Long time Ant problem

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Old 06-10-20, 03:49 PM
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Long time Ant problem

I been having an ant problem for many years and it seems to be getting worse every year and I'm not able to get a complete kill.

My wife and I own a condo and the complex is built "stair stepping" up a hillside on the coast od southern California. The way It's built, the crawlspace under our unit only gives me access to the rear 20 foot or so of the condo. The rest of the unit is over the living space of the condo below us. But the part I can access is below the problem area and contains most of the plumbing and piping of our house.

The problem I have is ants coming out between the baseboard and tile floor of the toilet closet for the master bathroom. Before when we had ants in other parts of the house I would use Advion gel in baitstations and if the ants did reappear it seems like after baiting them twice they would be gone for the rest of the year. (I only see ants here spring through fall).

I go under house and I don't see any ants or signs of ants coming down from the problem bathroom. Since the units are built on a cement foundation and crawlspace the hilside is about a 45 degree slope, I'm about 8 foot below the bathroom floor so I can't get a very good look. But as long as I'm down there I spray everything anyway. Over the years I have used Lambistar Ultracap, Onslaught, and yesterday Taurus SC.

Everything under the house is unusually clean It's 27 years old but has very little dust and I see absolutely no signs of water or food, nothing leaking or no signs of anything leaking over the years. I see no spiderwebs or any pests or bugs.

The ants are either living in the walls or coming from the unit next to me or above me, Being near the center of my unit it's at least 40-50 feet to the nearest dirt or vegetation and I have no idea where they are actually coming from.

I have used Advion, Optiguard, and Terro over the years and they work in that order best to worst. The ants almost never eat protein based bait, I have tried several of those to no effect. Now it has gotten so bad that I put out 3 baitstations, have extreamly active feeding on them a few days but then the ants only disappear for a week to ten days at the most and the cycle starts again.

I have been extremely reluctant to use any type of insecticide in my house and the baits used to work fine in the past. I have also not fixed the crack where they come out of because I figure they will just find another place to come out and the bathroom is next to our bedroom and if they found there way to my wife or our bed there would be a serious marital problem.

Drastic times lead to drastic measures. I looking for advice on what would be the best and longest lasting total annihilation of these ants. It's just me and my wife, no kids or pets and it's just a toilet closet far away from the kitchen or pantry.

Is there a better bait?
Should I use Taurus even though it's not really approved indoors?
If I make holes in the wall between every stud is there a dust or spray that will give me long lasting results so I don't have to knock holes in my walls every year?

I also have access to professional grade products and a pest control company if needed.

Sorry for the very long post.
I appreciate any help and suggestions you can give me.and I'm sorry I don't know what kind of ants they are.

Dave
 
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Old 06-13-20, 06:33 PM
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Just got back from a long trip so here's a quick reply. Give me a day or so to think more on this.

The Taurus SC is the best choice (active ingredient: fipronil) for ants, any specie. It is non-repellent and that's one of the aspects of it that makes it successful. Don't use any other sprays as you will then be working against the non-repellency strategy. Also, don't spray near baits though fipronil is one insecticide that you probably could use close to baits. Because of the non-repellency and low toxicity of fipronil, it can take 2 weeks or so for results as it works very slowly. When I get a chance I'm going to see if the fipronil labels do allow for partial or spot treats indoors. I've heard that may be coming. Fipronil is that same active ingredient that is found in Frontline, a flea/tick treatment for dogs and cats. Also a very good termiticide for subterranean termites.

They baits you've used are good, too. At different times of seasons, they will want carbs as opposed to protein. It's their call, unfortunately. I'll look for other bait possibilities.

Knocking holes in the walls is usually only reserved for termite treatments, at least here in the east. Maybe it is done more on the west coast but even if you did that and treated the sill plate successfully, the ants could simply live in the wall void above the treatment so hold off on that. I'll get back to you.

 
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Old 06-13-20, 08:52 PM
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Thank you PAbugman and take whatever time you need.

