Find out how to deal with a carpenter ant problem. Get tips on having a pest control professional spray a product called Phantom.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ann in Seneca Falls, New York on the line who has some unwanted visitors to her home in the form of insects eating away. Tell us what’s going on.
ANN: Well, I have a two-car garage. It’s about 25 years old and it’s covered with vinyl siding  and the wood molding on the outside is covered with the aluminum frame/covering.
TOM: Siding. OK, trim, yep. Mm-hmm.
ANN: Yeah. And last spring, I noticed that one of the pieces of metal was rather loose. So I kind of tugged at it a little bit and it came out and I noticed that the carpenter ants  have really had quite a snack.
ANN: Most of the front of my garage is pretty well eaten away on the outside.
TOM: Oh, boy. OK.
ANN: Now, on the inside, it seems to be still intact.
ANN: And I pretty much know what you’re going to tell me; I need to replace the wood. But I’m just wondering, for the time being, if I could put some spray insulation in there to kind of fill in the voids? And then possibly reattach the metal molding for just over the wintertime, until I can get to it next summer?
TOM: Well, I mean the good thing is that the carpenter ants are also leaving for the winter, so you don’t have to worry about them for a while.
ANN: Well, I’ve been spraying. They seem – I haven’t seen any activity out there. I’ve really been spraying at least once a week with …
TOM: OK. So here’s what I would do. First of all, I would try to make sure that we just keep it weather-tight for the winter, so whatever it takes to make it weather-tight is what we need to do.
Secondly, next spring, I would consider having a professional apply a type of product called Phantom – P-h-a-n-t-o-m. It’s an undetectable ant-and-termite treatment product. And when you put the Phantom down, the carpenter ants won’t know it’s there and they go through it, they get it on their bodies, take it back to the nest and it wipes out the whole colony.
ANN: Oh, good.
TOM: Definitely the most effective way to keep them under control. It’s really a population-control issue with ants, because they just reproduce and reproduce and reproduce and it can do a lot of damage.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. They love to breed.
ANN: Yes, they certainly have.
TOM: So, you’re going to have to have it done by a professional, though, with a product called Phantom. There’s actually a product – another product called Termidor – which I like even more but …
LESLIE: But we can’t get it in New York.
TOM: You can’t get it in New York. You can get it everywhere else in the country but New York. But in New York, the same company, which is BASF, makes a product called Phantom, which is available and approved for use in New York State.
ANN: OK. Fine. And then, I probably will have to have the vinyl siding  taken off in the front and then whatever wood has been eaten replaced?
TOM: Yeah. If it’s just – is it the sheathing that you’re concerned about?
ANN: It’s the outside sheathing.
ANN: It doesn’t seem to be on the inside of the garage.
TOM: Yeah, so you’re going to have to try to replace as much of that as you can reasonably get to. It’s a matter of degree. You know, you may not necessarily have to tear it all out; you might just be able to do this in small sections.
ANN: Oh, good.
TOM: But yeah, I think that you just want to get as much as you reasonably can. There are other ways to support the wall from the inside if that becomes easier and you don’t have to take off as much siding. But get it treated in the spring so that we know the ants are under control, OK?
ANN: OK. Would it help, also, if I filled in the openings in the cement blocks that are in the part of the basement?
TOM: No. Listen, you can’t stuff stuff in the way of these ants.
LESLIE: They’re going to find their way through.
TOM: They’re going to find their way in, OK? It’s not – it doesn’t work that way. So I want you to concentrate – first of all, because you’re going away for the winter, I want you to concentrate on getting this thing watertight. When you come back, contact a reliable pest-control operator. Have them do a Phantom treatment. The website for the product is PhantomHome.com . They’ve got a zip-code search tool there. You can find all of the guys in your area that use the product. You can choose one, have it applied.
And then lastly, after it’s applied, you can work on the repairs.