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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Short version: Trying to determine if we have a serious issue or not. Wife is ready to call exterminator; I'm not.

Longer version: Basically, for the past few years, every spring we start seeing ants, mainly in the attic. Not a huge amount, but enough to want to do something about it. So each spring about this time of year, I've gone outside with a flashlight and find a trail or two coming to the house. I go with diatomaceous earth, boric acid powder; maybe a spray too; and then they go away. Until the next spring.

Seems to me a seasonal pattern, and each year foraging ants find a new way into the home. Unless we have nests inside and these are foragers going out and not in! (I know correlation does not necessarily mean causation, and it's possible that my treatments are doing nothing and the ants would naturally wind down after springtime.)

We had a particularly wet spring here in NE Ohio, so that may be increasing ant activity inside our house now in 2011. That coupled with this being at least the 3rd consecutive spring we've gone through this is making my wife concerned that we have a serious problem. Tonight I asked her how many--she said she's squashing 9 or 10 a day. Which to me, doesn't sound bad. But she's obviously more concerned than I am. I just don't think it's time to get in an exterminator for $800 or whatever in treatments, and what I'm doing each year is enough. (And this year, I'm determined to find the nest that is sending foragers into our house!)

So....does it sound like I'm underreacting? Any advice at this point?

Thanks!

Dante
 

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Not all bugs are bad but granted a nuisance. The ants you describe are tiny, black? And seasonal? Try cinnaman (sp?) in with your nice mix of relatively harmless ways to keep them out.

The deal is that if they are the seasonal ants looking for things in your kitchen? They are also chewing the coatings of flowers like peonies so they can bloom.

I learned over the years to just drown the spring ants in my kitchen with a spritzer bottle. Worked as well as insectisides. They will do their thing and be done soon for the year soon anyhow.

Only thing I cannot imagine them being attracted to as far up as your attic unless tree sap from the framing if you live in new construction.

From my experience carpenter ants don't just invite themselves for dinner each Spring and go away for the rest of the year.

Hate to say this, but take the spouse advice and call an exterminator if you want to find out what is going on and what you are facing. A good one will cost you a fraction of what you could waste on DIY box store chemicals you really do not want to be storing yourself anyhow. A good exterminator will have licenses for applying things you should not try on your own.
 

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It is difficult to tell with carpenter ants whether or not they are foraging from the exterior, or living indoors. Carpenter ants do forage long distances and are especially active in the spring. Since you don't see them year round indoors, that is a good sign indicating an exterior nest, but not necessarily. They may be living in attic voids, roofing, etc and simply change their travel patterns as time goes on. Apparently you are not seeing sawdust, frass, etc-that is also a good sign although they don't always chew the wood if they find a void space that they like.

Carpenter ants like to nest in mature trees. When the colony gets too large, a new queen develops and takes a cross-section of the colony with her. They relocate en masse and start a new colony called a "satellite colony". These satellites are usually the ones infesting and living inside house.

Learn about Termidor. Treat the exterior perimeter where foundation wall meets soil, patio slab, etc. Treat porches, soffits, where siding meets foundation wall, etc. Treat the trunks of trees, about 4-6 feet up from ground. Termidor is non-repellent so the ants won't avoid it as they do the products that you are using. Termidor can kill colonies as the foragers must return to the nest and do pass it to the rest of the colony. Termidor is labeled for exterior use only. Exterior treatments should eventually destroy interior colonies.

If you hire a pest control company, make sure they use Termidor outside. We treat carpenter ants as a one shot treatment for residential. We rarely get called back for warranty service. It can be bought on line, though I've never done so, nor do I know anyone who has. The advertised packaging is the original manufacturer. Do an internet search and see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the quick replies. Here's some more info in response to some of your comments, if it helps.

I'm fairly certain these are carpenter ants. And from my admittedly amateur's eye, I think everything we've seen in the house has been a major worker, although I've seen major and minor in the ant trails outside. If it means anything, one trail does seem to have many more majors come to think of it.

Also, our attic is not finished, but almost. Has a floor down and electricity and is insulated on the roof. So there can be plenty of voids there. And my wife is an artist and art teacher and uses that space as a creative space so she has lots of supplies that could be of interest to ants.

One of the trails is entering between the brick facing of the house and the siding right by the front door. (I know I have to re-caulk that; it's shrunk all over.) Straight shot vertical to attic; but if ants don't usually go up, then that may not matter.

We did have an ash tree removed 5 years ago and there was a big carpenter ant nest inside, but I had thought we got it, as we saw no more activity. The stump, although cut to the ground, is still there. We couldn't grind it due to its proximity to our deck. I also drenched the stump with something I bought back then, and have been trying to break it down with one of those stump enzyme things.