You will notice that was my first post on this forum The last couple years as it has been getting worse I have spent considerable time looking for advice and have visited this form regularly to read all the posts here. Although I am a member of other "doityourself" type forums, Your expertise and sound advice to others is what lead me to ask here first and I was hoping it would be you to respond. So thank you very much for doing so.

I been dealing with this for years, take all the time you need.

What I want is either a permanent solution or a way to make the problem manageable again.
It just seems like now the colony is too big to get back under control and I'm tired of putting out multiple bait stations just to have them swarm the bait for 2-4 days, disappear, only to come back a week or so later,

Thank you
Dave
'
 
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Old 06-16-20, 01:19 PM
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Some more information so you can better understand.



This is the building my condo is in, you can see how they all stair-step up the hillside.



This is the main problem area, I'm not sure if you can see it but I'm already getting ant activity again, The last 3 months there has been about 5 cycles of heavy activity for a few days, total disappearance for a short time and then within a week or 10 days the cycle continues, Here I have a couple bait stations with Advion, I bought a brand new package hoping it would work better than my year old stuff but I gave done that before without any improvement.



Here is a view of part of the master bathroom, the toilet closet is that door to the right and then we have a shower, bathtub and double sinks you cant see. That wall is a common or "party wall" that separates our unit from the neighbors. It consists of 2 layers 5/8" drywall, 1/2" plywood, 6" wall studs with insulation, a 4" section of steel beams, and then repeats with another 6" insulated wall, plywood and 2 layers of drywall.



This is the crawlspace under that area,



I have removed the insulation under the toilet closet but because of the hillside it's about 12 foot high and I can't get close enough to see ants. However I have thoroughly treated that area a couple times a year along with wide horizontal "stripes" across the top, along the floor joists across the middle and bottom of that common wall and all drywall gaps and seams. Also along all the plumbing pipes.
I have also gone under my neighbors unit and sprayed the other side of the wall.

The drywall on the right is actually the start of the unit below mine. The crawlspace only gives me access to maybe a third of my unit, everything else I have no access because they are living spaces for other units.

Dave
 
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Old 06-16-20, 01:44 PM
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This would be "Ant area #2". It's been years since I have seen activity here but recently I have had 2 cycles of heavy activity.



The wall behind that couch and computer is NOT the party wall where the other problem area is. Behind that wall is the master bedroom. There is a short "stub wall" between the bedroom wall and that set of french doors that a large nuber of ants are coming out of.



Here I have pulled up some of the carpet and found the ants coming out of that short stub wall next to the threshold of the french door. Somehow thousands of ants are living or at least exiting that wall,



This is the patio outside that short wall section and french door. There are absolutely no ants coming from outside. We have no plants on that side of the patio and I keep the area between the patio deck and wall swept and spray that area as needed. I have seen some spider webs by the windows a few times so I spray the window ledges, the perimeter of the entire patio, including a foot or so of the bottom of the wall and the deck from the wall.

Dave


 
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Old 06-17-20, 10:04 AM
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Great pics and explanations of each. Your place is stunningly beautiful. We don't see or treat construction like that here in the east so the pics are very helpful to understand.

The baits you've used/using are well liked by the industry. It's possible that there the colony(s) are that large that they can simply over power the bait in that not enough bait is getting passed around the colony and they can recover. They may also be far away from the bait so that this is but one food source for them. I really can't suggest any other baits and I know you don't want to spray indoors but we may be near that point. TaurusSC (fipronil) can only be used indoors when treating wall voids for termites/carpenter ants according to the label updates. That can also change by state. Here in PA we go with whatever EPA approves as to changes on the label. Other states will add (but cannot subtract) regulations. I can't tell you to use Taurus indoors but the reason it isn't labeled for indoors in a more general way is because the manufacturer simply didn't request label approval for indoors. That got it to market quicker and they already had Phantom on the market for indoors only so we used one indoors, the other outdoors. Fipronil is a low toxicity which is found in Frontline for use on dogs/cats. Spectre, below, is the generic version of Phantom that I've attached. The original Phantom is still available.

https://www.domyown.com/spectre-sc-p-17402.html

I think it will be important to get the Spectre water based insecticide underneath and behind the baseboard as opposed to on top of baseboard or on floor in front. This will require a pin stream, low pressure spray with you on your knees, a good light, and an absorbent cloth to wipe up any that comes back out.

