Ants invade house again, this is war!

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Several times a year I undergo an ant invasion in my kitchen, principally. They always seem the same - very small black ants, at the most 1/10 inch long. This time, it's different. They are much larger, probably 2-3 times the mass of the usual ants and around 1/8 inch long, black. I'm in Berkeley, CA. Last week it was a little cooler and these ants were very slow, and they wandered all over my kitchen, all solitary (no trails) and I'd kill every one I saw with a sponge. I always keep things pretty clean, but they still come. They kept coming all week.
I used to use those little Antrol bottles with an opening years ago, with considerable success, placing the "traps" outside. For whatever reason, I've been unable to locate external nests or ant trails leading into my present house. I believe they are nesting in my walls, which have brick facade, with crumbling mortar and many large cracks.
About 2000 or 2001 I bought a small plastic viol of Victor Ant Control orthoboric acid sugar-ant solution (5% orthoboric acid, 95% "inert ingredients").
I had little success with the smaller ants using this, but these larger ants that began their invasion about a week ago just love the stuff and I've been giving them a steady and considerable diet of it for the last 36 hours. However, they don't seem to be letting up, much less dieing off. They're coming in large numbers now and forming trails. How long does it take (or does it work)? Is it possible the solution has gone bad sitting on my shelf for 6-7 years?
I suppose I can buy some boric acid at the pharmacy(?) and mix it with some pancake syrup or sugar solution in a concentration similar to the Victor stuff.
I'd appreciate some help because if I can't get the problem under control in the next 10 days, I'm going to have to pass up seeing my relatives at Thanksgiving and spend that 4 day period instead combating my insect invaders. Thanks for any help!
Dan
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This is what I do, YMMV. I buy the sacks of granules that look like sawdust. The ants carry them back to the nest, and that way you get the nest. Buy the bags that have the built in screen. You open the top, the screen's there, there's a handle on the bottom, and you just walk around spreading the granules while you walk. Put it around foundations, in flower beds, etc. I like it because it is poison that is spread around lightly, but covers a large area. It's not something your pet would eat. It just falls on the ground, and you can spread it specifically where you want it.
Works for me.
Steve
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Ant problems are pretty much a fact of life in the Bay Area.

Examine the trails, really, really carefully. Where are they coming from and where are they going to?
Very often, they are seeking water. They will find tiny leaks in pipes/faucets/drains long before they become visible to the human occupants. In that case, plug the leak before you have to deal with mold, rot and other issues. If they've found a food source, move the stuff to an airtight container.
Personally, I spray the outside of my house every 2-3 months using a professional-grade spray. That's essentially solved the problem for me. And although I don't really like using these chemicals, at least they're used outside. Without that, the ants *will* come indoors and I'll have to start using chemicals inside and that's worse.
You can find gallon sized ant sprays at Home Depot and some of these are approved for indoor as well as outdoor use. Ortho is one such brand. In my experience, these are very effective, but not for very long. The ants are back within a few weeks and that's why I use a more potent/persistent product. Nevertheless, something like the Ortho should get rid of the ants for the Thanksgiving holiday.
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On Wed, 08 Nov 2006 18:17:20 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@malch.com (Malcolm Hoar) wrote:
:Examine the trails, really, really carefully. Where are they coming :from and where are they going to? : :Very often, they are seeking water. They will find tiny leaks :in pipes/faucets/drains long before they become visible to the :human occupants. In that case, plug the leak before you have to :deal with mold, rot and other issues. If they've found a food :source, move the stuff to an airtight container. : :Personally, I spray the outside of my house every 2-3 months :using a professional-grade spray. That's essentially solved :the problem for me. And although I don't really like using :these chemicals, at least they're used outside. Without that, :the ants *will* come indoors and I'll have to start using :chemicals inside and that's worse. : :You can find gallon sized ant sprays at Home Depot and some :of these are approved for indoor as well as outdoor use. :Ortho is one such brand. In my experience, these are very :effective, but not for very long. The ants are back within :a few weeks and that's why I use a more potent/persistent :product. Nevertheless, something like the Ortho should get :rid of the ants for the Thanksgiving holiday.
What exactly are you using and where do you get it? Thanks.
Dan
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Malathion works well. Put it in a hose applicator and spray a perimeter line around the house. Don't let it in the house.
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snipped-for-privacy@PremoveOBthisOX.COM says...

