Thursday, June 20, 2002

We have had a most remarkable drop off in the number of .Carpenter Ants patrolling the kitchen.

It's well known that these ants can be devastating pests. These ants, which are the largest occurring in our region, aren't really dangerous, although the big ones can lock their mandibles into flesh. Finn knows this. A junior entomologist, he often picks up bugs and examines them. A few months ago he came running into the kitchen with a shocked look on his face and an inch long ant hanging off his fingertip by it's jaws.

Where these ants do the most damage is in their nest building They make their nests in wood by carving out galleries. The structures they create can be fatal to wood house, creating really instable areas in walls, beams and foundations. So naturally we were a little worried when we first noticed them last year. We cleaned up their trails with vinegar and soap and spread cinnamon around the places where we thought they were getting in and this led to a major drop off.

In March however, as soon as the weather warmed up, the ants were back, and they kept coming in more and more numbers until we finally took the bull by the horns and called a pest control operator. He asked if we had seen any with wings. The day before we called him (10 days ago) we had seen an ant with wings. This was a clear sing of summer, and the fact that the ants were preparing to move.

Since we phoned him, we have seen maybe one or two ants. The rest have vanished.

Other islanders confirm that the ants really do come and go. Some years are worse than others, but most people have never had them hang around. All that remains for this year is to find the nest, see if it was in the house and assess the damage if there is any.

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