Phantom/Spectre can be difficult to work with as it is thick and won't stay mixed without frequent shaking. Clean spray equipment quickly after use. Advion WDG (5 packet box) was my first choice due to ease of use but it's not for sale to CA. Maybe you have friends in a bordering state...
If the wall/ceiling voids contain very large ant colonies, then this approach may not work much better than baiting but it's all I can think of for now. Finding the colony would be the ideal solution and you've obviously tried hard. I suspect it is in a place you don't have practical access to. One difference between this and baiting is that residual non-repellent insecticides will work for several months in hidden areas as opposed to hoping that the ants will eat the bait.
 
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Old 06-17-20, 04:28 PM
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Thank you PAbugman,

My wife and I feel the same way. The colony is too large and we are not getting a complete cleanout and/or the bait is not being spread though the colony enough. Years ago it used to work great and after putting out a couple bait stations the ants would feed a couple days and then disappear between a few months or couple years.
Now it seems like we have this weekly problem.

I have a question about liquid based insecticides.
They almost always list 2 different concentrations, even for Taurus and Spectre. One might be called a treatment concentration and the stronger one a "knockdown" concentration.

What concentration is actually more effective?
Would the lower concentration allow the active ingredient to spread farther through the colony or is the reasoning the stronger the better because it is a limited time of spead before it starts killing the ants?

I have a third place now and I'll post a couple pictures later today.

Thanks
Dave
 
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Old 06-17-20, 05:34 PM
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As to the range of concentrations, yes the higher rate is for initial service or knockdown service as you thought. The rates also pertain to frequency of service. Lower percentage rates are for more frequent service. Remember, these are designed and marketed to pros who service peoples houses. The advantage that the resident diy'er has is that since you live there, you can treat more frequently than a customer may want so the higher rate is preferred, even for maintenance/preventative services. It's not wrong to use the higher rate on a regular basis, just maybe overkill. With Taurus SC (fipronil) on the exterior I would use the high rate every time.

Indoors I'd use the high rate the first time and probably lower rates after that. Phantom/Spectre work very slowly as they are not traditional insecticides. Both them and the fipronil based are not only non-repellents, but "horizontal transfer" occurs as the foraging ants/roaches unknowingly operate in the treated areas and transfer the toxicant back to the other ants/roaches. Foraging ants/termites do in fact feed the other ants/termites that don't leave the colony so that is why the low toxicity. Roaches transfer occurs as other roaches eat the fecal material of treated roaches. If it was higher toxicity then the transfer would be stopped when foragers die too soon.

Outdoors, when you treat soil perimeter, don't just fan spray perimeter. Right where the soil meets foundation oftentimes there is a gap, especially in drier times as the soil shrinks away from the foundation wall. Use pin stream to fill that gap and if you find a section that takes the insecticide well, then fill it up. Crack and crevice treatment on exterior and at patio slabs, etc, can be more important than simply broadcast or fan spraying the perimeter. Both have value.

 
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Old 06-17-20, 10:33 PM
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Thanks once again.




This in now the 3rd location. The area next to the french doors has no activity at this time but the master bathroom I already a few scouts roaming around.

This is my wifes bathroom. The reason why we had the Terro is because if I was not home she could easily open one up and not have to wait for me to get home. As I mentioned before the Terro attracts the most ants but gives me the worst results. But that doesn't mean I would not recommend it to others, It's quick, inexpensive and my work fine for normal ant problems.

I bought some Advion bait stations and since I never had luck with them with my ants that prefer sugar I squirted some Advion gel in them and sealed them up in a ziplock for her to use if necessary.
Glad I did, yesterday she said she saw a large number of ants in her bathroom and used a couple.

