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My Cure For Cutter Ant Infestation


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After trying absolutely everything with no luck I may have found a solution. I mixed a solution of 2 tbsp of Boric Acid powder with some Canadian Maple Syrup ( such a waste!) Then poured it down the entrance to the nest. Next day zero ant activity!!! I think those little workers took the delicious treat to their Queen and end of story. I have watched the nest for  6 days and no activity. There were literally hundreds of the little buggars eating everything from our lawn and garden foliage. Just an fyi.

 

 

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I have found a nest will go inactive for weeks at a time and suddenly they start coming out of it again.  Keep a close eye on it.

The granular stuff has worked so far very well for us and doesn't have the hazard for pets the white powder does.  Recently a neighbor lost a dog after the dog walked in the powder and then licked it off.

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As Maincoons says, the particular tunnel goes inactive but they have lots of tunnels and they eventually go back with  vengeance in a different spot, yo Just becaus ethey have not been for a few weeks does not mean you took care of them . You can more or less control them but you will not eradicate them.

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We haven't had a problem. If I find a nest, I am going to try two experiments.The first is to fire up the vapor steam cleaner and fog their tunnel with live steam, 249F, cook the nest. The next is to find formic acid, which is what ants use to "bite", but is also critical to mark their food trails. This one leads directly into a bucket of water, with slippery plastic sides.

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This must be the new epidemic, my neighbors and I have those "hormigas corteros" as well, ugh.  We are using 2 remedies from the hardware store, one white powder - I don't think it is boric acid which I use for roaches - and some brown pellets.  Hopefully they will work.  If you want a real shock, google "cutter ants."  Their mounds can stretch for miles!

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9 hours ago, ezpz said:

This must be the new epidemic, my neighbors and I have those "hormigas corteros" as well, ugh.  We are using 2 remedies from the hardware store, one white powder - I don't think it is boric acid which I use for roaches - and some brown pellets.  Hopefully they will work.  If you want a real shock, google "cutter ants."  Their mounds can stretch for miles!

The white powder is usually hormigol which smells awful and slows the ants down for a bit I found.

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15 hours ago, CHILLIN said:

We haven't had a problem. If I find a nest, I am going to try two experiments.The first is to fire up the vapor steam cleaner and fog their tunnel with live steam, 249F, cook the nest. The next is to find formic acid, which is what ants use to "bite", but is also critical to mark their food trails. This one leads directly into a bucket of water, with slippery plastic sides.

This is an approach similar to one that I've thought about before.  In our garden with various food items for the leaf cutter ants there are flat paths that converge on a fountain which has a steep drop down into the water.  Once, I was cleaning the fountain and found several hundred dead leaf cutter ants in it.  Unfortunately, I could never figure out what had attracted them to the fountain. 

I looked up formic acid suppliers and learned that in concentrated form it is very dangerous in terms of flammability and toxicity.   I don't think it would work anyway based on the article on this topic I found at the URL:  The Importance of Pheromones as Trail Markers for Leaf Cutter Ants – Tropical Ecology 2016 (wordpress.com)

Some (all?) leaf cutter ants are attracted to sugar water which was a surprise to me and now I'm thinking of making a trail of sugar syrup droplets leading into the fountain to see if that would attract them.  Also, I was thinking of trying a trail of leaf chunks with and without sugar syrup drops on top to see how that might work.

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17 hours ago, CHILLIN said:

We haven't had a problem. If I find a nest, I am going to try two experiments.The first is to fire up the vapor steam cleaner and fog their tunnel with live steam, 249F, cook the nest. The next is to find formic acid, which is what ants use to "bite", but is also critical to mark their food trails. This one leads directly into a bucket of water, with slippery plastic sides.

As I understand it the Queen Ant of the cutter ant only eats the fungus off the leafs they gather so it is hard to kill her.  Also the nest may be a block or more away from where the cutter ants are working.  So the steam cleaner won't work but I have heard of them being gassed.  You run a hose from your car, lawnmower, etc to their hole and let it run a while.  If you kill enough of the worker ants, they will leave you alone for a while.  They are most active at night so I go out in the darkness and poison the active ants and their path.  

I also wonder since the plants don't shed their leaves like up north if the cutter ants don't serve a purpose in removing the leaves.  The plants usually don't die and they leaf back with new leaves.

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I totally agree with your last statement. Mother Nature's pruners at work. I've also noticed that the Queen gets bored with a certain diet and they pick on different species of plants to satisfy her cravings. LOL!

I used food grade diatomaceous earth (available on Amazon) across their paths. Safe for animals. Haven't had any in nearly four years. Knock on wood.

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52 minutes ago, rafterbr said:

As I understand it the Queen Ant of the cutter ant only eats the fungus off the leafs they gather so it is hard to kill her.  Also the nest may be a block or more away from where the cutter ants are working.  So the steam cleaner won't work but I have heard of them being gassed.  You run a hose from your car, lawnmower, etc to their hole and let it run a while.  If you kill enough of the worker ants, they will leave you alone for a while.  They are most active at night so I go out in the darkness and poison the active ants and their path.  

I also wonder since the plants don't shed their leaves like up north if the cutter ants don't serve a purpose in removing the leaves.  The plants usually don't die and they leaf back with new leaves.

Problem is unless you stop them they'll hit the plant again and again until it runs out of the energy to leaf out and it dies.  We learned that one the hard way from first ignoring the ants.  Now we look at our plants closely and when we see evidence of cutters we come out at night and find the nest and trail of ants and hit both with Hormigon.

