Thursday, May 25, 2006


We've got ants in our yard. Lots of them. Luckily, they seem to be happy to stay outside. But they're everywhere. In the tree. All over the ground.

We plan to build a ground level wood deck in our back yard someday. I often wonder what effect that will have on the ants (or what effect they'll have on the enjoyment of our deck). Will they continue to flourish in the dark under the deck? Will they move away? Should I try to kill them first? Should I care? Does anyone have any insight on this?


Anonymous said...

Live and Let Live!
or Chocolate covered ants for a Light snack

Categories: Snacks, Desserts
Yield: 6 servings

1742 lg Ants, (if they are sm.,
-use 2,044)
3 c Melted chocolate

Catch ants at a picnic site and keep them in a glass jar to which you
have added a teaspoon of sugar to keep them happy. (Unhappy ants are
liable to go sour before processing.) At home, pick up each ant with
tweezers and remove entrails with a small, very sharp knife edge.
This will take about 400 hours. If you are in a hurry, eliminate
this step; you'll never know the difference. Dip each ant into melted
chocolate and place to drain on waxed paper. If any of them are
still able to crawl off the paper, let them go -- be a good sport!!


Karl Plesz said...

Haha! Yeah, OK - but seriously now.....

Jon said...

We had a freakin' huuuge ant hill in our front yard up until last year. I don't know how much you recall about our house, Karl, but we have two fairly large trees in the front yard - a crab apple tree and somethingorotherelse. When we bought the place in 2004, the apple tree had a 2 1/2 foot high brick enclosure around the base filled with dirt. Shortly after moving in we discovered that the entire freaking thing was one giant ant hill. It was quite obvious that the ants had been there for years and were really, really well established.

It took a lot of work, but we actually got rid of them. I'm still shocked as hell to this day that we succeeded. I know they're still in the neighbourhood somewhere because I still see ants around in the summer, but nothing like the black swarm that used to cover the tree and the entire front lawn.

You may be too late for this year (perhaps not, though) but here's what we did.

There are two main things to know:

1. Liquid laundry soap kills ants. We used bleach as well because we're nasty people, but you might not want to do that to your lawn.
2. You don't have to kill them all, just distress them enough that they move the queen

The best time to do this is as soon as the ground is thawed enough that you can start digging. Yes, you'll have to dig. You want to do this as early as possible in the year because most of the ants have not hatched yet. There aren't a lot of work parties to repair your damage so they will be more likely to move the queen than attempt damage control.

Dig where you think the centre of the hill is and pour buckets upon buckets of boiling soapy wanter into the hole. Have a nice long handled shovel and stir up the entire thing for 10 minutes at a time. Pour another boiling bucket of soapy water in and stir some more. All in all I spent about 2 hours our there and put in about 5 buckets of boiling water. It'd be great if you actually found and killed the queen, but I don't think that's likely.

At the end of it you won't be sure you've succeeded. There will be ants everywhere because they're in a mad panic trying to organize themselves. If you've dug deep enough, caved in enough tunnels, and put nasty soap in enough places, they'll move the queen. You'll notice the ant population drop over the next few days.

I'm sure this will likely work at any time during the year, but when the hill is in full swing they're much more likely to repair your damage than move the queen. Until the queen is moved or killed, they're not going anywhere.

The only other thing you want to do before you try this is make sure that when they move, they move far. Don't give them another nice home in your yard. The reason they liked our tree is because there was years and years of sweet rotting apple in the soil. We have to pick up every apple that falls and frequently water the lawn to make sure they don't come back. You should take a survey of your yard before you do this and make sure there aren't any other attractive areas for them to move to. Hell, put a big pile of applesauce in your neighbour's yard before you start :)

Good luck!