Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Ants Go Marching One By One

As soon as the hornets had been dealt with.....large ants started to appear on the exterior and interior log walls of the cabin. We captured a few of the ants and placed them in small glass containers and sent them to the University of Minnesota for exact identification.

The University Extension Entomologist indicated they were carpenter ants.

Carpenter ants are destructive and can eat up the wood of the log walls. They seem to find the little cracks and openings in the wall and create hidden holes and tunnels within the logs if the wood remains moist and especially if wood rot occurs. Carpenter ants can enter the cabin walls many ways.

At first, we noticed a few ants marching across logs and then found wood shavings, mostly in one particular corner. We realized we needed to be concerned about this issue.

Our first attempt was to apply a liquid insecticide on the inside and outside faces of the log walls. Next, we tried a powder dust especially formulated for carpenter bees and carpenter ants. We used these treatments every 3 to 4 weeks during the summers, less frequently during winter months.

When the log cabin needed a re-staining, we tried an insecticide in the log finish.

In spite of all the attempts to rid the cabin logs of ants, we had little success. One very hot summer we noticed an increase in the number of ants both inside and outside the cabin. As there are many rottings logs in the forest, we could not find their nests in the woods. To our amazement and amusement, we watched as the army of ants marched one by one back and forth across the sandy soil surrounding the cabin. Hundreds of ants were actively working that day.

Something further needed to be done!

We happened upon the cabin's original builder and told him of the carpenter ants. He suggested that I go to a particular small, local store and get a liquid concentrate there which is mixed especially for carpenter ants.

We stopped by the store and asked for the carpenter ant concentrate. The store clerk knew exactly what we wanted and poured a small amount of the mysterious concentrate into an old glass quart jar. The jar cover did not matched the jar. So, in an attempt to seal the improper cover to the jar, the store clerk placed some waxpaper over the opening of the jar before putting on the lid.

We were on our 3 hour return trip back to the city from the cabin when we purchased the concentrate. A number of miles down the road, we were overwhelmed by a strong, pungent odor coming from the back of our van. We guessed it was coming from the jar of concentrate with it's imperfect lid.

We stopped on a gravel road just off the highway. We couldn't drive all the way back to the city with the smell......how do we do eliminate the smell? We didn't have any other jars or containers in the van with a better closing lid.

After some discussion, we decided to place the jar of concentrate with it's faulty cover under a nearby small pine tree in the forest, about 20 feet from the edge of the back woods road. I placed a flat rock on top of the cover of the jar to hold the jar upright and keep an accidental bump from knocking the jar over. We decided we would plan on picking up the hidden jar on the way back to the cabin the next week end.

A week later we did go back to the cabin and stopped by the small pine tree in the woods to pick up the jar with the concentrate. It was still there! We put it into a new, larger plastic container with a tight cover and continued on our merry way up to the cabin odor free.

The concentrate was to be mixed with water in a 10 to 1 ratio. One ounce of concentrate and 10 ounces of water could be placed into our plastic spray container. We sprayed the mixture into the rock landscaping that surrounds the cabin, on the foundation, lower logs and the wood skirt board that was placed below the bottom wall log. This treatment appeared to be very effective.

Early this coming Spring we will spray this same insecticide to treat the cabin again. Here's hoping the march of the ants is a thing of the past.

3 comments:

Pam & Doug said...

We have had the ant problem as well and they are attracted to sweets and grease. Since we dont keep food in the cabin we decided it must be from the grill and after using the concentrate that our local Ace Hardware recommended and scrubbing the grill down along with matts, we were able to get rid of them that summer.

Silver Maple Leaf said...

I haven't had to deal with ants, yet!!!!! after we move into our yet to be built domes it night be a different story. I have always loved log homes. I am so jealous :).

Anonymous said...

To permenantly get rid of carpenter ants use some boric acid srinkled where they like to romp and around the nouse - you will see them making their little routes - indoors mix some of the boric acid, sugar and water and soak cotton balls in the solution - place where ever you see ants running around. They will feast and die - their buddies come for them and bring them to their nest where the queen also eats them and dies. Don't worry about the poison lable on the boric acid - it is about as poisonous as table salt and safe for you and you pets unless you east the whole bottle. Also, keep any and all debris away from the yard surrounding the home - a good 150 feet - rotting wood attracts ants. Check the surrounding yard for ant hills and also treat with boric acid sprinkled.

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