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Old 04-04-2019, 11:22 AM   #1
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Ants on countertops, etc. not fire, not carpenter


I thought I'd post this, since everyone I know gets an ant problem once in a while. By that I mean a whole bunch of little ants get into your or your pets' food (or both), on the floor, counter, or cupboard.

I'm not a professional pest controller; if you are and disagree with what I say here, say so and tell me why.

As the title shows, this isn't about "Red Imported Fire Ants" or Carpenter Ants; they're literally different animals. The subject is those little ants that get into either sweet stuff or greasy stuff, get all over it, and gross everyone out.

There are a bunch of ant species, and some of them like our food, too. Some like sweets, some like "grease" i.e., meat, like bacon. They live in underground nests in giant colonies which are really huge families. The mothers are called queens and lay eggs, most of which hatch into sterile female "workers" who have no wings.

To find food, "foraging columns" will sally forth from a colony in various directions, crawling through everything to find something good to eat. When an ant does find something, she hurries home with the good news and soon a column of ants is coming to take off bits of whatever it is. (I think they use chemicals, as opposed to saying "let's eat girls!" but they do communicate, that's pretty clear.) This is why they seem to just pop up again and again, even after you've "gotten rid of them" before. (You haven't.)

And, if what they find is your or your pet's food, you get annoyed.

This is what I do: (a) brush as many ants off as I can and put food in freezer, if possible, including dry catfood, to hide from more ants, or failing that, toss it in the trash; (b) put away anything else they might like nearby they haven't gotten into yet; (c) scrub the immediate area with plenty of soap; and (d) treat with a bug killer containing pyrethrin. (d) is optional, if you're really squeamish about bug killers.

(c) is the most important part because that scrubs away the pheromone trails the ants leave to guide their sisters to the food. Scrub that away, and they're lost. (Do an experiment: find some ants in a line, and rub your finger hard on whatever they're crawling on for a few inches. They can't find their way! Do this with little kids and watch them think you're a genius or something. Muah ha ha! )

What's important to remember is that you're only stopping that feeding expedition that one time. The ant colony is still there, wherever it may be, and unless and until you get rid of it, you'll get re-visited again from the Ant Girls. (I'll cover that in another post.)

Basic prevention is mostly: (a) not leaving food around where the ants can find it when foraging, and that includes in your house; and (b) forcing yourself (I have to) to scrub down your countertops regularly. (b) especially will keep further problems to a minimum.

I wouldn't mess with spraying around the foundation with bug killers. The ants aren't hurting anything there. They also do good by acting as garbage collectors, eating up dead bugs, birds, rodents, etc.

(Though some people do point out that ants can make their way unseen into cupboards, which I guess provides at least some ground to spray the foundation. But everything I put in a cupboard is sealed to avoid that.)

Pyrethrin is a quick acting bug killer that won't stick around long, and is supposed to not hurt pets or you. Spray it on, let it dry, go about your business. I've used it a lot. If you don't like bug killer or hate spending the money, scrubbing works pretty well, too.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by DoomsDave; 04-04-2019 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 04-04-2019, 03:23 PM   #2
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Re: Ants on countertops, etc. not fire, not carpenter


Little sure and Borax worked great at my house. Never had the problem again in 9 years.
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Old 04-04-2019, 04:16 PM   #3
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Re: Ants on countertops, etc. not fire, not carpenter


Are you sure? My understanding is that pyrethrins are poisonous to cats.

Sorry, can't do a link on this cell.
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Old 04-04-2019, 07:35 PM   #4
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Re: Ants on countertops, etc. not fire, not carpenter


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Little sure and Borax worked great at my house. Never had the problem again in 9 years.
Was it borax or boric acid?
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Old 04-04-2019, 09:41 PM   #5
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Re: Ants on countertops, etc. not fire, not carpenter


Boric acid.
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Old 04-05-2019, 07:33 AM   #6
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Re: Ants on countertops, etc. not fire, not carpenter


I use Terro gel.
The ants eat it and carry it back to the nest, once the Queen eats it the whole nest dies out.
People flip out when they first use it, there will be hundreds of ants show up for a few days eating it, which is a good thing.
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Old 04-05-2019, 07:46 AM   #7
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Re: Ants on countertops, etc. not fire, not carpenter


I've only had ants in my kitchen once and Terro took care of them in short order.
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Old 04-05-2019, 08:00 AM   #8
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Re: Ants on countertops, etc. not fire, not carpenter


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I've only had ants in my kitchen once and Terro took care of them in short order.
I'll try that!

