Summary: When an ant problem causes damage to grass and gardens, it's time to draw a line in the sand. Fight ant problems by creating multi-faceted pest management approach.
Rebecca; Shelburne Falls, MA
We live in a 100-yr old house that is situated near a river. We have some carpenter ant problems which we know are due to too many old tree stumps around the house and some moisture damage that was ignored by former owners. But, a more troubling problem is that our entire back yard, which abuts the river, is dead, brown and lifeless due to massive ant infestations. I'm nervous that they will just keep moving up into our healthy lawn next to the house. What can we do that is both effective and safe?
When ant problems get a little out of control you need to take action. However, before attempting any control, get the ant species identified. There is no use going after carpenter ants if it turns out you have black field ants or some other ant species. Collect as many varied ants as possible and take them to your local County Extension Agent. All Agency addresses are listed on the web under "County Extension Agents."
Regardless of what ant species you have, there are solutions. Try going the "Green" route if possible. See if you are able to determine why the ants are present in such large numbers. Is it the abundance of tree stumps or something else attracting the ants? Knowing the ant species will help you pinpoint why they are present. Having the species identified correctly will allow you to do some research and you'll discover what the ants eat, the size of their colonies, how common is the problem you are experiencing and lots of other good stuff, including how to control these pests.
Some of the ant control methods you will discover in your research will be totally non-chemcial. If at all possible, try those methods first. However, it sounds like things are a bit out of control so you may have to consider using pesticides in your control equation.
There are various types of ant baits available on the retail market. One of the products the pros use is Advance Granular Carpenter Ant Bait, manufactured by Bayer Chemical. It will kill off ant colonies, but you must use it with care. This product is very toxic to fish, so you will not be able to place it too close to water's edge. The label is very precise about this, so reading the label in its entirety is essential. The label can be found easily on the internet via Google.
Pesticides only become problematic when people misuse them. Use them judiciously and you will have no problem.
Click here to watch my short video on how to control ants.