What are these yellow ants and how do I get rid of them? (Karen, Alpine, Texas, USA)


Hello,

I have these ants in my kitchen in West Texas (Alpine). They appear
in the evening, have the run of the pantry, garbage, and countertops
and seem to disappear during the day. There used to be just a few but
now they are everywhere. They never get into food I can see - they
just do what the ant in the picture is doing, seemingly eating
nothing.

What are they, and how do I get rid of them?

I appreciate your help.

Regards,
Karen
Camponotus fragilis


Karen,

Great picture, and great question! I think they look like Camponotus fragilis, a common species in the Southwestern US. As for some hints at how to get rid of them, we've outlined a general approach in a previous blog post (click here). If you decide to poison the ants, you might consider trying to do a quick "cafeteria" test to see what kind of bait you should mix with. Simply line up a few drops (liquid foods are preferable because you can mix them evenly with the poison) of different kinds of food on some wax paper, and see what the ants go for. I often try peanut butter, fake maple syrup, and pureed tuna fish (but perhaps see if they go for the peanut butter or maple syrup first, because pureed tuna fish can get kind of messy!).

But don't forget to try to figure out how they're getting in, and block off the entrance. If more ants keep getting inside, you won't be able to solve the problem with poisoned bait.

I hope this helps!
Best,
Jesse Czekanski-Moir & the AntAsk Team

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I recently asked about getting rid of carpenter ants in my kitchen in West Texas. Well, we called the only pest control person in town and he's telling us they are Argentine ants and he wants to spray Talstar all over the outside walls, the perimeter of the house, and in my kitchen! Talstar sounds like terrible stuff. I read about tracking the ants to their nest but the nest appears to be in the roof of our house. I haven't been able to locate the nest on the ground - all the ants just seem to go into the roof which I can't access it easily. What is your opinion of this pesticide? I know these are Argentine ants so our pest guy worries me.

Thanks,
Karen

Karen,

Personally, I would always try a less toxic solution before trying something more serious (and perhaps expensive). The borax recipe that many people recommend for the targeted poisoning of ants uses a chemical (Borax) that is found in many people's homes already, is very safe for people and pets, and is cheap. It might be a good option to try before going a more serious route. In general, when making an informed decision about whether to use an unfamiliar chemical, it is a good idea to look up the MSDS. Many can be found online. Talstar's is here:
http://msds.fmc.com/msds/100000014552-MSDS_US-E.pdf
It seems it is relatively safe for humans and pets, but is very toxic to fish and other animals that live in the water, which might be something to consider if you live very close to a body of water.

As for the identity of the ants, they are almost certainly a close relative of Camponotus fragilis. Argentine ants are dark-colored, and have a differently shaped back (there are many other differences if you look under a microscope). See especially pictures by Alex Wild here: http://www.alexanderwild.com/Ants/Taxonomic-List-of-Ant-Genera/Linepithema/8802612_hzDGN#582828666_iNrXy-A-LB
Is there any possibility that he was talking about ants that weren't the ones you showed us? This is something of a troubling mistake for a pest control specialist to make.

Ultimately, you have to decide what to do. We think it's great that you're taking the time to make an informed decision.

Best,
Jesse Czekanski-Moir & the AntAsk Team.

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