The Ants Go Marching

by Josh on July 8, 2006 · 6 comments

in Journal

PICT1598 Over the past few days I have noticed ants crawling up the outside wall of the house. If our house was painted dark, I would never have spotted them, but on the cream colored stucco the ants are easy to see.

I haven’t noticed ants around inside the house, and these large black ants are different than the little brown ones that can show up when the fruit basket on the counter gets a little too ripe. Unlike those critters, these ants are not coming into the house looking for food, they are leaving the house empty-mandibled and return with bits of food in their jaws. Whatever they are building or feeding, I don’t want it in my house.

PICT1588 From what I’ve seen, the ants are gathering at a small gap where the wall of the rear addition meets the original rafters. The clearance there is only half an inch, so it’s hard to know how well sealed the wall is there.

For right now, I have put out some ant baits that should take care of the current colony, but the long-term solution will be to make sure there isn’t a point of entry for insects at this place in the wall/roof. The gap is a bit too large for caulk, so I will try to fashion a shim to fit between the rafter and the wall. Then I can caulk any remaining gap.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Brittney July 8, 2006 at 11:02 pm

I recommend having a pest control person come out and take a look — large black ants could be carpenter ants. 🙁 We had a carpenter ant problem (and they gave me the willies) and found out they’d done considerable damage to the support beams under our back porch. Getting rid of them is pretty easy (unlike termites), but they can do some serious damage if left to their own devices.

http://www.thehallway.net/hallhouse_porch04.htm

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Josh July 8, 2006 at 11:50 pm

Thanks for the advice, Brittney. Maybe the pest control person can help me with the pigeons, too… Grrrr.

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Aaron Gebauer July 11, 2006 at 2:32 pm

Hi Josh. You may recall that Megan and I have dealt with carpenter ants at our place. When we moved in, they had pretty much established a highway between our house and our larch tree out back.

We tried a pest control service for a year, but these measures had little effect. Finally, after some research on line, including the MN Extension Service, I concluded the best way to be rid of them was to disturb their nest.

In order to find the nest, I had to take some time to follow their trail. I picked an ant at random (so many ants!) and followed it for a while. Sure enough, it went from the tree to the house, but ended up going through the garden (rose bushes too…ouch!). On my hands and knees, I followed the ant into the garden, and almost to the house, where it disappeared into the ground. I dug into the ground with the stick, in what seemed like a vain attempt to see where it went. In the process, I uncovered an entire swarm of ants that erupted from the ground. The swarm was right next to our house! No wonder they had frequently invaded the indoors.

After I dug up the nest sufficiently, we didn’t see many of them after that. The tree didn’t have ants for a long time afterwards, and they disappeared from the house. A small amount of time to observe their behaviour and follow them around yeilded some pretty good results.

Just last weekend, I saw one or two ants entering the larch tree. I fear it may be too late for the tree, and a tree inspection will tell us for sure. Now, after seeing them start to re-appear, I think it’s time to go ant-hunting again.

Good luck with your ant problem. If traps don’t work, try finding their nest.

Until later…

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OddMix July 12, 2006 at 8:31 am

As far as plugging the gap goes I would try first spraying in a persistent insectacide, then filling with expanding foam insulation, and then applying the insectacide to the outside.

I also second the notion of an exterminator – you may have a much bigger problem than you realize. Yikes.

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Josh July 12, 2006 at 9:57 am

Ant hunting… expanding foam… all great ideas– thanks! Aaron, I had forgotten all about your ant issues. I don’t think we have it quite as bad as what you describe, but I’ll need to go hunting to know more.

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