 

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I've noticed that the ants don't touch some of our plants....agapanthus (South African Lily/Lily of the Nile);  aloe and succulents of all sizes; philodendron family. 

But they have decimated a lima (sweet lime) and a few large hibiscus.  They come back again and again for these.

Can anyone recommend some sort of citrus tree and a large flowering shrub that these critters don't like?  Or any trees/shrubs in your garden that the ants leave alone?

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2 hours ago, Mainecoons said:

Problem is unless you stop them they'll hit the plant again and again until it runs out of the energy to leaf out and it dies.  

Might have happened to your plants, but it's not some universal fact. The cutter ants completely stripped my jasmine, which is now 2 stories high, twice a year for many years, and it always leafed out again beautifully within a few days. For reasons umknown, they haven't touched it now for about 2 years.

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2 hours ago, Bisbee Gal said:

I've noticed that the ants don't touch some of our plants....agapanthus (South African Lily/Lily of the Nile);  aloe and succulents of all sizes; philodendron family. 

But they have decimated a lima (sweet lime) and a few large hibiscus.  They come back again and again for these.

Can anyone recommend some sort of citrus tree and a large flowering shrub that these critters don't like?  Or any trees/shrubs in your garden that the ants leave alone?

They haven't bothered my Penta shrubs or Lavender.

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On 3/18/2021 at 10:35 AM, rafterbr said:

As I understand it the Queen Ant of the cutter ant only eats the fungus off the leafs they gather so it is hard to kill her.  Also the nest may be a block or more away from where the cutter ants are working.  So the steam cleaner won't work but I have heard of them being gassed.  You run a hose from your car, lawnmower, etc to their hole and let it run a while.  If you kill enough of the worker ants, they will leave you alone for a while.  They are most active at night so I go out in the darkness and poison the active ants and their path.  

I also wonder since the plants don't shed their leaves like up north if the cutter ants don't serve a purpose in removing the leaves.  The plants usually don't die and they leaf back with new leaves.

That is how the Mexicans dealt with leaf cutters in the old days-forced a gas down their holes.

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On 3/18/2021 at 1:40 PM, mudgirl said:

Might have happened to your plants, but it's not some universal fact. The cutter ants completely stripped my jasmine, which is now 2 stories high, twice a year for many years, and it always leafed out again beautifully within a few days. For reasons umknown, they haven't touched it now for about 2 years.

Once or twice a year is fine. Four or five times a year can kill the plant. I don’t much care about universal facts but about what has happened in my garden. I have lived here 13 years and this past year has been the worst and is the first time I have lost plants to them.

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3 hours ago, Xena said:

Once or twice a year is fine. Four or five times a year can kill the plant. I don’t much care about universal facts but about what has happened in my garden. I have lived here 13 years and this past year has been the worst and is the first time I have lost plants to them.

I would think it also has to do with whether a plant is slow or fast growing- if a plant leafs out again right away, like my jasmine did, it will survive. If it takes longer to form new growth, there isn't enough greenery for photosynthesis and the plant would eventually die.

Those cutter ants do seem to really like certain plants and have no interest in others.

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3 hours ago, mudgirl said:

I would think it also has to do with whether a plant is slow or fast growing- if a plant leafs out again right away, like my jasmine did, it will survive. If it takes longer to form new growth, there isn't enough greenery for photosynthesis and the plant would eventually die.

Those cutter ants do seem to really like certain plants and have no interest in others.

My plants came back quickly until they didn’t. I had the same plants for five years and they did very well — until this year’s repeated stripping. Also this year the ants went after plants they had not ever touched in five years. Everything I had used to knock them back in previous years did little or nothing to stop them this year. It has been a very bad year for them. Glad your experience has been different.

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This is the first year that I haven't had any problem with cutter ants at all, anywhere. I can only assume that it has to do with me being diligent about putting those Trompa pellets around all of the nests I found last year. 

I never was all that distressed about them doing in some plant I could replace by going to the vivero (they did do in my gardenia years ago, although surprise, surprise, it came back from the root that was still in the ground, 2 years later).

What really upset me is that I grow a veggie garden and they chopped off my entire 2 rows of basil and kale one year. The plants were a few inches tall, looking lush and healthy, and one morning they were all just lying there dead on the ground. Those ants will often cut a plant one night, then come back to chew up the pieces and carry them away the next night. I suspect, like other ants, they have different job descriptions- so some cut, and others haul the cuttings back to the nest. Then there's probably another group that tends the fungus and yet another that feeds it to the queen. 

They may be really annoying, but they sure are fascinating.

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There is no remedy that works universally all the time to stop cutter ants.  Every remedy works for a while then no longer works.  Cutter ants target a plant one year then the next year one they haven`t touched for years.  They will not touch the orange tree in one yard but decimate the one next door. There are things you can do for specific trees like putting Joker Rojo around the bottom of the stem or trunk.  Ants stick to this and quickly learn they can`t go over it - until they learn to put a stem of grass across the goo.  Putting rice near an entrance to a new home will kill the ants for a while, then it won`t.  Otherwise you just learn to deal with losing a tree, a bush or half the plants in your yard.  Then you replace these with plants they don`t touch like cactus. In other words, you learn humility.  Of course, it`s always amusing to trade stories about the exploits of cutter ants, the lords of our land.

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45 minutes ago, bdmowers said:

In other words, you learn humility.  Of course, it`s always amusing to trade stories about the exploits of cutter ants, the lords of our land.

Yes, they are survivors- here long before us and will be here long after.

In Canada it was the deer. If you lived in the country, you either had to put a 9 foot fence around your garden, or plant things deer don't like to eat. On the west coast, I battled the slugs.

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