Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Got Ants? (Part 2)

Ants congregate where there's food, so there must be plenty of ants at Oysterfest. A month ago I wrote a post about ants and received a detailed comment from Mandy Robinson at Prudential Cape Shores, so Mandy, this post is for you. What to do about bugs is an extremely timely subject. Should pesticides be used? Two days ago I wrote about trying to catch ticks with dry ice and posted information on an organic insect repellent. On Friday, the Chicago Tribune ran a story called ‘Hold the pesticides, bug experts say: Green alternatives work just as well to zap the bad bugs of summer while sparing the good bugs.’ As you all know, I am always happy to suggest options that do not require pesticides because pesticides filter down through our sandy soil into our single source aquifer. The Chicago Tribune article mentions ammonia will deter ants, that you should wipe their trail clean. Since I promised Mandy I would follow-up with some environmentally safe pest removal companies, available on Cape Cod, I spent part of my afternoon yesterday searching the Yellow Pages ...

“What do you recommend for the removal of ants?” I asked a rep at A1 Exterminators in Harwich.

“Crack and crevice treatment …with Suspend. It’s a spray,” said a young woman. “Or, bait can be tried but that takes more time.” When I asked about environmentally friendly options, she said she did not know of any.

Ants, Etc. in Mashpee sounded promising, but I got an answering machine.

I found Terminix listed under Environmental & Ecological Services and called to ask about options.

The woman spoke so fast I only caught half her words: "...inside and outside your home."

“What product do you use? Is it a chemical?”

“We do not provide that information over the phone. Can you give me your zip code? Sometimes we do offer a non-chemical product. Hold while I check to see if it’s available in your area.”

Unfortunately, no Terminix operators use a natural product on Cape Cod. I expressed surprise and suggested it might be a good idea to start such a service. She said she did not think this would happen and added, “Thank you for choosing Terminix.”

I was about to point out that I had NOT chosen Terminix, but the woman had already hung up.

Next I called a pest company in Boston. On Angie’s List, I read that Environmental Health Service had rescued someone with an ant problem for a mere $200: “They were fabulous. I had a raging ant problem. Suddenly I had hundreds of them in my house. It was awful. They came out right away and sprayed the perimeter of the house. The ants were gone within 12 hours. It was like a miracle.”

Here’s the EHS response: “I would love to say we perform miracles but unfortunately that is not the case. You had a severe ant infestation that had a brood nest (main) nest around the exterior of your home. It was linked to several satellite colonies in and around your home. Our detailed inspection located several colonies including the main one and our treatment directly to them eliminated the infestation completely in a short period of time. This meant that we eliminated the problem with zero need to treat the interior of your home as many other firms like to do. This is a more environmentally friendly method that obviously yields great results.”

Environmental Health Service covers all of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Optimistic, I placed a call. EHS does not come to the Cape, but recommends Cape Cod Pest Pros in Sandwich.

“Oh, must be sugar ants,” the amiable man at Cape Cod Pest Pros told me after listening to my report of last month's invasion by half a dozen ants, resolved with cayenne pepper. “They live in soil around the foundation of the house and find their way up through water lines. It’s a simple fix: soil treatment with a gel bait that’s less toxic than Lysol.”

“Sounds great!” I exclaimed.

“Where do you live?”


“We don’t go down to Wellfleet. But I can recommend a great guy at A1 Exterminators ….”

Whoa! Already did that. So I called back and ended up recommending that A1 adopt some of the practices of Cape Cod Pest Pros and Environmental Health Services, that realtors would send them hundreds of clients. I doubt that will happen since the owner is in Lynn, but who knows? In the meantime, Mandy, you can always suggest ammonia as a deterrent ….