Beware of Planted Gifts

A neighbor of mine had some lettuce, cabbage and broccoli started and didn' t want to bother with them this fall/winter so she asked if I wanted them. Sure I said. It had been about a month when I noticed rows of dirt all over one of the pots. Further investigation reveals bugs and one of my loaded a nd flowering tomato plants is wilting. I got her pots out of the green hous e and started looking online to see what the bugs were. Any guesses? They w ere termites. Fortunately I had sprayed the wafer board walls, window sills and everything else with bleach. So far the other plants are ok. I sure di dn't expect anything like that let alone termites. MJ
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On Saturday, November 8, 2014 9:39:45 AM UTC-5, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

. Sure I said. It had been about a month when I noticed rows of dirt all ov er one of the pots. Further investigation reveals bugs and one of my loaded and flowering tomato plants is wilting. I got her pots out of the green ho use and started looking online to see what the bugs were. Any guesses? They were termites. Fortunately I had sprayed the wafer board walls, window sil ls and everything else with bleach. So far the other plants are ok. I sure didn't expect anything like that let alone termites.

Never spray bleach! It will destroy the nails or screws that hold the wafer board on.
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Steve Peek wrote: ...

and (not knowing what the waferboard is made of) may degrade pretty much any organic material quite badly.
songbird
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On Saturday, November 8, 2014 7:21:33 PM UTC-5, songbird wrote:

The waferboard has quite a thick coat of paint on it so I think that has helped. Still checking every day for signs and so far there are none MJ
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On 11/8/2014 9:39 AM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

so she asked if I wanted them. Sure I said. It had been about a month when I noticed rows of dirt all over one of the pots.
Further investigation reveals bugs and one of my loaded and flowering tomato plants is wilting.
I got her pots out of the green house and started looking online to see what the bugs were. Any guesses? They were termites.
Fortunately I had sprayed the wafer board walls, window sills and everything else with bleach. So far the other plants are ok.
I sure didn't expect anything like that let alone termites.

Having seen termites near the house and knowing that neighbors had treated for them I decided to get a contract with Terminex and treat my house for peace of mind. They injected Thermidor around the house and inspect annually.
Damned if a colony did not establish itself in a wood pile on my concrete patio about 5 feet from the house. Terminex came out and sprayed the bottom of the pile but apparently termites were just in a couple of pieces of rotted wet wood near the top of the pile.
This sounds like a similar situation. Nothing to panic over but something you should not neglect.
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Frank wrote: ...

a good ramble jumping off point. :)
termites, ants, bees, beetles, pillbugs, and of course many other insects are a part of the whole system which recycles organic materials. fungi are another critical part of that cycle.
while you may want to build with organic materials in areas prone to termites and such, it's usually a much better choice to use non-organic materials instead (glass, metal, stone, cement). you may pay more up front, but you can then avoid the use of poisons.
here we've got wood exterior with many points of possible entry into the house. i can seal it up with caulk, but that is at the cost each year (because the wood expands/contracts each year) much better could have been completely avoided using a different material. *sigh* we don't seem to have termites around much at all, but ants are another story.
i spent several days this past fall caulking and sealing up cracks to keep the ants out that were coming in (black carpenter ants are not to be ignored when you find them in your house). tracking them down, finding where they were coming in...
removing all dead wood from around the perimeter of the house and back about 100ft might keep those types of ants and termites from coming in, but if your house itself is wood in any way or even has an inviting crack in the exterior then you are vulnerable to ants. they are everywhere, and you can poison them all you want, but they will be back. they have millions of years of experience with dealing with the worst that the universe can throw at them and they are not going away any time soon.
the black ants that were coming in were actually coming from a nest over 70ft from the house. we have a lot of dead wood in various areas (left to rot intentionally, i'm not clearing it out) and it is there for good reasons so there will likely be other attempts to set up shop here in the house, but they first have to cross quite a distance of crushed limestone mulch so they aren't finding much organic materials in there to attract them further (water and insect remains i can't do much about). sometimes the black ants were finding a path which included crawling right over me and my perch here. that's no fun in the middle of the night...
another time we had ants set up shop in the ceiling of all places. figured that it must have been a new queen that landed on the roof and found a crack to get through and it was good enough for her... took us a few weeks to get rid of them once we found them crawling across the floor.
now that we have a better roof (another *grr!* and *sigh* aimed at my ex-step-dad who used the cheapest shingles and didn't do it right anyways so deserves a swift kick in the pants for that too) i'm hoping to not repeat that experience the rest of the time i'm living here.
the prime attractants to ants in the house itself would be the piles of flour, sugar, etc. that Ma keeps on hand to make stuff with. just a few crumbs found by a foraging scout and the game is on for the ant colony that strikes such gold. i'm pretty sure that if i did not keep a close eye on the perimeter and sealing up cracks that i can find that we'd be invaded by them quite a bit more.
i like ants, btw, they're facinating creatures. E.O. Wilson cowrote a great book on them called _the Ants_ and much more is being discovered.
songbird
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Derald wrote:

:)

yeah, fire ants are not something i would like to deal with (but they and i have met when i was vacationing in the south some years ago). have you heard of crazy ants? have those reached your area?

that would likely be true for roaches also.
songbird
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