When I got home I put out the third one and took the picture above. It's hard to see if you can't zoom in on the picture but I would guess there are 4-5 hundred ants. I would rate this as a Medium event.

This morning once again I went under the house but I was not able to get a large enough ladder to get up into the floor joists on that side of the crawlspace. I did get a long pole and found that there is blocking between the floor joists just past that wall and her bathroom is about 6 feet past the crawlspace access.

Her bathroom wall is a regular non-insulated interior wall and behind it is a closet. I already told her I'm planning on cutting a hole in the drywall big enough to put a camera in it and see if I can see them. If I see ants I may be able to tell if they are travailing through the walls or somehow coming from above. If I don't see them then they must be below the sill plate and using the unassailable area between the floor joists.

I also would have no problem spraying Taurus into the wall void or even using it as spot treatment in small areas.
I'm also considering spraying some in my bathroom along the back 12-16" of tiles and moving the bait stations farther away so the next time they mount an attack they have to all walk over the Taurus to get to the Advion.

Thanks again for your advice and information.

Dave

Again I thank you for all your help and advice.
 
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Old 06-18-20, 05:24 PM
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Today the ants were still feeding on the baits in my wifes bathroom but the activity was much less.

I cut 2 holes in the drywall directly behind where they come out from under the baseboard but I could see no ants.
So I know they in the floor section and not traveling through the walls or down from above.

I sprayed Taurus in the wall cavity including a solid stream between the sill plate and drywall on the bathroom side of the wall. I was hoping to see liquid come out from under the baseboard but it must have all leaked down into the floor area. Of course I could not spay as much as I would have liked because there is a drywall ceiling a couple feet below. I did however notice that the ants almost completely stopped coming out from under the baseboard, maybe they didn't like getting wet.

I hope I'm not just playing wack a mole, and forcing them to find another way into the house. But I plan on giving it a few days for everything to dry out and then reapplying the Taurus a few times until I think I have a good amount of fipronil in that area.

I also sprayed a little on the back row of tiles in my bathroom and moved the bait stations farther away from the wall to see if that helps but at this point that is the only place I want to use Taurus in the house.

Lets see what happens in a few days.
Dave
 
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Old 06-19-20, 06:59 AM
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I know you've invested much money and time with the baits, but as long they are accepting, keep plenty on hand.

Look at this bait and see what you think. Proteins and carbs in one station.

The idea behind non-repellents is that you won't be chasing/moving them. It doesn't take much material at all, either. Remember, the non repellents and the horizontal transfer take time, weeks in fact. Maybe even more if the colony is unusually large or located well away from treatment site, something you have no control over. Stay the course.

https://www.domyown.com/advance-dual...ons-p-399.html
 
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Old 07-21-20, 10:44 PM
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Sorry for my absence I had a terrible month.
I had an employee test positive for Covid-19 and another employee and I were classified as close contacts and had to self isolate. I didn't want to expose my wife so I slept on the floor of an unfurnished vacant rental for a couple weeks and that may have been more miserable than getting sick. I actually had some of the symptoms and I'm not sure at this point if I had it or not. But all my other employees were fine, anyone who wanted testing got it done but here in LA county California the tests take 6-9 days for the results and by the time you find out it would be obvious if you had it or not.

Before this happened, twice I almost reported a full week without ants. But we had a couple of small flurries of activity but they only lasted a half day or so. The ants would eat the bait and unlike all the other times when the activity stopped there were lots of dead ants around the bait stations.

Before with the heavy activity we would never see dead ants except the ones stuck in the bait stations and we figured either they made it back to the colony before they died or other ants came along and carried them away or ate them.

But the ants are almost entirely gone now and I'm glad my wife didn't have to deal with them while I was gone.

Dave
 
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Old 07-22-20, 07:08 AM
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What a month you had! Hoping that things keep getting better, in all aspects. I had wondered about the ant situation a couple of times.

Good news about the ants. Don't be discouraged if you still get some appearances; that's kind of how this works, especially when dealing with large colonies. What you're describing sounds like progress and success to me.

Thanks for getting back to us.
 
 

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