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Another crisis (Ants)

Discussion in 'General Tortoise Discussion' started by KarenSoCal, Jul 20, 2018.

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  1. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Chug's enclosure has been taken over by extremely aggressive, vicious, small red ants. They swarm and attack if I, or Chug, get close to their "compound". I believe they are Southern fire ants.
    I have read all posts in the archives re' ants, and this is what I have done.
    I put Terro ant baits on the ground, then covered them with buckets so they are inaccessible to Chug. I also put Terro liquid in jars with holes in lids.
    Then I researched, and found that fire ants are not "sweet eaters". I have ordered Amdro fire ant bait, and when it arrives, will pour some into the holes as @Tom suggested in an old post.
    In the meantime, I have to get Chug out of there. I am too afraid they will find him in his burrow.
    In the past, I tried him in the bathtub, but he went nuts trying to escape, even with a cardboard hide. I am going to try giving him the run of the quite small bathroom. There is nothing to get into on the floor, and I will put his small dog crate with him as a hide.
    I can't fill the crate with dirt...do you think he will settle in on some towels? Or other suggestions welcome!
    They are calling for 118 deg here next week, so since he lost his shade tree, maybe this will solve 2 problems.
    The ant baits are supposed to work in about 2 weeks. I suppose he might reside in the bathroom for that long, if he will tolerate it.
    Ideas? Critiques?
  2. Taylor T.

    Taylor T. Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Could you try pouring boiling water down their hole to burn them out? This worked on some nasty ground wasps we had a few years ago.
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  3. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Yes, I did that last evening. Only used 1 teapot full. I don't know if it helped much. There are so many of them, no way to hit all the holes at once. I was also being swarmed and bitten while I poured...very painful!
    Maybe I should try a pot now, while they are not so active? I'll still be bitten though.
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  4. TammyJ

    TammyJ Well-Known Member

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    Quite a problem - best of luck solving it!
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  5. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Thank you! It will be solved, even if I have to put Chug in bed with me! LOL!
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  6. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member Tortoise Club

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    Maybe @Elohi can give some advice here. She is fighting fire ants all the time.
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  7. theguy67

    theguy67 Well-Known Member 10 Year Member!

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    I don't think pouring boiling water into the entrance will do much, since the nests are quite elaborate, and it would take several gallons to do anything (not to mention the ground will absorb some).

    The best that I have learned to combat the threat of fire ants is by providing my animals (adults) with a large enclosure. If ants move in, the tortoises can evacuate that portion of the pen until I step in. Maybe something to consider for the future? I just don't trust myself with eradicating the entire yard. I'd always wonder if I missed something.
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  8. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    I agree on the boiling water. It would take a very large amount all at once.
    I believe I have what most would consider a large enclosure for 1 DT. It's approx 600 sq ft. The ants are mostly on the right half, so yes, we can mostly avoid them right now. But one step too close and an attack is immediate. It was awful to see Chug run when they went after him. 20180720_191224.jpeg
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  9. Turtulas-Len

    Turtulas-Len Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Since you don't get very much rain (if any) diatomaceous earth might help. Even if it gets wet it will still work after it dries out. As far as I know there is no danger to Chug to be around DE.
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  10. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    How would I use it?
  11. Turtulas-Len

    Turtulas-Len Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    The food grade that I bought is in the form of a fine powder. I just spread it around the area where the bugs are so they have to walk through it. it works by cutting into their exoskeleton, no toxins involved. Good Luck.
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  12. katieandiggy

    katieandiggy Well-Known Member

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    I always us boiling water on ants but with an enclosure that size I’m not sure if it would work.

    p.s- absolutely fantastic enclosure
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  13. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Terro ant baits work well. They take it back to the nest and it kills the queen. Here are a few other ideas:

    Several Home-made Ant Remedies


    1 – Boric Acid

    Ingredients:

    1 Tablespoon of Boric Acid, 1 tsp of Sugar, 4 oz water, Cotton Balls.

    Mix Boric Acid and Sugar in a bowl. This can be poured over a cotton wad in

    a small dish or bottle cap. Keep this from drying out for continued

    effectiveness. Place Cotton balls in path of Ants. If the ants are drawn to sugar, if you make a solution of boric acid and sugar, not too much boric acid initially, the ants will eat it up take it to their young and feed it to them. This method will kill the entire nest in about two weeks. The solution should initially be weak because you don't want them to taste the boric acid and you don't want to kill the ants before they feed the rest of the nest. If they are protein eating ants mix the boric acid in broth.



