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Ants in My Electronics

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We seem to have ants that are attracted to our electronic devices. Anybody else with this problem? Very small, and we've found them inside a clock radio, my printer, and an IP camera... heaven knows where else they might be. I've read about some ants liking the electrical field inside such devices, but the camera wasn't plugged into anything (maybe they were just checking it out). I've put out "bait" in the form of sugar & boric acid with a little water... they seem to like it, but continue coming back for more. Doesn't seem to be killing them off.

Here's an article that might be relevant, by the way:

http://www.livescience.com/37720-crazy-ants-invade-electronics.html

I'd appreciate hearing from anybody else who has dealt with these beasties, especially if you know what gets rid of them. Thanks!

Heather

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I like how the article says "This creates a vicious cycle that can leave appliances broken and full of dead (and angry) ants." I guess I'd be angry too if I was dead this way...

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In TX we have problems with them in AC units etc where you have relays that open/close. Each time it creates a tiny arc and that creates ozone which attracts the ants. Here I've had them in security cams and sensors, but they're outside and just a convenient place to nest I guess.

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Heather, I have had small ants coming in a crack in a kitchen window and nesting in a decorative jar by the window. I have something called Terro ant killer that I brought from the US. You put a dab on a piece of cardboard and presto no ants, and only a few dead ants, so no messy cleanup, and easily hidden from pets. I'd recommend putting out 3 or so little pieces of cardboard with dabs of Terro. I doubt that you need to put it inside the computer, but you can do that if you like. I also have plastic ant traps with Terro, but that is really overkill in the packaging dept. Anyway, if you PM me I will give you some. I have not found it here, but if someone knows where you can get it, I hope they will advise. This stuff really works. BTW, I suspect you just have the regular little determined ants whom I have met regularly all thru my 8 years here.

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DE sprinkled on the access point...window sill whatever...works great! I love that it isn't a poison so I don't have to worry about my fur kids.

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Cookie, what is "DE?" Sounds good since I also have fur kids.

JayBear, thanks for the offer. I might get in touch for a sample. Yes these might be just "normal" ants, as what I've read says many types of ants are attracted to electronics. I really don't mind them in my kitchen so much, but endangering the Sacred Computer Equipment will bring out the battle gear!

Is this the stuff you're talking about, by the way?

http://www.amazon.com/TERRO-Liquid-Ant-Killer-T200/dp/B0015031R8/ref=sr_1_2?s=lawn-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1403310640&sr=1-2&keywords=terro+ant+killer

Heather

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DE is probably diatomaceous earth. Good stuff, that. Not a chemical poison -- it works by having microscopic sharp edges that cut into walking insects and kill them.

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Thanks, Lobita. Have been meaning to get some of that anyway (although I can't remember for what now... maybe some of hubby's gardening?).

Heather

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They are called "sugar ants" in the states.

They send out scouts that leave a chemical trail, then everyone else follows.

There are several things you can do:

regular Windex will kill them better than anything else that I have found and it is safe. Just spray, wait a minute and wipe them up.

Find the trail coming in and spray along it with ammonia. It kills the trail and they don't know where to go.

To kill them, mix about 1 tablespoon of boric acid (hardware store) with a small bottle of Karo syrup. Put the syrup in a glass container, warm it in a microwave, add the boric acid and mix it in, then put back in the bottle. This is what is in the commercial mixes. Find the trail and put drops along the trail. If you can find the nest, put a ring around the nest and along the trail.

The boric works by killing the nest. The workers eat the stuff, take it back to the nest and feeding the young and the queen. It takes about a week to work.

Boric acid is actually quite mild and relatively non poisonous. It is actually used in some prepared foods. You would have to ingest a pretty good amount before it would make you sick so it is safe around animals but I'd keep them out of it.

The syrup will harden up in about 3 days, so you have to keep replacing it until the nest dies. The closer you can put the bait to the nest, the better it works.

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Thanks JRM. We've been putting out a boric acid mixture and they do like it (used sugar, boric acid, and just a bit of water), but still have lots of them showing up. Either the boric acid mix isn't working, or there are a butt-load of these suckers coming to eat in shifts! :D

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I have had success spraying counters and access points with a saturated salt and water solution. They don't seem to like that too much. Then again, if you leave them alone they are pretty good at cleaning up your messes that you may have missed on clean up.

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Cleaning up my messes... Now there's a practical use for Mother Nature! :D

When the ants were in our clock radio, we got rid of them by putting the radio outside in the sun for a bit, which helped them decide it wasn't such a great location after all. If we can just get the sun to come out for a bit today, that might be a good option for my printer and other electronics. I could probably use a good dusting behind everything anyway, and will sprinkle some boric acid around while I'm at it.

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions.

Heather

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I placed the radio in a plastic bag and place the bag and radio in the freezer. Then opened the radio after some time in the freezer to clean up...

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That would be good for a radio, but I don't particularly want to open up my scanner/printer... seems easier to place it somewhere they will want to leave on their own, so I don't have to clean out dead ants.

