How do I get rid of these ant hills in my yard? (Perry, Long Island, NY, USA)




Dear AntAsk,
I am requesting assistance in handling an untenable situation that has besieged my property over the last several years. Thirteen years ago I bought a home in a new development in the central part of Long Island, New York. The property had previously been a wooded area. Over the last several years, the ant population has steadily increased on my property, lifting whole sections of our yard and killing the grass. We have fortunately not had any problems inside the house. The only issue is the surrounding property. From late April to early August, there are several 3-5 five foot areas that are ravaged with large ant holes. The ants tend to be large, swift moving and will readily climb all over your leg if you stop in the area, leaving large parts of our back yard uninhabitable. They are active during the day and become less active in the late afternoon. They are not ant hill per se, but tend to be large inter-connected holes in the earth with seemingly hundreds of ants scurrying about. The soil is sandy and each passing year, the ants seem to have taken over more and more of the backyard, bringing up sand that now covers whatever top soil we had laid down to grow grass. I have tried the granular insect and ant killers found in stores, but this does little to stop the ants. I've tried some of the outdoor traps that are supposed to supply food that will eventually kill the queen, but the ants merely scoff at such measures. I've tried to research this on the internet, but could never really find a solution. The attached photos do not do justice to my plight. The video is a bit better. If this is not enough info, I will try to supply better photos and video if you would be willing to assist. If not, thanks for reading this far.

With kindest consideration,

Perry

Dear Perry,

Thanks for the question. In general, one of the most effective and least chemically-intensive ways of killing ants is pouring a large amount of boiling water onto their nests. This is especially effective in sandy soils. You would probably have the most luck doing this around mid-morning on a sunny day, because ants will often take their brood (eggs, larvae, and pupae) close to the surface to warm up.

If this doesn't work, you can get some tips on a generalizable way to mix your own poisoned baits that these ants might be likely to enjoy here or here. If you know anyone involved in science education, designing a cafeteria experiment, as outlined in the second linked blog post, can be an excellent "learning opportunity."

As a general rule, we encourage you to enjoy watching ants, and attempt to coexist with them in your house and yard. However, using boiling water and/or borax will most likely be much less expensive and have a much smaller environmental impact than most treatments a pest control professional would be likely to try.

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

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