Ants & Termites

Out in our shed we had lots of little bitty ants. More than I have EVER seen before. In the past we've had good luck with Terro for these kind of ants, but this time the Terro didn't even seem to put a dent in them. An exterminator was over at the neighbor's so I got him over to look at the situation. He showed me where the trail of ants was leading over to an interior wall of the shed. This is an old shed, and it's divided in 2 parts by a wall that has siding on both sides. He showed me the mud lines along the seams of the siding. Mud lines from termites inside that wall. He told me ants are a natural predator of termites, and the ants were feeding on the termites and then bringing the food outside to their nest. I could see the ants carrying little bits on their way out. When I made the guess to him that the ants would take care of the termite problem, he then said the termites would start multiplying in force and not be killed off completely. He gave me a bid of $250. to take care of the termites and ants. I told him I'd think about it. A couple of days later the ants were all gone. I had given up on the Terro much earlier so I don't think it was the Terro that did it. Do you think the exterminator was telling me fibs, and the ants did kill off all of the termites and then quit coming in to the wall because there was no food there for them anymore?
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I don't know about the termites - and I don't know about outside ants. But I can tell you that this year we have had a lot of very tiny ants in our kitchen. And I learned one thing....Terro that was left over from last year would not work on them. I tried it several times and it did nothing. I went down and bought some new Terro .... and the ants were gone almost overnight.
I doubt if the ants killed the termites. If this is an old shed (as opposed to main house where you live) I would call around and find some termite poison and try to treat it myself.
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Patty O wrote:

ants that leave a trail of dirt along a seam on a plastic fence. Termite mud tubes are quite different, and would lead from ground to wood. You can scrape away mud tubes, and if they aren't re-built, then the colony is no longer active. Scrape away the stuff on your seams, tap around and poke into the wood with an awl or screw driver. If termites have eaten into the wood, you should be able to detect some deteriorated wood signs - blistery looking paint, hollow sound to wood, or probe digging right into the wood. $250 to treat a shed seems a bit steep - would probably buy a lot of new wood :o)
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Well, He was right about the "ants preying on the termites" part, I'll attest. Tom Patty O wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Patty O) wrote in

I moved to the mid south a couple of yrs ago from way north where there are no fire ants or termites at all. Quickly learned about the fire ants and just how nasty they can be. Property had been vacant for some time. Fire ants had many many mounds in the undisturbed grass. To get them managed initially I called an exterminator to come juice the mounds and foundation. She did say the one good thing about fire ants was they will kill termites.
One day I find an old piece of wood way in the back of the yard. I pull it up to toss out and there's termites in it. What I learned about fire ant mounds is you tap around it and in a matter of a few seconds hundreds are pouring out to kill whatever. So I put this piece of termite ridden wood next to a decent fire ant pile. Tap on the ground with my shoe toe. Out they came. You shoulda seen those ants tear them up climbing into the holes and pulling out what was hidden too. I figure must take like chicken to them.
So, fire ants and termites have a useful purpose - entertainment.
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clipped

Don't forget the carpenter ants! They are awesome - they have strong jays and can hang on to skin like nothing I have seen. When my grandson was a toddler, he liked to pick them up and squash them between his fingers! Ick! Our tree trimmer, once in a while, comes flying down the ladder and does a dance to get the nasties off himself. Termies and carpenter ants share housing, but seem to alternate in dominance year to year. Disturb a carpenter ant mound and they come pouring out with their offspring on their backs. Hubby and I used to time fire ants coming out to eat the bait we laid down - record was 24 seconds :o) I understand africanized bees are in Florida - doubt they will be as entertaining, butcha never know.
I used to do nature photography and when I was new to Florida, I thought mebbe my tripod had a fire ant-mound magnet in it; never failed that I would have a perfect shot ready to shoot on top of a fire ant mound with the nasties crawling on my feet :o)
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You needed to give that youngin' a magnifying glass and show him how to use it with the sun. They love the Snap-Cracle-Pop!

I think you timed a fire ant nursing home.

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On Sat, 8 Jul 2006 14:45:53 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Patty O) wrote:

I have doubts the exterminator was telling you fibs. The bid sound high for a shed, so in this case you might consider treating the problem yourself. See if the colony is active, poke around the wood to search for damage using an awl, use a product made for termites, and periodically re-inspect. Keep the area around the shed clean, dry, and clutter-free. I give my house a five-minute foundation inspection about once a month--no termites yet!
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I don't know about the ants, but if you don't pay the exterminator his $250, he'll probably disappear along with the ants. When the food is gone, the termites will be gone...and your shed.
Randy R. Cox
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@webtv.net says... :) Out in our shed we had lots of little bitty ants. More than I have EVER :) seen before. In the past we've had good luck with Terro for these kind :) of ants, but this time the Terro didn't even seem to put a dent in them.
Ants diets change for the needs of the colony. One time a sugar bait works great, the next time if they are feeding on proteins so they totally ignore it. Another situation depending on the type of ant, foraging ant trails are just a small percentage of the colony. So when you have a few dozen ants at a time in the kitchen putting out the bait can get quick results on a nest of a thousand or so ants. A foraging trail of a colony with a population of 200,000 can end up being a trail of "More than I have EVER seen before" and can take quite awhile before you see a noticeable reduction with the baits.
:) An exterminator was over at the neighbor's so I got him over to look at :) the situation. He showed me where the trail of ants was leading over to :) an interior wall of the shed. This is an old shed, and it's divided in :) 2 parts by a wall that has siding on both sides. He showed me the mud :) lines along the seams of the siding. Mud lines from termites inside :) that wall. He told me ants are a natural predator of termites, and the :) ants were feeding on the termites and then bringing the food outside to :) their nest. I could see the ants carrying little bits on their way out. :) When I made the guess to him that the ants would take care of the :) termite problem, he then said the termites would start multiplying in :) force and not be killed off completely.
Some ants are natural predators to termites, the tiny ants will not be. I have never heard of the ants that do forage on termites,(fire ants, carpenter ants) being able to eliminate a termite colony.
:) He gave me a bid of $250. to :) take care of the termites and ants. I told him I'd think about it. :) A couple of days later the ants were all gone. I had given up on the :) Terro much earlier so I don't think it was the Terro that did it. :) Do you think the exterminator was telling me fibs, and the ants did kill :) off all of the termites and then quit coming in to the wall because :) there was no food there for them anymore? Possibly the Terro worked after more time but I would guess what you were seeing was the colony in transit moving from one nest site to another and what you thought was "food particles" may of been eggs/pupa/larvae the ants were carrying to the new nest site. Really impossible to say for sure.
--
Lar

It is said that the early bird gets the worm,
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Lar, That was interesting and very informative. Thanks for the response.
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Dottie, I never thought about Terro becoming ineffective as it ages, but I went through my old bottle the 2nd day and bought a new one and used it the next 3 days. I still had ants for the next 7 - 10 days so I don't think age was an issue, but thanks for the tip. Terro usually works pretty quick and now 2 or 3 weeks later the ants are gone, so that's why I thought they might have completely killed off the termite colony.
Normin & Phisherman, The siding is 4' wide sheets so the seams run vertically. The mud lines along the seams start at the floor and go about half way up. I suppose I'll peel the corner of a sheet away and see what it looks like inside. Hope they're all dead or gone!
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