Tawny/Raspberry crazy ants

Captain Murphy

New Member
Joined
May 20, 2017
Messages
10
Hello everyone!
Recently I relocated to a place overrun with crazy ants. If you're not familiar with these ants, I hope you never have to be.
I've seen some great advice for treatments of ants and their hills like boric acid concoctions, so I'm throwing my line out to see if anyone here has experience in dealing with these crazy ants. These ants do not have hills and they have multiple queens. They get into and run all over everything, but generally do not bite. They like to climb into and under things, and are notorious for shorting out electrical. They are unlike any invasive ants I have ever come across here in Texas.

My partner uses pesticides and with my torts pens only 20-30ft from where he'll spray, this has become a point of contention for us and extreme anxiety for me. The idea of regularly spraying pesticides just to live here while also keeping tortoises nearby throws my anxiety into high gear because I don't want my tortoises exposed. I find myself reconsidering tortoises altogether (I have had them for years and had a strict no-pesticide policy where I lived before) every time spraying is brought up because the ants are particularly active (-- some days they're very active, some days they're not).
The pens are cinder blocks arranged 1 block high, and so far I have only come up with covering them with tarps and moving potted plants far, far away from spraying areas.
What else can I do? Would any of you consider giving up your tortoises if regular pesticide application couldn't be avoided?
Edit: I should probably add that he says he tried "all the hippy solutions" before resorting to poison including DE and orange oil to no avail.

Thank you in advance for any help or advice.
 
Last edited:

ZenHerper

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2020
Messages
1,676
Location (City and/or State)
New Jersey
Ants are problematic because their burrows can be at quite a distance from their feeding grounds. DE has to be carried all the way back and down to the nursery in order to kill larvae -- you have to use A LOT of the powder all over the place in order to make headway. Homes situated on top of, or infested with multiple colonies are a nightmare.

Poisons that are carried in bait solutions/gels seem more effective since they are taken and shared around with the entire colony in short time periods.

Someone with a favorite brand will no doubt come along soon, but I'll keep you company!

Donut?

*pours coffee*
 

Captain Murphy

New Member
Joined
May 20, 2017
Messages
10
Ants are problematic because their burrows can be at quite a distance from their feeding grounds. DE has to be carried all the way back and down to the nursery in order to kill larvae -- you have to use A LOT of the powder all over the place in order to make headway. Homes situated on top of, or infested with multiple colonies are a nightmare.

Poisons that are carried in bait solutions/gels seem more effective since they are taken and shared around with the entire colony in short time periods.

Someone with a favorite brand will no doubt come along soon, but I'll keep you company!

Donut?

*pours coffee*

Thank you for your reply.
These ants will move under and into potted plants in a matter of a day or so. They once moved into a dirt-filled coke bottle after I placed it into a 5 gallon bucket I was using to pick up trash around the property.
I have to move potted plants around regularly and flood with water to keep them from moving in completely. I once neglected to do this with one pot and it took a week or agitate them enough to get them to mostly move out. I see them carrying many larvae out when I simulate earthquakes and flooding.
 

Calaveras

Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2019
Messages
58
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento area California
Make sure that you identified the ant correctly if switching to baits. One issue that people have is using the wrong stuff to kill ants. In your area many of the ant baits are going to be targeted at Fire Ants which prefer greasy baits with oils like potato chips or spam. Using a fire ant bait would be a waste of your time as the crazy ants prefer sugar.
article from Texas A&M that says that many insecticides have a difficult time controlling this species.

If I were you I would find the package of the pesticide that is being applied and read the label. The Environmental Hazards section is going to have warnings if it is a problem. (one ant bait states "highly toxic to birds" another states "toxic to birds, fish and aquatic insects". That should be the basis for a discussion with your partner especially if it states that it is toxic to reptiles. (I have seen one that does. it is used in commercial termite treatments) If you are not using these products in the tortoise enclosure and there is a 20 foot buffer, I would find that acceptable. You could work on controlling the ants inside the enclosure yourself so that it does not become infested and become a source of contention.

I keep honeybees and ants are a constant issue. What I do is mix boric acid with honey or jelly as a bait. It works by eating away the gut of the insect. It is not as effective as insecticides, but works well enough if you find a food they love and is safer for me and my turtles in my opinion.
 

turtlesteve

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2012
Messages
548
Nuke it from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure...

Seriously no idea... I can’t get regular fire ants under control and a friend of mine moved to west Georgia somewhere that has crazy ants. He says they’re way worse than fire ants even though they don’t bite. So I just hope to god they don’t show up here anytime soon.

The only “home remedy” I am aware of that kind of helps on fire ants is to dust a little dry laundry detergent powder on nests right before a long drenching rain. It will cut the surface tension on the water and drown most of them - but there are always enough survivors to rebuild.
 

