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Alternative to extermination?

 
Posts: 78
Location: zone 6
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Greetings all ~

We've been told recently that we have carpenter ants in our (log) home and the beginnings of a termite colony near the base of the home ( it is stilted ).

The exterminator has given us all of the treatment and future prevention package details but before going through with that, I want to check here to see if anyone knows of any effective alternatives to extermination.

A good friend of mine had a reaction to the pesticides used when a termite treatment was applied to her home and ended up moving out of it because she stayed sick. I'm sensitive to chemicals in this way, too, and am researching BEFORE committing to an extermination. I feel there's got to be other ways, any offered knowledge, experience, tips, or advice is appreciated

Cheers!
 
master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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If you know where the termite colony is you can destroy it by digging it out and smushing the inhabitants.  Same with carpenter ants.  This might mean having to open up some walls or drill into some logs.  Generally carpenter ants like to live in cracks between two surfaces.

Aggressive foraging birds like chickens and guinea fowl can help prevent termite and ant problems if you let them forage under the house.

 
Savannah Thomerson
Posts: 78
Location: zone 6
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Several months ago I discovered some carpenter ants in the house and, by listening - was certain I knew where their colony was. From there, I put a bit of dust through a crack in the logs and many ants (still) can be found dead around the corners.
However, since then - we have found two locations in the walls with those holes that look similar to this:
___________    ____      _____________        __
(___________)  (____)    (_____________)      (__)

which makes me wonder if they are not dying out, but perpetuating even?

We've introduced five guinea to the yard, they're still young, but hopefully it will help for the future.

I'm going to spend some time searching for the colonies .  . . and, go from there I believe.

Thanks muchly!
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
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This is just me, but I would personally choose to live with the ants if I couldn't get rid of them all, rather than have my house doused with poison.  But again, that's just me.  I have extreme prejudice against poison! 

We actually have a colony of carpenter ants in some metal trim outside a window onto a porch, which we've been too lazy to attack.  I know some people would say we're doomed to have our house eaten!  But I think they're just removing some kind of foam stuff inside the trim and not actually bothering the wood of the house at all...

I just went out to look at them and it looks like they've removed all the foam and are just living in the cavity inside the metal trim.  My husband has found carpenter ant colonies between pieces of metal in a car he was restoring, with no wood in sight. 
 
Savannah Thomerson
Posts: 78
Location: zone 6
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I'm not too keen on having the house doused with poison, either, H. Ludi - it contradicts our way of living entirely. So here I am - seeking out alternatives.

Living in a house made entirely of wood can certainly cause one to raise an eyebrow when they're told termites have been spotted and carpenter ants caused those holes in the wall.

Surely there's a nice balance somewhere. Would love to hear as many opinions as possible!

 
Mother Tree
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I have a rather vague and sketchy memory of a (Discovery Channel?) TV programme I watched fairly recently about some tribe somewhere who had an ant problem in their food stores.  They solved it by sending out the kids with a lidded pot and instructions on how to capture a nest of a much nastier but less invasive species of ant, who they brought back and set to work destroying the ants in their stores.

I really can't remember any other details but does anyone remember seeing this programme? 
 
Tyler Ludens
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Apparently the breeding nest of carpenter ants needs moisture for the eggs, but they create satellite nests which do not require moisture.  So to locate the queen may require finding where there is moisture or rotten wood.

More details:    http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/housingandclothing/DK1015.html
 
Savannah Thomerson
Posts: 78
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
Apparently the breeding nest of carpenter ants needs moisture for the eggs, but they create satellite nests which do not require moisture.  So to locate the queen may require finding where there is moisture or rotten wood.

More details:    http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/housingandclothing/DK1015.html



Hmmm. . . I've noticed some flashing missing from up on the roof.
We have to get out there soon to clean the chimney, will give everything a real good inspection while up there then!
 
Posts: 539
Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
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Hire an anteater. They're sensational at what they do.

 
Savannah Thomerson
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....WOW 
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
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And they're absolutely gorgeous!   

We have little "anteaters" called armadillos, but they only eat the ants they want to eat and generally find them by digging up my vegetable garden.   

In my yard, looking for ants in a stump, maybe:




 
Posts: 102
Location: Tampa, Florida zone 9A
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I have heard of the possibility of injecting borax into the wood...makes it unpalatible to the buggies and way less toxic than the stuff they use in tenting.

Unfortunately, I don't know the details because I have never done it.
 
                                                              
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Location: Waltham, Massachusetts
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LivingWind wrote:
Hire an anteater. They're sensational at what they do.




Haha that's classic!  Made me laugh out loud, greatly appreciated.  I think you may be on to something here... Ant eater rental service.  Talk about cheap labor.
 
George Lee
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I read a story in which a family in South America frequently leashed an anteater and rid their living area of forest ants (near the rainforest). Glad you enjoyed it
 
Posts: 93
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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Consider trying WD40.  I get that this may not be environmentally friendly, but allowing destruction that could cause failure in a critical wooden support isn't an option.

