Ants Cry Uncle - Thomas deHaas


The sight of ants can really freak you out. But if you step back, and do some research, they are not as big of a problem as you think.

About 2 weeks ago, we began to see ants in the kitchen. They were 3/8 to a half inch long. At first, we saw them on the windowsill and the counter around the sink. Some made their way across the room to the computer table. We found a couple on the kitchen table. Also, one in the living room and one in the bathroom. I assumed they were coming from under out screened in porch.

We cleaned all the leaves, debris, a bale of peat moss from under the deck and sprayed the foundation and gravel. The numbers dwindled but did not go away. We just kept killing what we saw. Then came last Saturday when I killed 20. It was time to act. Not spraying everything with pesticides but doing some research.

First step was to determine what kind of ant. I captured one and euthanized it with a sealed container and cotton ball with nail polish. Next, I looked for the number of nodes on the ants back. A carpenter ant has one node.

Carpenter ants can have satellite nests in the wall or wood structure of a house. I assume the main nest is in one of our large red maples in our back yard. The best way to control carpenter ants is to bait them. They consume the bait and return to the nest and feed their fellow ants. Eventually, the entire colony will contact the bait/toxin and eliminate the colony. We had ordered Fipronil bait, but this would not arrive for a week. A trip to the hardware store yielded 3 different baits with 3 different active ingredients: Borax, Spinosad, and Fipronil. All were listed for ant control.

Next was to find the trail the ants were using. I set all 3 baits along their path. Within minutes, one found the bait. Within the hour, 7 or 8 had discovered the bait. Then I began to track their movement. They traveled along the brown window frame and could hardly be seen. But at the top of the window, the seal had a slight gap.

Eureka! I had found the nest. For several hours there was a flurry of activity around the bait. They obviously preferred one over the other 2. It has been 2 days since baiting. I killed a straggler this morning, but I assume the colony is on its way out. I will bait above the window and caulk the space above the window.

The moral of this story: Don’t reach for the spray! Do a little research, think like an ant, and let the ants do the dirty work. Just facilitate their demise with the right bait. Ants Cry UNCLE!


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