Captain Murphy

New Member
Joined
May 20, 2017
Messages
10
Make sure that you identified the ant correctly if switching to baits. One issue that people have is using the wrong stuff to kill ants. In your area many of the ant baits are going to be targeted at Fire Ants which prefer greasy baits with oils like potato chips or spam. Using a fire ant bait would be a waste of your time as the crazy ants prefer sugar.
article from Texas A&M that says that many insecticides have a difficult time controlling this species.

If I were you I would find the package of the pesticide that is being applied and read the label. The Environmental Hazards section is going to have warnings if it is a problem. (one ant bait states "highly toxic to birds" another states "toxic to birds, fish and aquatic insects". That should be the basis for a discussion with your partner especially if it states that it is toxic to reptiles. (I have seen one that does. it is used in commercial termite treatments) If you are not using these products in the tortoise enclosure and there is a 20 foot buffer, I would find that acceptable. You could work on controlling the ants inside the enclosure yourself so that it does not become infested and become a source of contention.

I keep honeybees and ants are a constant issue. What I do is mix boric acid with honey or jelly as a bait. It works by eating away the gut of the insect. It is not as effective as insecticides, but works well enough if you find a food they love and is safer for me and my turtles in my opinion.

From what I understand, fire ants used to be the problem until these crazy ants showed up. Honestly, I'd really like it if the fire ants came back. At least they're manageable.
My area is a vast group of neighborhoods and somewhat rural. There are no fire ants left in this neighborhood and these ants are the subject of a lot of complaining when it comes to pest control, garden projects, etc on our n'hood FB group. People around here keep livestock, bees, etc. so they either find some potent pesticide to spray themselves, or call professionals like Orkin or local pest control companies.

Trying to keep most of the tort pens dry seems to help manage the ants, but otherwise I do nothing inside their pens. The problem isn't inside their pens as much as it is the electrical of our well and keeping them out of our living space. He wants to spray the contact areas where our 5th wheel touches the ground to keep them from coming inside (which they have).

Thank you for your response and input on this. I wasn't sure what an acceptable buffer zone would be, but you've given me something to work with now. I will also look at the label of the pesticide he uses. I really appreciate your time in trying to help me.
 

Captain Murphy

New Member
Joined
May 20, 2017
Messages
10
Nuke it from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure...

Seriously no idea... I can’t get regular fire ants under control and a friend of mine moved to west Georgia somewhere that has crazy ants. He says they’re way worse than fire ants even though they don’t bite. So I just hope to god they don’t show up here anytime soon.

The only “home remedy” I am aware of that kind of helps on fire ants is to dust a little dry laundry detergent powder on nests right before a long drenching rain. It will cut the surface tension on the water and drown most of them - but there are always enough survivors to rebuild.

The 'nuke from orbit on first sight' is my partner's approach in dealing with pests so they never develop into a problem. Unfortunately, there is no way to do this with the crazy ants. In fact, there are *no* fire ants left.
I have no confidence in using fire ant methods because there are no visible nests for these ants. No mounds or hills --only crazy ants everywhere. They live in the dirt underneath everything and the impression I got from what I've read is that their "nests" are like that giant underground fungus just spreading outward until it's massive. They have multiple queens and so they spread their homes until they're all connected into a giant network of crazy ants.

Thank you for your time in responding and trying to help. I really appreciate it.
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
5,202
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
There must be some place that they use to get underground. I would look for that place.

Sprays go everywhere and don't last that long. Even if you can't find the underground entrance, I would find a product that you pour into their holes. Either liquid or granules. That will help inhibit the contamination of your tort pens.

I've never had DE or boric acid work. It takes poison.

But it was fire ants that I had, in my tort's enclosure.
 

Captain Murphy

New Member
Joined
May 20, 2017
Messages
10
There must be some place that they use to get underground. I would look for that place.

Sprays go everywhere and don't last that long. Even if you can't find the underground entrance, I would find a product that you pour into their holes. Either liquid or granules. That will help inhibit the contamination of your tort pens.

I've never had DE or boric acid work. It takes poison.

But it was fire ants that I had, in my tort's enclosure.

I wish it were that simple. There isn't some hole going down into their nest. They're just all over the place. They congregate under rocks, potted plants, anything you set down on the ground that they fancy. When they're active, all you have to do is step outside and they will cover your shoes and start crawling all over. They climb all over everything, so any cord, wire, cable or vine becomes a crazy ant highway. Put a bucket down on the ground and leave it for a day or two. The next time you pick it up, literal hundreds will scatter.
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
5,202
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
These sound like the ants from a horror movie! And I thought the fire ants were bad.

