Saneters with ant problems:
The Cornell site provides some interesting ecological information on ant
control, unpopular things the exterminator will not tell a customer, and
they properly prioritize control methods, with chemical (boric acid is a
chemical) methods listed last.
I suggest that folks with ant problems first try to understand how they
operate, investing a little time outside our human boxes to get a sense of
their ecology. (Stop trying to kill everything that crosses our paths).
Carpenter ants are relatively harmless, are not associated with any diseases
that I know of, and are beneficial predators of gypsy moth and other forest
defoliators when not being a nuisance. They (like other pests) give us
warning when our lives, homes and farms are not quite in balance. Carpenter
ants are unpopular messengers of how (in)effective we, or previous tenants,
are at sanitation and structural maintenance.
Sanitation is very important, once ants find food (behind the stove, under
the refrigerator, where the toddler stashes food for later), they leave a
pheromone trail so that fellow workers can follow and collect more. Remove
the food and, eventually, they will not waste time in the house.
Distracting ants with alternate food sources is a good idea, because it
respects their potential beneficial nature.
Structural integrity is also important. Carpenter ants can warn of unsafe
structures, and may slow decay by cleaning out the rot while they make their
home. Do not delay fixing your home or barn and removing the cause of the
wood rot. Use decay resistant footings (black locust, though tough on saws,
is a good substitute for pressure treated wood). But remember, they do not
cause wood rot, nor eat wood (no ant can digest cellulose like termites can,
but many can digest termites). They also warn of breaches in your
structure: if an ant can gain entry, so can a bedbug or mosquito.
Observation will also show where the breaches are. There is a pest control
carpenter in the Boston area who gets top dollar for such a service (to his
credit, he does not spray).
Ants are one of the ways I teach my young children to live and let live. To
be tolerant in a crowded world. When an ant is inside, they can do what
they want while I ignore it, but outside, even on the porch, they can
watch, but not maim. I tell them "Is she bothering you? No? Then don't
Stanley Gardens IPM
44 Paige Hill Rd
Brimfield MA 01010
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