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Permaculture solutions for termites/carpenter ants/etc.

 
Posts: 78
Location: zone 6
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Hello

We live in a log cabin and have recently discovered a new colony of carpenter ants marching in and gnawing the walls in the wee hours of the morning.

Today as I was reading to "buy this dust or that gel" I caught myself thinking hypothetically (realistically if you ask me) "How in the world do I keep these little fellas away if I'm in a situation where I can't purchase the solution?!" (i.e. societal/system collapse, etc)

Will guinea fowl  take care of termites & ants, too? I am looking for solutions. Any advice would be much appreciated ) (we've also got a wood bee dilemma.....man, you'd think living way out in the forest, there'd be plenty of wood to go around and we could remain unbothered in our cozy little cabin...go figure)  :p

Many thanks!
 
master pollinator
Posts: 10968
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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We seem to be able to keep down the population of critters around and under the house by letting chickens roam the yard.  So far no termites in the house though we do have one colony of carpenter ants I might need to do something about.  Mostly we have a "live and let live" policy - which might come to bite us in the backsides in the future. 

Guineas are supposed to be even better insect foragers than chickens, so I think that is definitely something to try.
 
Savannah Thomerson
Posts: 78
Location: zone 6
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Aye, as far as I understand, a colony of carpenter ants can do some severe damage to the integrity of a home over time.

The live & let live mantra is a good one, though. Maybe I can kindly ask the carpenter ants to go someplace else

(and get guinea)  :p
 
steward
Posts: 7926
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Tanacetum vulgare, (Tansy) planted around where ants enter will repel them.  I don't know if it works for all ants, but they certainly quit entering our house with a few plants around the doors.  They also repel some flies, gnats, and other thugs.  They are a  perrenial, quite hardy, and will give dense clusters of bright yellow flowers for much of the summer.  Keep a careful eye on them, as they can become invasive.
 
Savannah Thomerson
Posts: 78
Location: zone 6
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John Polk wrote:
Tanacetum vulgare, (Tansy) planted around where ants enter will repel them.  I don't know if it works for all ants, but they certainly quit entering our house with a few plants around the doors.  They also repel some flies, gnats, and other thugs.  They are a  perrenial, quite hardy, and will give dense clusters of bright yellow flowers for much of the summer.  Keep a careful eye on them, as they can become invasive.



THANK you!
 
steward
Posts: 3446
Location: woodland, washington
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be real careful with tansy if you've got livestock.  it can be handy stuff, though.  scattering the flowers around a kitchen or picnic area keeps most bugs away.  hadn't thought of it for carpenter ants, though.  I may try that.

depending on where you live, you may have trouble buying seed.  because it may be illegal to grow.
 
Posts: 175
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I would be really cautious with letting carpenter ants live in your house.  They can cause thousands of dollars worth of structural damage in not all that long.  They don't eat the wood but they create long tunnels through the wood thus degrading the structural integrity.    the easiest solution for removal is to find the nest and destroy it.          I like to let live too but letting them live has the potential to alter your living with a hefty repair bill
 
pollinator
Posts: 243
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So I went googling but no answers in this thread. I'm thinking borax, diatomaceous earth but I am well away from any real answers.
 
Posts: 82
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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WD40 for pest control.

CARPENTER ANTS...nasty, big, crunchy ants that burrow in your home essentially disintegrating wood, usually important support beams, to create "galleries" (nurseries, food storage, living space), they don't actually eat the wood, just excavate!  So, as much as I am against killing inconvenient animals/birds/pests, this is one that is exempt from any form of live and let live.

The solutions are primarily horrific pest control products that are toxic, dangerous to pets and livestock and often frightfully expensive.

Borax (boric acid), yes, is great, assuming you do not have dogs or other animals that will be attracted to the sweet bait - borax is toxic to dogs (and most likely other animals) and it gets mixed something like three tables spoons in a cup of sugar water solution (like humming bird sugar water).  Ants feed on it and it kills them (ingested or inhaled it is toxic to everything, including humans, in sufficient quantities it damages multiple systems internally and yes, can be fatal if intoxication is severe enough).  This is what most over the counter ant bait type products are based on.

My new friend, although it may not exactly be environmentally friendly, is good old WD40.  Yes, it is a petroleum based product (no, contrary to many beliefs it is NOT made from fish oil - go look at the WD40 website under myths), but dang, it does a number on carpenter ants.  Due to a fire in our home (please put smoke detector in your attic!  Any fire up there WILL NOT trigger smoke alarms within your home) we are currently in rental accommodations with 11 dogs, darned if I was going to have the landlord call in Pest company to spray who knows what where my dogs go, but killing literally hundreds and hundreds a day on a 3x8 foot deck/balcony that is the dogs only access to the yard was not sustainable - one swat with flyswatter would kill 3-4 ants, ugh.  So I watched the buggers, and pinpointed where they kept appearing from, stuck the WD40 nozzle up there and sprayed up, down, in and around.  After 2-3 applications each day, over two days it appears to have been very successful, I have only killed 10 all day!!  Went down stairs to lower patio and discovered another swarm of hundreds, crushed them all leaving just a few to spy on, pinpointed their entrance and sprayed - four hours later and there is less than 10 anywhere within 20 feet.

I have also used this, at night, with nasty wasp nests - stuck it right in the holes and blasted away, next day, a few "crawlers" but no flyers and a bunch of dead on the ground beneath the nest.  

I assume both the ants and wasps are potentially poisonous, so I sweep up and burn all the victims, and now the actual wasp nest is dead, it is safe to knock it down and add to the burn pile. The carpenter ant nests are in the walls - they can stay there and rot...

PS: it also, apparently works on most bugs I discovered when I "googled" it, including carpenter bees (I assume that is wood bees), but I hate the though of killing anything that is so good for pollination.  If you fear they are doing serious damage to the logs, then you have no choice, structural integrity must come before pretty much everything else.
 
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