Why do these ants have gigantic friends with them?
October 11, 2017 8:53 PM   Subscribe

We have ants. But they come with the occasional giant friend. What are they? We're in southern California.
posted by BuddhaInABucket to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You must get a professional exterminator or DIY - you have Argentine Ants, and their friends the Carpenter Ants show up once the infestation is sizable. The Argentinian Ants eat sugary stuff, the Carpenter Ants are carnivores and eat the Argentine Ants after they die. It's an eco system. Congratulations!

The only way to get rid of the Argentine Ants is to find the nest and kill it, or else they will return again and again. Destroy the nest and the Carpenter Ants will magically disappear.

Just spraying your home will never work. Kill the nest. Call a professional to find it if you need to. I know this because I dealt with it about 2 years ago. A total headache for months until the professional took care of it in just over an hour by finding 2 Argentine nests and recommending we trim the tree limb touching the house they were using as a bridge.
posted by jbenben at 9:27 PM on October 11 [14 favorites]

This was exactly the time of year 2 years ago they showed up at our house. We're in LA.
posted by jbenben at 9:30 PM on October 11

They are probably carpenter ants as described above. I wouldn't bother with an exterminator for the Argentine ants, those things are everywhere in CA it's a waste of time and a lot of toxic waste sprayed all over your home for nothing, but you probably know that already if you're a native. The carpenter ants will eat wet wood though so be aware of that.
posted by fshgrl at 9:32 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


We are in new construction that completed three weeks ago so lord knows how we already have an ant infestation on our hands. We put a Terro ant trap directly in their path and both kinds of ants dove into it with gusto, so that should kill the nest, right?
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 9:32 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]

Consider the additionally horrible possibility that there is an entire network of ant colonies living fathoms below your new development and that one ant trap won’t be enough. Now is the time to get exterminators on the job to evaluate, not later.

Ask me how I know.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:23 PM on October 11 [14 favorites]

Again, you need to find and kill the nest - not poison they take back to the nest, actually kill the MF nest. This is A Thing.

Fshgrl is 3,000% wrong that there is nothing you can do about Argentine ants. However, the suggestion that poison around your home is a waste of time is 3,000,000% correct. Kill the nest once and done, laying traps will not work on Argentine ants. The info about Carpenter ants was also off, they're attracted by the Argentine carcasses. Get rid of the smaller Argentine ants nest and the Carpenter ants will disappear.

You do NOT need a regular service to spray. You do need someone to come out and follow the Argentine ant trails back to any nests, then they erradicate the nest with pesticide. If you find the nest yourself, you can try boiling water on the nest, but I think that's not fool proof.

3 months of diy indoor boric acid traps and spraying did nothing. Having someone find the 2 nests in the backyard and kill them on the spot solved the problem. Both ant problems. Call someone who knows what they are doing - I honestly could not have located the nests on my own. Feel free to memail me if you need more info. ,
posted by jbenben at 10:27 PM on October 11 [9 favorites]

If this is in a new development, work with the developer to get an exterminator to track down all Argentine nests outdoors and kill them, otherwise, you will have them forever. Do not accept anything less than all nests around your property erradicated.

Google "Argentine ants SoCal" - tons of info.
posted by jbenben at 10:35 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]

There isn’t one nest or even two. Argentine ants build more and more nests as needed and all nests work together. The most effective thing we found was mixing borax with sugar and putting little heaps off it where they were coming in. Eventually that kills all the local nests.
posted by w0mbat at 2:30 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]

Argentine ants without a queen will just join another colony. By all means, use Terro as well as kill invaders with a spray of isopropyl alcohol, dish soap, and water (not harmful to pets or kids, kills on contact, and disrupts their scent trail), but just be aware that it may take a while and they will likely come back. You can't just kill the nest and be done with it. Another will take its place almost immediately. (Putting Terro traps outside helps too.)
posted by elsietheeel at 8:48 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]

We killed the two nests nearest our home and were done with it. The professional located their entry point, a tree limb that was touching our home, and we trimmed it back. The professional sprayed around our home, inside and out.

It was done with one visit.

They are still on the greater property outside 2 years later, but never ever in the house again. We've been here 6+ years total. The 3 months I spent using borax and DIY sprays was a waste of my time and did nothing.

Get a professional.
posted by jbenben at 10:55 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]

We spoke with our HOA people and they said they pretty much confirmed what you all said: SoCal, therefore ants. They assume responsibility for pest control from the builder as of November 1st, and then they will solve the problem, hopefully! Thanks for your help!
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 10:03 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]

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