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Old 07-17-2011, 11:27 PM   #1
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Thief Ants invading bathroom in summer


Hello there,
This started about 2 or more weeks ago when our bathroom was in a sloppy state. We hadn't done the laundry in a good while, and there were clothes on the floor. Finally, we gathered up all of our clothes, and realized that some teeny tiny brown/yellow ants had been crawling all around underneath.

I've done extensive research to learn about what sort of ants these could be, and I've pinpointed it down to the thief ant (not the pharaoh ant). The ants curl up into little balls when they die.

For the past week, I've set out a protein bait consisting of peanut butter and borax, and the ants are loving it. How long until they start dying off? And does anyone know a good, working ratio for the peanut butter borax combo? I noticed that as the ants eat the bait, the peanut butter becomes more powdery, almost as if they're eating around the Borax granules... am I just imagining that?

Please let me know if you have any advice! I really want them and their little queens dead!!!
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Old 07-18-2011, 08:35 AM   #2
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Thief Ants invading bathroom in summer


Stop making your own bait. Well trained chemists, entomologists, and technicians spent much time and money to have this figured out for us, so let's take advantage of that. Modern day insect baits are quite economical. Try the liquid ant baits available over the counter, boric acid is active ingredient. The smaller species of ants like it a lot. Ant baits work slowly so that they can take it back to the colony. When they are eating it, back off and let them eat. No spraying, cleaning or any disrupting.

Putting peanut butter and boric acid together doesn't mean that it has actually mixed/blended together. Chemists already figured out how to do it, so we don't have to re-invent the wheel. We can do other productive things. There are enough variables in insect control so that it only makes sense to eliminate as many variables as possible.
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Old 07-18-2011, 09:52 AM   #3
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Thief Ants invading bathroom in summer


Two questions for PABugman;

1) So were they actually eating around the boric acid then?

2) What economical protein ant baits would you recommend?
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Old 07-19-2011, 09:28 PM   #4
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Thief Ants invading bathroom in summer


Having same problem, bought bait stations with peanut butter and 5% borax inside, thief ants love it, been a week so far still no sign of them dying off. They just keep marching in a line back and forth from under the baseboard to ant station and back again. Have you had any progress?
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Old 07-20-2011, 05:43 PM   #5
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Thief Ants invading bathroom in summer


1) Don't know if they are eating around it or not. It's possible that the peanut butter is simply drying/dessicating.

2) I like carbohydrate based baits like the liquid ant bait that I described earlier. When I want protein based baits, I like the active ingredient: abamectin or avermectin. There are some brands of bait stations that market themselves as "dual choice" or equivalent. They have both protein and carbo based baits. Sounds like a good idea.

All ant baits work slowly so that they can take the bait back to the colony; if they worked too fast the workers would die too soon. Only the workers/foragers leave the colony. Again, don't spray or use heavy duty cleaners near your bait-you will repel the ants and work against your baiting strategy.
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Old 07-21-2011, 11:08 AM   #6
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Thief Ants invading bathroom in summer


Thanks. Also... I did try to find the nest... but I think it's going to be way to hard to locate where the thief ants are staying. It's very hot here right now, do you think they might actually have a nest inside the house?

Also, once I start baiting them, how long do you think it will take until they are exterminated? I heard that ants can divide up their colony if they notice they are dying in great numbers. I'm wondering if, even now, they've split up into multiple colonies, because initially, I was killing large numbers of the workers (oops).
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Old 07-21-2011, 03:40 PM   #7
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Thief Ants invading bathroom in summer


I believe that they do have a nest inside your house. Thief and pharaoh ants live close to where you see them. All the small ants forage close to their home, unlike carpenter ants which forage long distances. I understand that thief and pharaoh ants do "bud off" into more colonies when treated with repellent insecticides. Baiting should not do this, so it is the way to go.
Phantom is a good choice for spraying if you decide to do that. Non-repellent. You'd have to buy it on-line, and then only if your state allows it to be sold there.

You should see results within 7-10 days after acceptance, on average.
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Old 08-20-2011, 04:25 PM   #8
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Thief Ants invading bathroom in summer


I am having the same problem with thief ants. I started with a liquid bait with Borax in it, but it was very sticky and a lot of them seemed to just get stuck in it and drown. I also wasn't sure if they'd be able to carry it back or not, since they're so small. I bought a different commercial trap that said it was good for grease ants, and it looks as if it's made of peanut butter and borax. They definitely love it, but they leave a big pile of tiny crumbs behind, which is definitely not just dried out peanut butter, so I'm also wondering if they're eating around the borax because they're so small. Is that possible? What else should I try?

I don't know what else to do! I have been sleeping elsewhere for nearly a week as they're living in my bed (my mattress is a piece of foam on the ground - I've watched them burrow right into it, so I'm afraid the nest is actually in the mattress, as that's the only place I've seen them). I will be throwing it out, but I want to get rid of them first in case they're elsewhere in my room, so they don't just come back after I clean everything.

Thanks for any advice.
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Old 08-21-2011, 03:40 AM   #9
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Thief Ants invading bathroom in summer


We have had good success with the liquid baits that are taken back to the nest. We have ants every year and now put the bait down early in the spring so that the nests are wiped out before they get too big. Dont bother with the powders, the ready made liquid bait isn't expensive and as others have said its been tried and tested to have the correct ratios of active ingredients.
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Old 09-03-2011, 08:55 AM   #10
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Thief Ants invading bathroom in summer


I had similar problems. Thanks a lot for the ideas
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