and being a danger to person or property.  Depending on local laws, she might be required to trim the trees so no branches overhang other properties.

If there is no indication of imminent demise of the tree (besides the carpenter ants) there is no reason it has to be removed.  Certainly the mere presence of carpenter ants on a tree is no reason for removal.  There would be very few times in the life of a tree when there were no ants on it.  

As a tree ages, it does become less viable and may develop scars or other damage that carpenter ants will take advantage of.  The carpenter ants only come to these areas they can take advantage of easily, so this is why you see "older" trees that have lots of ants.  They don't harm the tree.

Hope this helps.  Get back to me if you have any more questions.


And Lori wrote back to say....

Thanks John.  It is nice of you to offer free advice.  Not much of that out there anymore.

Sorry I forgot to put my name on the questions.  You were correct that it was Greg's wife!

Thanks again I can't wait to show Greg and his mother!!

Lori Gibson

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