    2 – Another Boric Acid


    >> 1 teaspoon boric acid (available at any drug store,, $2.99 for 4 oz) 6 tablespoons sugar

    >> 2 cups water

    >> mix together in a jar till all dissolved,, label and store safely.

    >>Soak a few cotton balls with it, then put them in a small, covered plastic >container (margarine or <?>) with a few small openings in it for the ants to >get in, (I also put a brick on top so other curious creatures could not get >in)and then freshen it 1-2 times a week.

    >> This is a slow acting 1 percent solution to get them to take some back to

    >> the nest and even feed the queen :>

    >>after a few weeks changing to a 1/2 percent solution should keep them gone.


    3 - bacon grease

    ....in a margarine tub which is sunk into the ground level. The ants here can smell animal fat from what seems like a mile away...Around the outside of the margarine tub I place a big circle of boric acid...and cover it with a rock. The ants have to walk through the boric acid to get to the bacon grease, then back through it on the way out. If they get back to the nest carrying it on their legs, it kills whatever it comes into contact with. We have 4or 5 species of ants here...two of which are lethal!


    4 - Found this in Jerry Bakers stuff

    Ant Ambrosia

    4-5 tbsp. of cornmeal

    3 tbsp. of bacon grease

    3 tbsp. of baking powder

    3 packages of baker's yeast


    Mix the cornmeal and bacon grease into a paste, then add the baking powder and yeast. Dab the gooey mix on the sides of jar lids, and set them near the anthills. The pesky critters will love it to death!!""



    5 - If you can't find Everclear, liquefy orange peels and pour it around the ant hills. You may get fruit flies, but you won't have any trouble with ants!


    6 - I have a friend that put a circle of diatomaceous earth around her aviaries and

    effectively kept the ants out that way. She also uses it to directly attack any hills in the area.


    7 - I believe that the "new age chalk" is a combination of diatomaceous earth and boric acid. Boric acid is the major component in "Roach Proof" and is a fairly benign and very effective means of insect control.


    8 - Amdro is another effective treatment, but it is an actual poison, but safer than others. Both Amdro and Logic are baits that the ants pick up and take into the mound so that the queen eats it.

    Personally, I use Raid on red, biting ants. I dig a little volcano in the top of the ant hill then spray the heck out of it so the spray goes down into the hole. Raid leaves a residual, so the ants won't come back to that spot. After spraying, I place a piece of plywood with a brick on it over the hole so the tortoises can't get to it. I keep doing that to all the holes I can find in the tortoise yards. Eventually they get the idea and stay out of the tortoise yards.
  14. Loni

    Loni Member

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    I had a yard that was half fire ant hill because there were a lot of fruit trees. I used the "erupting volcano" recipe from the kids science fairs. Sprinkle the ant hill liberally with baking soda and then pour concentrated white vinegar (from Home Depot, etc not food grade) on it. The resulting foam is acidic and follows their tunnels into the nest itself and kills them. Then water heavily to disperse the residue when it is done. Didn't have tortoises at the time but was safe for dogs and cats.
  15. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Thank you! Will look into this!
  16. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    I tried a pot of boiling water, but it would take a huge amount all at once to do any good.
    Glad you like his enclosure!
  17. lunacris

    lunacris New Member

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  18. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Wow, Yvonne...thanks! This is a real treasure trove!
    Chug spent the night in the bathroom, and didn't freak out, so he can stay in til the ants are controlled.

  19. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    This sounds like fun! Thank you!
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  20. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    I've ordered this from Amazon. Should be here on Sunday. Exactly how do you use it over a fairly large area with many holes into the ground?
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