Learn something new every day. Sounds like they beat hell out of those ant stakes we used back in the 1980s.
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Old 04-05-2019, 08:18 AM   #9
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Re: Ants on countertops, etc. not fire, not carpenter


The thing with Terro is it's a bait, if you spray also it might not work. You want the ants to get to the Terro and bring it back to their nest. Spray can prevent that. Several yrs back we had gotten ants in our kitchen and spraying was only temporary. Once we quit using spray and went to the bait it wasn't no time and the ants were gone.
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Old 04-05-2019, 10:10 AM   #10
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Re: Ants on countertops, etc. not fire, not carpenter


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The thing with Terro is it's a bait, if you spray also it might not work. You want the ants to get to the Terro and bring it back to their nest. Spray can prevent that. Several yrs back we had gotten ants in our kitchen and spraying was only temporary. Once we quit using spray and went to the bait it wasn't no time and the ants were gone.
That's great.

Guess I'll have to walk back my thread, which I'm happy to do.

I used to use baits that didn't work.

It turns out that the Terro is available in California, too. (CA is big on banning pesticides, sometimes for silly reasons.)

I'm going to get some for when the ants invade the cat food again.

That's what I love about this site.

Next I'll do one on cockroaches, and maybe someone will have a foolproof nuclear option on that, too!
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Old 04-05-2019, 10:53 AM   #11
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Re: Ants on countertops, etc. not fire, not carpenter


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maybe someone will have a foolproof nuclear option on that, too!

Move to a colder climate! I used to live in fla and fighting roaches was an ongoing battle. I used to buy a certain product that was very effective but then it was banned. In climates prone to roaches you need to keep a clean house and spray monthly. ... and you'll still see a few. Where I live now I think you have to have a pretty nasty house before the cockroaches take hold.
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Old 04-05-2019, 11:12 AM   #12
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Re: Ants on countertops, etc. not fire, not carpenter


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Move to a colder climate! I used to live in fla and fighting roaches was an ongoing battle. I used to buy a certain product that was very effective but then it was banned. In climates prone to roaches you need to keep a clean house and spray monthly. ... and you'll still see a few. Where I live now I think you have to have a pretty nasty house before the cockroaches take hold.
I spent a summer in Pulaski county Kentucky, and there were these giant flying roaches EVERYWHERE. I left a bit of food out, ran in to get something and they were all over it like vultures after a few minutes.

A visitor left open a door and they flew in, and drank the dishwashing water.
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Old 04-05-2019, 11:28 AM   #13
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Re: Ants on countertops, etc. not fire, not carpenter


You can use a cake pan, or the like, full of water that you put the cat food dish in, until you get ants under control.

Some tropical areas use cat food cans with water under each chair & table leg. But, that's for really bad ants or cockroaches.
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Old 04-05-2019, 12:23 PM   #14
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Re: Ants on countertops, etc. not fire, not carpenter


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You can use a cake pan, or the like, full of water that you put the cat food dish in, until you get ants under control.

Some tropical areas use cat food cans with water under each chair & table leg. But, that's for really bad ants or cockroaches.
Thankfully, I don't have to go to those lengths. When (!) the ants come back to my kitties' feeding station (Hawg Troughs) I'll put out some of that Terro bait and wait.

My method above in the original post works great, but won't get rid of the nest. Hopefully the Terro will.
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Old 04-05-2019, 01:59 PM   #15
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Re: Ants on countertops, etc. not fire, not carpenter


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Thankfully, I don't have to go to those lengths. When (!) the ants come back to my kitties' feeding station (Hawg Troughs) I'll put out some of that Terro bait and wait.

My method above in the original post works great, but won't get rid of the nest. Hopefully the Terro will.
Isn't your area somewhat desert-like? Good luck with the endless ants.
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