Malathion only will have a residual for a few days though, plus much more odor than most other products
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Lar
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"Suspend SC". It's not available retail but you can find it on-line. e.g.:
http://www.doyourownpestcontrol.com/suspend.htm
I spray the outside of the house -- a narrow 6-12 inch border around the perimeter every 2-3 months in the summer and 3-4 months in the winter. Also around the trunks of some shrubs and trees that touch the house.
A one pint bottle will protect my 2500 sq ft single family home for about 2.5 years.
It's solved my problem for the last couple of years. I have seen the ocassional scout ant but that really is all we've seen inside the house.
I treat this stuff with considerable respect -- only spray when the kids are away for a few hours, on a calm day, while wearing gloves etc. The spray nozzle is set to wet a small area without any fine mist so I'm in control of where it ends up.
I've been in the Bay Area for about 14 years and each home I've owned has had ant problems -- even a 4th floor condo! The Suspend SC really does seem to keep 'em outside.
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On Thu, 09 Nov 2006 00:10:29 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@malch.com (Malcolm Hoar) wrote:
:I've been in the Bay Area for about 14 years and each :home I've owned has had ant problems -- even a 4th floor :condo! The Suspend SC really does seem to keep 'em outside.
Thanks! I'm afraid it wouldn't work in my case if my thinking is correct that the ants are residing in the house itself, in the walls. I went outside a few days ago and carefully inspected the entire perimeter of the house and couldn't find a single ant on the walls, windows, whatever!
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Even if they're nesting inside the house, they still need food. If their food source is indoors, you need to eliminate it. Otherwise, they must be going outdoors to find food.
I suspect there *is* an indoor/outdoor trail, somewhere. It's not always at ground level. They may be entering the house via a tree/plant/trellice or some other structure, even overhead wires.
As I said before, follow those trails. If the ants are residing entirely in your home, the trails will help you find the food supply they've already found. And if you eliminate that, you'll be well on the way to solving the problem.
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says...

Boric acid doesn't go bad, if the ants are eating the bait and ingesting the boric acid they will die. Boric acid is a slow acting stomach poison so sometimes weeks are needed depending on the ant population to see results.
Ant success can also be aided by knowing what type of ant you are dealing with, letting you know where they may be nesting at and so on. If by chance the new invader gives off an odor when you smash it, it is an Odorous House Ant. They do not have typical ant nests, but are little nomads moving about. One day they may be in the leaf matter under the hedges next to the house, later that afternoon the colony is seen moving under the welcome mat on the porch, the next day they may be in the leaf matter in the gutters. But they will usually be found close to moisture, be it dampness from the sprinklers or a leaky pipe.
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Lar
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:says... :> I had little success with the smaller ants using this, but these larger :> ants that began their invasion about a week ago just love the stuff and :> I've been giving them a steady and considerable diet of it for the last :> 36 hours. However, they don't seem to be letting up, much less dieing :> off. They're coming in large numbers now and forming trails. How long :> does it take (or does it work)? Is it possible the solution has gone bad :> sitting on my shelf for 6-7 years? :> :> :Boric acid doesn't go bad, if the ants are eating the bait and ingesting :the boric acid they will die. Boric acid is a slow acting stomach poison :so sometimes weeks are needed depending on the ant population to see :results. : :Ant success can also be aided by knowing what type of ant you are :dealing with, letting you know where they may be nesting at and so on. :If by chance the new invader gives off an odor when you smash it, it is :an Odorous House Ant. They do not have typical ant nests, but are little :nomads moving about. One day they may be in the leaf matter under the :hedges next to the house, later that afternoon the colony is seen moving :under the welcome mat on the porch, the next day they may be in the leaf :matter in the gutters. But they will usually be found close to moisture, :be it dampness from the sprinklers or a leaky pipe.
I don't think these are Odorous House Ants. I think I have a pretty acute sense of smell and I've been squashing these bugs by the hundreds and hundreds and detected no odor whatsoever.
I have no idea how I can determine the variety short of possibly bringing some specimens to the U.C. Berkeley Extension Entomology folks, who I have visited a time or two, quite some time ago. Perhaps I'll give them a visit if I can't get things under control shortly. It's been nearly two days (44 hours) since I began feeding them the boric acid, and maybe their numbers are dwindling somewhat. I really need to feel I have a leg up on this problem before I fly out of here on Nov. 21st or I'm going to have to cancel the Thanksgiving plans. Thanks for the help!!
Dan
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says...