When you find a solution, please post it. And I hope you and your partner can come to an agreement.
 

newCH

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2014
Messages
522
Location (City and/or State)
So.FL
I have had similar expierences. The solution for us was to not put Sheldon on the ground.
His enclosure that he spends the most time in now is on top of a 6x3 foot table. I have secured it with bungee
cords underneath the table. Very soon I am relocating him to a 7x13 concrete slab for his run when I am home.
Yes, sometimes I find a few ants that have climbed the legs of the table, so I kill them.
I think rain brings them out of the ground.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
89,023
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
When I had an outdoor baby enclosure I set empty tuna cans under each foot of the table and filled the cans with oil.
 

newCH

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2014
Messages
522
Location (City and/or State)
So.FL
Wow, I like that idea ! Might do that some day !
 

zovick

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
1,894
Hello everyone!
Recently I relocated to a place overrun with crazy ants. If you're not familiar with these ants, I hope you never have to be.
I've seen some great advice for treatments of ants and their hills like boric acid concoctions, so I'm throwing my line out to see if anyone here has experience in dealing with these crazy ants. These ants do not have hills and they have multiple queens. They get into and run all over everything, but generally do not bite. They like to climb into and under things, and are notorious for shorting out electrical. They are unlike any invasive ants I have ever come across here in Texas.

My partner uses pesticides and with my torts pens only 20-30ft from where he'll spray, this has become a point of contention for us and extreme anxiety for me. The idea of regularly spraying pesticides just to live here while also keeping tortoises nearby throws my anxiety into high gear because I don't want my tortoises exposed. I find myself reconsidering tortoises altogether (I have had them for years and had a strict no-pesticide policy where I lived before) every time spraying is brought up because the ants are particularly active (-- some days they're very active, some days they're not).
The pens are cinder blocks arranged 1 block high, and so far I have only come up with covering them with tarps and moving potted plants far, far away from spraying areas.
What else can I do? Would any of you consider giving up your tortoises if regular pesticide application couldn't be avoided?
Edit: I should probably add that he says he tried "all the hippy solutions" before resorting to poison including DE and orange oil to no avail.

Thank you in advance for any help or advice.
We don't have those same ants here in GA (yet), but we have loads of other ants. I have successfully used a product called Orthene which is a smelly white powder. Since it is a powder, its application is more controllable than a spray. You sprinkle it where the ants have a hill and in a day or so, they are dead. I have also found that ground nesting yellow jackets seem to be killed by placing it around the entrance holes to their nests. I would think you could put this powder wherever you have found the ants congregating and see what happens to them. IE, under your flower pots, etc..

I will also say that I once had a tortoise knock over the barrier I had put around one of the areas where I had applied this Orthene and, much to my dismay, I found her eating the Orthene (not that it smells good or anything close to good)!!! She had apparently eaten a fair amount of it, too, as there was a good amount of pasty white powder residue all around her mouth. The tortoise never had any ill effects from it and later that year, and in subsequent years, she laid fertile eggs which hatched. She is still alive and producing babies today, 7-8 years after the ingestion incident. Obviously, I wouldn't recommend letting your tortoises eat this product, but wanted to say that mine did do so, and had no problems.
 

Captain Murphy

New Member
Joined
May 20, 2017
Messages
10
I have had similar expierences. The solution for us was to not put Sheldon on the ground.
His enclosure that he spends the most time in now is on top of a 6x3 foot table. I have secured it with bungee
cords underneath the table. Very soon I am relocating him to a 7x13 concrete slab for his run when I am home.
Yes, sometimes I find a few ants that have climbed the legs of the table, so I kill them.
I think rain brings them out of the ground.

I have noticed that the ants emerge and run everywhere after a rain, or on days when the humidity is just right. When a couple of the sleeping tubs got rain in them, the top soil substrate was moist for a while. All it took was a blade of grass brushing against one of the legs past the oil cup (that the feet were in) and the ants moved into the moist substrate. The tubs with dry substrate had significantly fewer ants.
Thank you for your response and input. I appreciate it.
 

Captain Murphy

New Member
Joined
May 20, 2017
Messages
10
When I had an outdoor baby enclosure I set empty tuna cans under each foot of the table and filled the cans with oil.

I have sleeping tubs for my torts as they are still smallish to fit in them. These tables are set up outside with the feet in cans of oil. It worked okay for some time, but need to be redone with shielding for the oil cans. This is not a long term solution for me because my sulcata will some day grow out of any tub I could put on the table.
 

zovick

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
1,894
@Captain Murphy Ive read the Posts....but where are you located? Geeze, these “ants” sound nasty. So, where should I not relocate to. Sounds bad. ! Don’t say Florida.
I would venture to say they are probably someplace in TX. These ants were first noted in Houston around 2002 and have gradually been spreading out from there.
 

iAmCentrochelys sulcata

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
Messages
1,318
Location (City and/or State)
Alief
I would venture to say they are probably someplace in TX. These ants were first noted in Houston around 2002 and have gradually been spreading out from there.
They are all over my Melon plants! Maybe because my sister left her strawberry shake outside...
 

Captain Murphy

New Member
Joined
May 20, 2017
Messages
10
@Captain Murphy Ive read the Posts....but where are you located? Geeze, these “ants” sound nasty. So, where should I not relocate to. Sounds bad. ! Don’t say Florida.

I live in a small college town between Austin and San Antonio, Texas, which is home of the Central Texas Tortoise Rescue. The CTTR is probably within 10-15mi of my location and yet, they do not have these ants at their facility. I am jealous, and I hope it stays that way.
 
Top