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You shouldn't be thinking to kill the ants - the queen ants will notice a shortage of workers and step up production of eggs. Thats what is good about boric acid, they take it back to the nest to feed the larvae, and it dries the life out of the whole nest. I have heard that sometimes the Sugar (or Pharoah) ants change their appetite, and like oily things, like peanut butter. Check your proportions, remember the trick is for them to think of it as food. Unfortunately, Cutter ants do not fall for this trick and it is hard to poison their food.

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I had this problem once when my kids were small, but then we discovered a slice of french toast inside the tape compartment. We took that out and the ants went away.

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Thanks JRM. We've been putting out a boric acid mixture and they do like it (used sugar, boric acid, and just a bit of water), but still have lots of them showing up. Either the boric acid mix isn't working, or there are a butt-load of these suckers coming to eat in shifts! :D

It takes several weeks. The workers carry it back and feed the queen and the young and eventually, the nest dies.

If you can find the nest entrance in the ground, I put some boric acid in a baby powder container with some rice and dust the nest entrance. I don't know if it helps but it makes me feel like I'm doing something

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Regardless of the treatment (DE, Boric Acid, insecticide powders), use the measure promptly, and consider having an electronics savvy person check the device. Some species of ants make nests that use a natural adhesive to bond their nesting material to the circuit boards or electrical contacts. The adhesives do conduct some electricity, and can cause overheating and other problems over time (if not removed), or they can cause sudden catastrophic shorts, ruining the boards. I had to clean or replace 6 different boards and contact sets at various friend's homes over the years - ruining things ranging from air conditioner controller boards to hydro-pneumatico switching units.

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Thanks, all. Things are calming down now. The boric acid mix, coupled with spraying, seems to have them on the run. Once we're not seeing them, I'll probably open the printer up and clean things out if needed. They didn't seem interested in sticking around inside the camera. Going to set some items in the sun today since it's finally out. So I think we have it under control. Thanks for all the suggestions and help. JayBear, thanks for the suggestion about Terro - we'll have our friends bring some back from the US when they go, in case it comes up again.

Heather

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I had this problem recently with small (sugar) ants getting inside my all-in-one printer and inside a cordless phone base. By the time that I discovered they were in either, they were well entrenched in both. :-/ I spotted about 25 ants in the printer under the scanner glass when I lifted the lid one day to scan something. Most of them were carrying eggs! Yikes! While I was researching how to get them out of there, they apparently branched out (as ants will do) and set up camp inside a 6" x 6" base of my Panasonic cordless phone. I spotted a few scouts coming out from under the phone base and when I lifted it up there were about 15 of so under the phone. I squished those (now I know not to do that thanks to this thread) and then tapped the base lightly on the desktop and out came about 50 more!! It was impossible to kill all of them because they went crazy (as ants will do) and were going in all directions at once.

I ordered some Terro from the US but had a problem when Amazon sent the package via UPS but for some reason selected a customs broker OTHER THAN UPS! Doh! So the package, which had made it across the border got sent back! Now I'm waiting and hoping that the replacement order makes it through--at least 2 weeks late and a month after my original order. :-/

Meantime a friend recommended DE (Diatomaceous earth). I have set the printer in a tray with the perimeter lined with a combo of DE, borax and sugar, and Ortho Ant Stop Plus (which I found locally), while I wait for the Terro to arrive. At that point I will place the printer in a large bag with some of the Terro traps and wait them out. I have also launched an all out assault on the little bastards outside, with a poison spray and DE all around the exterior.

I also determined that the ants are getting into the house through the conduit tubes carrying electrical wires from outside. There are a couple of conduit tubes left exposed to the outside! Doh!! :-/ I have spotted the emerging from gaps around at least three light switch plates. In the order that I hope is eventually coming from Amazon, I also have some materials for sealing off the light switches inside and at both ends of the conduit.

I was able to disassemble the cordless phone base and kill all of the ants inside, which numbered between 500 to 1,000!! It took a LOT of time and patience to get them all. The last step was to put the base in the freezer to kill any ants that remained, b/c I never did SEE the queen come out. I only hope that I can now reassemble the phone. :-/

I will report back after my efforts are finished. Hopefully with good news. However, after the all out exterior assault today I was amazed to see upon thousands of dead or dying ants with hundreds more streaming out of cracks in the concrete and elsewhere. I think it's going to be an ongoing battle. I really don't care if they live outside, but inside and in expensive electronics--that means WAR!!

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I've tried most everything mentioned in this thread, but so far, the only thing that seems to have worked is that I filled the cracks in the tile grout lines in the kitchen with some boric acid. That helped, but the final blow was spraying a thick mixture of liquid dish soap and water on the counter tops once a night and again in the morning. That put the nail in the coffin, we rarely see an ant anymore in the kitchen. Insecticides or boric acid never made much difference compared to the liquid soap.

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Pulled a radio apart this morning and it was chock full of earwigs!!! Yuk.

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I was having some mechanical work done in Ixtlahuacan on the 4x4 and I got a call from the mechanic saying the words every auto owner dreads - "we ran into a problem". It turns out not so bad, there was a nest of black widow spiders in the undercarriage and we had to pay another $200 pesos for them to get the exterminator in. It was funny because this is a family of mechanical geniuses who can fix anything - aircraft, marine - anything. They used to do a lot of racing. They were still afraid/cautious of spiders.

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