19 May 2010

The Ant Annihilation has begun

Every year I have ants in my yard, most everybody does. I can tolerate a fair number of ants before deciding that they are ruining my lawn. But I will not have them living in my house.

Apparently, most houses have ant hills in the sand under the foundation. If there are enough dry winters in a row the colony gets huge and has nowhere to go but up. Four years ago they invaded my basement so I called the exterminator and had the basement sprayed. Whatever they used worked wonders - there were no more ants in the house at all. And the spray even killed what we call 'wood bugs' (brownish-grey beetle things) en masse. I vacuumed bug carcasses for several years and rarely saw them trundling across my floor. Until now.

Lately our living room has been the new ant destination. The exterminator said that if there is no food in the basement the ants will happily come up through the walls and onto the main floor. Goody. When the ants appeared in my basement several years ago, my boys were sleeping in that room and taking food down with them. Now that room is our exercise room and has no food at all in it. Our living room doesn't have a lot of food in it but if the ants are crawling up through the walls they must be using whatever highway is available to them and exit points are limited. They actually looked kinda funny when they would appear in the carpet. It was like the journey was hard and the carpet difficult to manage so they would be disoriented and a bit shaky. Then they would scurry for dear life as I aimed to squish them.

The exterminator came by yesterday and sprayed the living room...and now it STINKS in here. Small price to pay to discourage ants from joining us in our living room. Funny thing, both boys eat in their rooms and they are not neat about it. There is half eaten food laying around and cans of unfinished pop everywhere and there was not a single ant to be found in their rooms, and I have been watching.

While the poison was drying on the carpet I decided to take care of the ant hills in the yard. I found seven very large hills when I finally cut my grass last Friday. I managed to get rid of one ant hill last year by planting a mint plant directly on top of their home. Ants dislike mint so they moved...to my lawn. Now, I don't mind just forcing them to keep moving until they are no longer on the lawn (they can go to my neighbor's, I'm ok with that) but I really don't have the patience for it this year. The hills are just too big.

Earlier in the week we bought this stuff called AntOut that you attach to your hose and spray on your lawn. The bottle we bought was supposed to cover 3000 sq ft I believe. Instead of spraying my whole lawn I stood directly over the hill and sprayed it from about a foot away. I doused the hills until the poison was foaming and then I sprayed in a circle around the hills. When I checked on the hills a few hours later I couldn't see a single ant moving around. I know that in order to kill the colony you have to kill the queen, but I'm hoping to create such a horrible environment for the ants that they decide to leave. Or that maybe they bring the poison to the queen and she dies, that would be ideal.

While the exterminator was here we were talking about how they are limited now to what they can use as bug spray. Apparently the stuff is damaging to the environment, which I pretty much knew already. But some provinces, specifically Ontario, are barely allowed to use poisons at all. So instead of spraying to kill the wasps, ants and aphids, they have to find alternate measures or simply live with them.

And, did you know that ants and wasps farm aphids like we farm chickens? Seriously. They like the honeydew from the aphids. So if you ever see a tree with a thousand wasps flying around and no nest, they are busy farming. They used to be able to spray the trees to get rid of the pests, but now they can only spray if there is nobody around and the wind is less than 4 km/hr so they don't bother anymore.


Anonymous said...

Baba used to pour boiling water into the anthill. Worked well, although it did need repeating a few times. But I don't think it bothered her to repeat it - she seemed to take inordinate pleasure in killing the hill.

Before that, she used to use chloroform, which you could buy at any pharmacy. Ah... the good old days ;)

Love, Mom

The Hyperlexian Aspie said...

are these the wood bugs you were talking about?


they are called sowbugs. sowbugs are from an ancient strain of insects and are harmless, though they look kinda evil. they can't live indoors unless it is very wet; they die quickly when they are away from water.


The Hyperlexian Aspie said...

(which has nothing to do with anything.... just an FYI lol)

Chantelle said...

I can imagine Baba taking a great deal of pleasure in killing those ants. :)

You used to be able to buy morphine and cocaine at the pharmacy as well as chloroform, too. I wonder if there would be fewer problems with drug addicts if the drugs were distributed like alcohol was?

Anyways. Yes, here in Ontario many if not all municipalities have forbidden the use of pesticides and herbicides. We strongly support the decision because of the impact to the environment that these things have. Around here, we have some very sensitive moraines that feed the groundwater and that we need to preserve.

I've heard that boiling water will kill ants. When we've had them inside and I could see where they went, I've used diatomaceous earth (diatoms) or cinnamon: both cut open the ants and they die. Just sprinkle along their routes.

Ants really are amazing creatures. Their nests are quite amazing, too. Apparently some of the bigger nests have built-in airflow to them, and some people are looking at how that works with an eye towards air circulation in very tall buildings.