you would need to sniff your finger after the smashing...just don't let the neighbors witness this. If you have a digital camera and if you can get a clear shot that can see the antennae clearly, then email them out to local colleges or pest control companies.
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wrote:

Any ant strategy starts in figuring out what they are eating. Then you use that for a poison bait. You have the formula. 5% boric acid. Go from there. There are 2 basic food groups, sweet and protein. Sometimes ants will be very specific in what they eat. I had a particularly selerctive group of eaters here and I was able to teach them not to eat just about everything with baiting. They finally settled on nothing but dog food the dog had chewed and spit out. I used that to get themn eating and then tracking them back to the nest. A little dose of Ortho "ant and termite" killed them where they lived. Some ants will succome to simple baiting but others are smart enough to learn not to eat things that kill them. They have the ability to promote a new queen and start over. We have those "white foot" bastards around here. The only good thing about them is they seem to kill fire ants. The bad thing is they come into your house and fire ants don't (usually) do that.
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go the boric acid route using corn syrup or peanut butter as bait. Ants are either sweet or protein loving. Home Depot sell boric acid for about $5 a lb, a lifetime supply. Takes about a week to do them in.

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:go the boric acid route using corn syrup or peanut butter as bait. Ants are :either sweet or protein loving. Home Depot sell boric acid for about $5 a :lb, a lifetime supply. Takes about a week to do them in.
Thanks for the tips.
I believe I defeated a fledgling invasion of cockroaches some years ago with a judicious application or boric acid powder in a small boombox in the kitchen. I think they liked the heat coming from the transformer (it was winter and quite cool in the house). I don't think I have any more of the powder, though, so I'll check out HD.
It's been about 60 hours since I started feeding these ants the Victor boric acid solution and there are very few ants showing an interest now. It's down to a tiny trickle, whereas there were dozens and dozens feeding within the first day, and I had to replenish the bait many times. I'm hopeful that in a day or two I won't see any. However, I've seen an occasional smaller ant on the floor, a sentry (probably) from another species of ant, maybe a protein eater, is my thinking (because the smaller ants I've seen don't much care for the boric acid solution). I think I may chance leaving for Thanksgiving. The thought of coming home to a kitchen teaming with thousands of ants spooks me, though.
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You can buy "Roach Proof" at Home Depot. It is a boric acid fine powder. Make a "duster" by wrapping a cotton ball around a wire. Ants don't like agricultural lime or chalk either. There are numerous other products available, but the boric acid is effective, especially when mixed with a bait. "Terro" is a good product.
wrote:

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I've used plain old cinnamon a few times....doesn't kill them...but they hate it. Just sprinkle on your window sills and doors.... sprinkle some in your carpet if you've gotta.
It's also safe for kids/pets...and it makes your home a holiday smell. ;-)
Cinnamon is 50 cents a can at walmart under a generic label...might be worth a shot.
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wrote:
:I've used plain old cinnamon a few times....doesn't kill them...but :they hate it. :Just sprinkle on your window sills and doors.... sprinkle some in your :carpet if you've gotta. : :It's also safe for kids/pets...and it makes your home a holiday smell. :;-) : :Cinnamon is 50 cents a can at walmart under a generic label...might be :worth a shot.
Thanks! I used to try cayenne pepper. Don't know where I got that idea. Cinnamon is one thing I have plenty of. A former housemate laid a big old can on me he acquired while he did a stint in the Navy in the Mediterranean. I still have about 1/2 lb. left. I may lay a bit of it around while I'm out of town for some insurance.
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Put down small piles of cornmeal around where they come in. They eat it but can't digest it & they die.
Dan_Musicant wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com says...

The only downfall with this myth is that adult ants don't eat solid foods. They can't digest it because they can't eat it....
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