Also, we know there also used to be a big tree in the back yard that was removed a long time ago and the remains of that stump we can tell are still under the lawn.

So there's the mature trees story--at least on our property; there's plenty more within 100 yds!

I googled Termidor and it seems too good to be true; yet I"m reading all these customer reviews that said one application and ants are gone. I may try this after more research, just in case those were all stockholders...

Part of my reluctance to call a pro is that I'm pretty sure now we got taken advantage of a few houses ago. We had just moved to Toledo from Orlando, and my wife saw a few ants so we called the exterminator. After living in Florida for 4 years, you didn't mess around with ants or anything, and if you didn't have a pest guy coming every month, you were bound to get some kind of infestation. So I didn't think twice about agreeing. Called a national company and the sales guy came first to check it out and gave us the run down. Basically we had a $800 year contract, they drilled holes under the windows where we saw ants, even the dead ones and shot something underneath. He baited some carpenter ant nests outside and came back every month to spray the perimeter. I've read up in lots of places now, and in retrospect that just seems wrong.

OK, it's 11:20pm; time to get the flashlight and go outside...

Thanks,

Dante
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, Termidor looks like a good bet here. But I've also come across Dominion 2L which appears to work well too, and is almost 1/2 the price. It has a different active ingredient (Imidacloprid instead of Fipronil), is there any advantage to Dominion?

Thanks,

Dante
 

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Well, Termidor looks like a good bet here. But I've also come across Dominion 2L which appears to work well too, and is almost 1/2 the price. It has a different active ingredient (Imidacloprid instead of Fipronil), is there any advantage to Dominion?

Thanks,

Dante
I am waiting to use Dominon on ants as well, but from every study I read the Fipronil is much better at delayed kill so the dominioe effect is much better.

I have been baiting with a fipronil based bait and love the results thus far, but my problem is huge and the battle will be long..

PLAZ
 

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Fipronil is my first choice for ants; Bifenthrin and imidacloprid would be tied for second. Phantom would be my second choice, but you can't use it outdoors by the labeled directions.
 

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Fipronil is my first choice for ants; Bifenthrin and imidacloprid would be tied for second. Phantom would be my second choice, but you can't use it outdoors by the labeled directions.
PABugman, I have access to both via the internet. I have been using the comercialy available Combat and it seems to work. Would the results be any better with say a maxforce professional product ant bait gel.

Also do you recomend any granular baits for broadcast over lawn? I have been using Advance Carpenter Ant Bait (0.011% abamectin B1) but it is quite expensive and looking for an alternative..I will be baiting for a while.

They do love it and accept it readily..

Plaz
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've been using the over-the-counter Combat ant killing gel, 0.001% fipronil, while I've been doing my research and it seems to be helping. I targeted 2 areas where there was obvious ant trails going into the siding outside. Lately activity is dramatically reduced (and my wife hasn't said anything about ants in about 10 days, so I guess she's seeing less! :biggrin:) I will still go with Termidor, as I never was able to figure out which way they were going! It was hard tracing the trail--they seemed to wind all over my bushes (like little Billy running and errand in Family Circus) and I just lose their path.

Besides, as I said in my first post, correlation does not mean causation! It could be coincidence; I want to end this once and for all!

My only concern is that we grow some berries and our vegetable garden near the side of the house and I don't know about how the spray in that one-foot zone could get in the roots.

Dante
 

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From what I have been told from a few reputable Pest Control People, don't stop the baiting cause you stopped seeing ants.

I will be baiting all summer here. I am also using a granular, I don't see any ants around some piles but the pile is gone the next day, while a pile a few feet away is untouched..

PLAZO
 

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...she said she's squashing 9 or 10 a day. Which to me, doesn't sound bad. But she's obviously more concerned than I am. I just don't think it's time to get in an exterminator for $800 or whatever in treatments...

So....does it sound like I'm underreacting? Any advice at this point?
I was finding about the same number... I called an exterminator.

Here in Eastern MA (typically expensive) they wanted $230 for a Termidor perimeter treatment which guaranteed no ants for 1-yr, they also threw in termite indicator stakes (apparently termites eat the material in the stake, so seeing it disintegrate indicates activity along the foundation)

Even though I can buy Termidor online for about $60 for 3-5X the QTY the pro is going to use, I still went with them for the treatment.

This particular Co does not advocate putting anything into the house itself, they do it all w/ a perimeter treatment and claim that it works for complete removal of nests, even if they are in the house, because the ants will still be going outside thru this stuff. This particular company is at the top of Angie's List and had about a hundred positive reviews, including for carpenter ants.
 
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At $230 I would have them over, termidor has a 10yr half life or something like that. In canada they nail me for 500 and all they do is spray a repellant insectide that works for a few weeks and only kills a small number.
 

