Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Invasion of the mutant ants

Our house is being overrun by carpenter ants. The past week, it rained non stop, plus there is a rotten post supporting my balcony, so the house has become ants Mecca.

According to Mike Potter, Extension Entomologist at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, carpenter ants vary in size and color but are usually large (1/4-1/2 inch) and blackish. Occasionally, swarms of winged carpenter ant reproductives will emerge inside a home. Carpenter ant swarms usually occur in the spring and are a sure sign that a colony is nesting somewhere inside the structure. Carpenter ants nest in both moist and dry wood, but prefer wood which is moist. Consequently, the nests are more likely to be found in wood dampened by water leaks, such as around sinks, bathtubs, poorly sealed windows/ door frames, roof leaks and poorly flashed chimneys.

So we have an ants infestation. What to do? The extent and potential damage to a home depends on how many nests are actually present within the structure, and how long the infestation has been active. Although large carpenter ant colonies are capable of causing structural damage, the damage is not normally as serious as that from termites. In some cases, the damage may be relatively insignificant, but this can only be determined by locating and exposing the nest area. The best way to control carpenter ants is to find and destroy the nests. This is often easier said than done.

The most important and often most difficult part of carpenter ant control is locating the nest or nests. Feed the ants small dabs of diluted honey placed onto the back (nonsticky side) of pieces of masking tape. The best time to do this is late at night since this is when carpenter ants are most active. After the ants have fed on the honey, follow them on their journey back to their nest. Once the nest is found, spraying or dusting the baseboards or cracks and crevices around the infested area with residual insecticides, without locating and treating the nest, usually does not give complete control. Foraging workers will contact the insecticide and die while ants staying inside the galleries of the nest, along with the queen and developing larvae, may not be greatly affected. Kill might be slow with only crack and crevice treatment since workers need to carry enough insecticide on their feet back into the nest. Ants in the nest can live more than six months without feeding. However, aerosol spray treatments in the nest can be effective if much insulation is present.

I'm trying to dazzle you with scientific facts by cutting and pasting stuff from wikipedia and other sites, but the thing is: ants and spiders don't really bother me. I don't keep uncovered food outside the fridge and as long as they don't stink, eat my food or bite me, I can co-exist peacefully with most animals.

But one of the ants apparently bit Asparagus last night, so you realize of course that this means WAR!!!!!!.

Update (June 1st, 2006):
Every day, there are more of them!! One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the ants will soon overcome us all. So I for one welcome our new insect overlords.

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