Early Onset Ant Wars

By , April 9, 2016

A few weeks ago, we saw that carpenter ants had begun exploring the kitchen. We felt like they’d become active far earlier this year than others. We stepped up our cleaning, and put out containers of bait (see DIY Carpenter Ant Bait) for them to collect, carry back to their nests, and die—preferably as quickly as possible.

We made headway in the kitchen, but started checking the walls, particularly the wall that faces the ocean, where we’ve had trouble almost every year in the past (see The Pitter Patter of REALLY Tiny Feet). As in past years, we looked for piles of frass, collections of dust, insulation fragments, and other trash that ants haul out of their tunnels and dump.

Scene of a desperate struggle (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Scene of a desperate struggle (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

One day, I noticed some frass on the shelves. The next morning, I mentioned it to Michelle, and walked over to the wall to show her what I had seen.

Then, all heck broke loose!

In addition to the small piles of frass, I saw ants. Lots of them! Big ones, too—the extra large soldiers that guard carpenter ant colonies. A dozen or so sat, nearly immobile, on one of the logs of the wall, while workers moved among them.

We had ants, worse than we’ve ever seen them here, and also far earlier! Usually, we become aware of ants in the cabin in June or July. We can’t recall seeing even single ants the first week of April!

We pulled away a section of the panelling, as we’ve done in the past to bait ants on this wall. We found what appears to be a nest, lots of winged males, workers by the score, and plenty of the big warriors.

We grabbed our squeeze bottle of diatomaceous earth and powdered every ant we saw. We squirted it into all the gaps in the insulation we could find. Then we mixed up a fresh batch of bait and stuck it in the gap.

It looked like we’d torn the place apart, which, in a sense, we had. We’ll leave it like that for a few days to monitor the situation. I assume, because it is early in the season, that we might have broken up the nest before they laid any eggs. If not, the diatomaceous earth and bait should kill them off soon. It won’t be soon enough for me! We could be in for a very long summer of ant wars.

One Response to “Early Onset Ant Wars”

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