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Termidor as a subterranean application for termites will last for some years, depending on environmental factors. As a surface spray for ants-maybe a year under protected areas, but generally less than that.
 

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Bugman, what is breaking down the termidor? sunlight, rain? how often to retreat then?

I wish the pest guys around me were half as informed as you are :) I would not likely be trying to do it myself....

Thanks
Plaz
 

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Bugman, what is breaking down the termidor? sunlight, rain? how often to retreat then?

I wish the pest guys around me were half as informed as you are :) I would not likely be trying to do it myself....
FWIW, the service I used recommends re-application whenever the area is disturbed for construction/repair, or once per year.

They claim that reapplication yearly is "maintenance" which would imply that the solution lasts at least a year.

They also claim it takes 30 days to eliminate the ants, but that often results occur in as few as 2 weeks... they "guarantee" that after 30 days you will see no ants in your home--though I assume the guarantee is limited simply to re-treatment of the area, so in event that the chemical doesn't work, I'm not sure what else they might try to do?

They sprayed 12" up the foundation and 12" out from the foundation, they also spot treated any ant hills within about 12" of the foundation.

...treatment was on Thursday, I had already seen a dramatic reduction in the number of ants, probably due to my own application of various consumer pesticides... I believe that Wed/Thur I saw zero ants... last night (Fri) I saw one in the living room... today there we've found two on our second floor (to date we've seen none up there, so this is new activity).

I can see where they are coming in, I believe they probably are walking right in around a new electric outlet I had installed last fall... I have vinyl over original wood shingle, the electrician installed an old work box, so there is probably a fairly large gap around it that they are simply walking in around... once I see no ants for at least a week I plan to take apart that area and seal with spray foam. It's also possible that small picture window (20"x20") may have a leak that is wetting the original wood siding or something similar, I've got a carpenter coming who is going to replace that window with a vinyl, replace any rotted wood, wrap with aluminum and seal with silicon.
 

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I believe that the label allows for 2 treatments annually. That would be above ground applications, such as for ants. Termite treatments can be done as needed.

Many elements break down modern day pesticides. Sunlight, rain, microbes, dirt/dust accumulation on treated surface, etc. Residual life varies depending on the spot being treated. Treating under a porch roof will give much longer residual life than treating around the perimeter of the porch, although you should do both for effect. You can see how the 2 sites are impacted differently by the rain and sun. Treating over top of a cement patio slab leaves the chemical to much exposure. Treating into the crack between that same slab and the house will minimize exposure. Do both, though. You get the idea. You see why there is no one answer as to the residual life of an application. It will vary greatly within the same site.

Sunlight is probably the worst. Rain doesn't fall in the perimeter of the house as it does further away. Also, I like to treat under soffits, porch roofs, etc. as the sunshine is minimal in those areas, and rain should not affect it at all. Even when rained on, if the application had time to dry, it does bond to the soil anyway. Termidor stays put, especially in subterranean application.

We give 6 month carpenter ant warranty with one (residential) application and we rarely get called back. Termidor is almost too good to be true. It is the chemistry and and how it affects ants/termites, not the toxicity, as that is low. Modern day science and chemistry are bringing effective products to our modern day life; I'm counting on them to bring us an effective bed-bug product. I've been in the pest control industry for 30+ years; 2010 was the first time in my life that I saw a live bed bug. These guys snuck up on us, and have the advantage for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
OK, Termidor on its way! And not a moment too soon. After a very wet spring, we've had several dry and hot days. Coincidence or not, now family is finding many more ants in the house. No trail, but frequent appearances along floor or trim. Past few nights I've found no activity along the outside trails I found, so they may have a new path or are inside :eek:
Wife told me she is calling the exterminator next week, so I hope my case is on the quicker end of the range and she sees something fast. I can't seem to convince her that after my research, I should be able to get this under control this year and also save money.

Should get the delivery Friday,and hopefully no rain in the forecast so I can get right to it!

Dante
 

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OK, Termidor on its way!

... I can't seem to convince her that after my research, I should be able to get this under control this year and also save money

Let her read this--

About a week after my treatment there are ZERO ants in my house.

The Pro used Termidor SC -- the exact same bottle I bought myself off the internet. He mixed it as per the instructions on the bottle in a regular sprayer, using regular water... then it took 15 mins to spray around the foundation and ant ant mounts within a foot of the house..

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
OK, I just came from the attic where there were a bunch of CA's up there. Seemed to clustered near the area under a window, so would not be surprised if they are in a void up there. But not ready to pull away insulation as is it near my wife's art supplies.

With this many in the attic, do you think enough would venture into the Termidor zone or should I just order Phantom too right now?

Thanks,

Dante
 
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