I posted my solution in another thread, but just in case, here are the Cliff Notes:  carpenter ants like damp/moist wood, if you have them, you have a problem that likely includes some sort of leak.  The Carpenter Ants tunnel the wood, creating "galleries" to live in, store their food, raise their young and hibernate until it gets nice and warm in spring.

Neither DE or Borax are harm free, in fact the first is quite dangerous if inhaled, and/or absorbed through the skin.  The second is literally toxic if inhaled or ingested, for insects, mammals and humans alike and is generally what is found in most commercial baits (boric acid) combined with a liquid that is sweet - a perfect attractant to dogs etc.

My recent success has been with WD40, a not so environmentally friendly product (as it is petroleum based) which can also be toxic if inhaled in sufficient quantities, but it sure did a number on the influx here.  They emerged at the beginning of the week, by Wednesday we were literally killing hundreds and hundreds (3-4 with one splat of the fly swatter) each day.  As we are in a rental property, with 11 dogs, our options were limited and I did not want the landlord calling in the Pest Control guys to spray/fog/inject who knows what 18 inches from the only door the dogs use to access the stairs to go to the yard.

Watched the ants, pinpointed where they kept emerging from, stuck the WD40 nozzle up there and let fly.  Did this 2-3 times Thursday, again yesterday, and today I have only found 11 on the upper stair landing where they were swarming in the hundreds.  Only to discover a second swarm down on the Patio today.  Squashed them all and watched, pinpointed the entrance, stuck in the nozzle and seem to have nailed it there - only seen a handful down there since and it has been five hours.

I used the same method on wasps at night (both paper and ground dwellers), and the next day, nothing flying, a few crawling, knocked down the nest, swept up the dead on the ground and burned the lot (I assume they insects are poisoned and not safe for other creatures to eat); dug up the wasp nest and tossed all dirt and bugs into the fire also.
 
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:Consider trying WD40.  I get that this may not be environmentally friendly, but allowing destruction that could cause failure in a critical wooden support isn't an option.

Neither DE or Borax are harm free, in fact the first is quite dangerous if inhaled, and/or absorbed through the skin.  The second is literally toxic if inhaled or ingested, for insects, mammals and humans alike and is generally what is found in most commercial baits (boric acid) combined with a liquid that is sweet - a perfect attractant to dogs etc...



Borax and boric acid are not the same compounds. The formula for boric acid is H3BO3, and the formula for Borax is B4Na2O7. Borax is a salt of boric acid. They have different effects.
Regarding ants, if wanting to keep things natural, I have found a very effective means to have them be gone within a half hour or so is to put a few drops of rose geranium essential oil wherever they are. They avoid the oil at all costs. I have done many experiments and spent quite a bit of time watching how they react to it. They will even leave their eggs behind if retrieving the eggs means they have to touch the oil. And all it takes is a few drops. It's been quite interesting to watch.
 
Posts: 89
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Didn't Paul Stamets have a Cordyceps innoculation in the works that would kill off the current infestation of termites or carpenter ants and then repel any new comers?
An old permies thread here https://permies.com/t/2346/controlling-ants-wee-bit-fungus

Perhaps someone with some google-fu can pull up recent developments.
 
gardener & author
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Annie Collins wrote:
Borax and boric acid are not the same compounds. The formula for boric acid is H3BO3, and the formula for Borax is B4Na2O7. Borax is a salt of boric acid. They have different effects.


I would be grateful if someone would explain which is used for what. Thanks!
 
Lorinne Anderson
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They are both considered "basically the same thing" as both contain BORON. "Although mined differently, from different minerals, in general the two materials act the same and in theory, can control pests equally well".

Both are toxic, causing nausea, vomiting, throat swelling....

It is usually mixed with something sweet to attract the pest making it a real risk for livestock and pets.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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CARPENTER ANT/WD40 UPDATE:  

It's been a week, I did have to resupply at Costco, but two large cans have done the trick.  It took some persistence:  daily respraying, watching, following, seeing how they circumvented the original deployment of wd40, but frankly I enjoyed the battle.  I discovered two more locations they were entering the house; how they were using the staircase; how they were going over 20 feet away to get up the siding on the other side of the house to circumvent my lines of WD40; but I do believe the war has been won.  There are still the odd stragglers, interestingly only super large or the smallest of the colony are seen on occasion now, in a day I will squish maybe 20...but compared to the hundreds and hundreds every hour before, I consider this success.  There has been no evidence of eggs being moved, and the initial colony locations (albeit, likely just satellites) seem to have been eradicated.

As this is a rental I will (hopefully) be leaving within by the end of June, I will not be able to monitor this long term.  But in the short term, it has worked for minimal cost, and without endangering the dogs (who completely avoided/ignored where the WD40 was sprayed) as the borax/boric acid could have.  

Oh, just a side note, many artificial sweeteners are also toxic to dogs (xylitol for one is generally fatal), so do be careful if using these type of substances for any purpose, as a sugar substitute, do your research.
 
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