Black ants

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Old 02-21-12, 03:19 PM
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Black ants

I'm in SE Michigan. This winter, I've been finding a few stray black ants around the house. Some days, I come across 2 or 3(but never more than 1 at a time), other times I'll go several days without encountering any. Most often, they are in the kitchen or the bathroom, which are only 15 feet or so apart, but a couple times I've found them in other parts of the house.

They are on the small side as compared to the black ants I see outside in the summer, but larger than the type of red ants we have around here, and my initial impression was that what I was finding was just some odd survivors somehow activated by the unusually warm winter we've had. But now I'm concerned that there may be a nest somewhere in the house, since this has continued for several months

I don't think these are carpenter ants, but I'm no expert. A friend once had a carpenter ant infestation and I thought they were a larger ant. I've put ant traps in the areas where they most commonly appear and caught nothing. Any help or suggestions greatly appreciated!
 
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Old 02-21-12, 04:22 PM
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It could very well be carpenter ants. Within a carpenter ant colony there are various sizes of ants, commonly called major and minor workers. Carpenter ants can go dormant if exposed to the cold or they can stay mildly active if they are in a wall void, attic, etc.

The fact that you are seeing them now, when they are inactive outdoors, leads me to believe that you have an ant nest inside your house. Unfortunately, carpenter ants are not easily attracted to or controlled by baits.

Get them identified. Catch some if you can and take them to a county extension agent or similar. It will be helpful to know if they are carpenter ants.

If it is carpenter ants, Iíd consider waiting until warmer weather so you can treat the exterior as well. We use Termidor on the exterior and Phantom on the interior. Very effective on ants that forage for long distances such as carpenter ants.

On the lighter side: A good way to identify carpenter ants is to look for tiny beer cans all over the place!
 
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Old 02-22-12, 04:48 PM
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Thanks for the help. After some Googling I'm pretty sure they are carpenters(no beer cans though). But I'm going to do as you suggest. I also came across different types of ant bait(such as GOURLIQUID Gourmet Liquid Ant Bait) that are advertised for indoor use against carpenters. Do you think something like this is worth using until I can locate the nest?
 
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Old 02-23-12, 08:30 AM
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The Gourliquid could be a bait that they will accept. We use Gourmet ant gel for small ants often. The gourmet line is a good quality product and active ingredient. Very safe, too.

At different times of the year ant colonies will want carbs over protein and vice versa so if you donít get good acceptance now, donít discard the bait.

Buy the smaller bottles as it goes a long way. Make your own indoor bait stations using clean bottlecaps, low lying dishes, or anything similar. Donít spray any insecticide period as it will repel the ants and work against your baiting program. The treatments I mentioned previously are non-repellent.

If you have a basement, I would make placements on top of foundation wall; especially under kitchen, baths, and under any rooms where you see a pattern of activity. Also place in areas where you do see activity. Make it real easy for them to find it. Attics could be a good place too. No outdoor placements this time of year. Keep it fresh, too. Change it weekly. One site I saw said to change the outdoor placements every several months. That is way too infrequent. This is a sugar based product that will deteriorate in heat. Insect bait and rodent baits must be kept fresh. It is more hands-on than marketing would have us believe.

All baits work slowly so if you get activity in the bait-let them eat undisturbed. They will take it back to feed the non-foraging ants.
 
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Old 02-23-12, 09:43 AM
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Thanks again for your help - a little education goes a long way. Thankfully, I didn't just start spraying ant & roach killer all over the place!
 
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