Carpenter Ants in Recently Puchased Mulch

sue36(Z5 Maine)June 3, 2008

I had 7 yards of brown pine mulch delivered last Thursday. It is infested with carpenter ants. Winged and non-winged, they are emerging from the pile. They've been discovered in the DH's truck, in the garage, etc.

DH is steamed, to say the least. Out house is pretty new and we don't have an ant problem and don't want one. Getting the house treated will be at least a few hundred dollars. All for some mulch!

Any ideas on what we should do? Would I be unreasonable to tell them to come pick up this mulch? Should we spread it but treat it as we do so? Any ideas are appreciated.

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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

In order for the winged adults to survive, they must mate and the female must find suitable place to live.

Carpenter ants typcially go to moisture damaged wood. So if your house is dry, you won't have a problem.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 7:52PM
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led_zep_rules(5 WI)

Ditto to the above advice. A truck is not a place that carpenter ants can live in the long term. A house in good shape, i.e., without soggy parts, will not be appealing to carpenter ants. Since your house is fairly new, the wood should be solid and protected from the elements. Carpenter ants in the yard aren't really a problem.

However, I would certainly contact the company that sold you the pine mulch and complain to them. Maybe they will give you some money back or ? Kind of too late for them to scoop up all the ants, I am sure many have dissipated into the environment by now. I don't think you need to do anything toxic to your house or yard, just squish any ants you see personally. If you poison the mulch, why would you want to spread it around your plants?!?

Marcia

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 1:48AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

For that tribe to survive long term it needs to have a nest with a queen, no queen and these gals will die off in about 30 days whether you do anything or not. As long as your house is tight and dry these wee buggers will not invade it, or any other structure you have that is also tight and dry. There is not much real need for you do do anything, unless you do find the nest with a queen.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 6:43AM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

**Would I be unreasonable to tell them to come pick up this mulch? **

No of course not. It's unethical to deliver infested mulch (perhaps also illigal).

Have your DH call and ask them tho pick up the mulch immediately, and if the company is slow to comply, suggest the consequences. There's small-claims court if you have to pay somebody else to haul it away.

Take pictures/video, so you have proof of your claim, should you have to provide it in small-claims court to recoup your hauling expenses. Get written estimates for the cost and the reasons for hauling the mulch away.

Alternately, you could drench the mulch in soapy water with a bit of oil added and see if that kills the ants. I don't know if it would. There are possibly also eggs of the next generation.

For indoor use, there's Terro Ant Killer, liquid 1 fl.oz bottles. Active ingredient: Sodium Tetraborate Decahydrate 5.40%. Available at many hardware stores.

Your DH has good reason to be outraged.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 12:20PM
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scausey(z6/7 MD)

Speaking of ants, I have zillions of yellow ants in my compost heap - should I be worried?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 12:37PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

If you ask them to take it back, don't be surprised if they refuse or if they even laugh at you.

As has been said, you and yours and your house aren't in danger.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 7:47PM
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sue36(Z5 Maine)

DH has created a little pile of the ant corpses. More than 24 hours later and he is still POed. I haven't called the mulch supplier yet due to the possible laughter scenario.

Any chance the queen is in the pile somewhere? What would it look it? Can another ant "convert" to become the queen?

If I seem a little paranoid about this it's because carpenter ants have caused thousands of dollars in damage to my father's house, the latest incident was just a few weeks ago.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 8:56PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Any chance the queen is in the pile somewhere?
There is that possibilty.
What would it look it?
A really big and mishappen Carpenter Ant.
Can another ant "convert" to become the queen?
There is that possibility, but it is not a probability.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 7:43AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

All of the ones with wings are either males or they are unmated females with the potential of becoming queens once mated. That's the whole reason for the winged stage.

Though I agree that you probaby don't have much to worry about, you could ease your mind by calling in a professional exterminator and asking for a carpenter ant search. They might even put some bait stations out.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 11:54AM
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