Ants! OMG!!!!!!!!!!! HELP!

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Bluefirepegasus

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:mad::sob: OMG! I discovered when giving my baby orchids a sink watering today ants ALL OVER THEM! I also discovered ants around the window they were in and that they had made a hole in the window. So, :( I think they are in the walls!

We threw all the baby orchids away. Who knows if they were farming aphids or burrowing inside.

Any advice on how to deal with them would be great. We moved the other orchids in the area away from there and are setting out to get some ant traps. We are also spraying a home liquid spray that targets ants, spiders etc. all over the window, floor doors and wall where the area was. Actually, the entire hallway got doused.

Anyway, any advice would be great. I didn't want to throw those orchids away but at what price would I have paid to keep them? My whole collection? I couldn't risk it and believe me.....I boo-hood about it too. But what can you do?

Bluefirepegasus
 
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goldenrose

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First not overreact. Give the traps & spray a chance to work.
What kind of ants are these? They made a hole in the window?? They are in the walls?? If they are carpenter ants then you may not be overreacting & I would get rid off them. If they are the more common type ants, they found a way in, most of them find their way out especially if met with uninviting insecticides.

"We threw all the baby orchids away. Who knows if they were farming aphids or burrowing inside." WHAT! How many plants are you talking? First off ants would be attracted to any insect secreting honeydew, so it could be an indication of an insect problem starting you haven't detected. Ants would be PREDATORS for these insects! Unpot an orchid or 2 or 3, are there any eggs? Repot them or use a soil drench. Having a GH, I know it's easier for me to take a laid back approach. Every year, at some point, I water a plant & the next thing you know there are ants all over. Most of them don't like getting drenched every couple of days & they leave, nor do they like be disturbed by repotting a plant, again they leave. I have seen ants devouring mealybugs, so I'm not too quick to chase them away.
 
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Bolero

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Yeah if they are normal ants I wouldn't have thrown them away (carpenter ants wouldn't normally inhabit orchids would they?).

Listen to goldenrose, I hope you didn't throw away healthy orchids. Ants in themselves don't do much and yes I know they carry around pests. But treating is usually the first step before throwing them away. I find ants all the time and quickly get rid of them.
 

likespaphs

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not to be rude or crass but didn't you check them for insects before tossing them? well, insects other than ants.... (okay, that part was a bit snide, but...)
if they're carpenter ants, they won't eat the orchids but do you have bark as your potting media?
for several years i have been successfully using boric acid gels. unless they're carpenter ants, the ants i encounter are typically fat or sugar eating ants and i have boric acid formulas for each. i put a little bit of each gel out, find out which one they prefer, then apply it as directed. takes a day or two but they take it back to the nest, everyone, including the queen eats it and eventually everyone dies.
once the ants are gone, it is easier to treat for insects. if you use beneficial insects (which i can tell you're not because of the spray listed), you gotta get rid of the ants first as the ants protect their farmed bugs (scale, aphids).

... Ants would be PREDATORS for these insects! ...I have seen ants devouring mealybugs, so I'm not too quick to chase them away.
i thought you had said predator instead of farmer. in my experience, ants will 'farm' aphids and scale buy taking them from plant to plant, even overwintering them underground. but it seems you did mean eat 'em. wish i had a few of those types of ants...
 

NYEric

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Oh my god! Are they stinging or jumping jack ants?!? Seems like a bit of over-reaction. All you had to do was take the plants outside and if the ants are nesting in the media, wash them off and repot. Hopefully they aren't just coming in through the hole they made in the window, because then you haven't stopped the problem. And about filling the house w/ pesticides?!?!...
 

tocarmar

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I would say just a small over-reaction.( Oh O.K. a Large 1)LOL. See if you still can save some of the baby orchids. Unless it gets below 50-60deg. Than it is useless to try & save any.
I use a product called Predator Max, it works really good. It kills around 100 different insects, spiders, ants, centipedes & can last up to 6 months. I spray it in the house, around the outside walls, door frames inside & outside,ect.

Tom
 
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Bluefirepegasus

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I live in alabama......capitol of fire ant headquarters.....they found and or made a hole through the caulking underneath one of the windows in my brand new house. I should have mentioned I lived in alabama and that they were fire ants. I am sorry for not being more informative.

When I mentioned they were all over......they were swarming. Fire ants.....if you have ever run across them and gotten bitten several times....they leave whelps that itch for weeks. I once had one that itched for an entire month and swelled up to the size of a lima bean.

Damn things are also wicked smart. Once they find a way in, a water source and some bugs.....the party is started and you aren't invited.

I think that was the reason I freaked out. I have been swarmed before....not pretty.

But you see....I don't have a greenhouse. I have a dog and bunnies so I can't use anything really harsh. An indoor spray occasionally and the traps were my idea. They seemed to have stopped but who knows. I couldn't touch the plants without getting bitten all over. They were all over my arms and fingers and biting. Plus, the window they were under.....is right by my husband and I's bedroom. I didn't know what else to do. What can I say. :(

Bluefirepegasus
 
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likespaphs

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oh.... you didn't say fire ants. they don't know how to play nice....
 

NYEric

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Ah, so they are "stinging ants". I would probably make the same advice, and add to seal the entryway they made into the house. BTW jumping jack ants are only in Australia so that part was a joke.
 
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goldenrose

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I live in alabama......capitol of fire ant headquarters.....

welts that itch for weeks. I once had one that itched for an entire month and swelled up to the size of a lima bean.
Bluefirepegasus
It makes things easier if everyone would give a location on your user info.

Ever heard of lavender essential oil? works great on stings, bites & burns, just to name a few!
 

TheLorax

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I really wish you were in a position to post a good macro photo of the ants. I'm going to take a guess you have Solenopsis wagneri plaguing you because you stated you are in Alabama.

Bait traps can be non-discriminatory in this particular situation and use of same could actually backfire on you. Barring that, baits are a pesticide and would only provide temporary relief on your property anyway. You really might want to consider checking into parasitic flies. Me personally, I'd nuke those horribly invasive exotic fire ants (Solenopsis wagneri syn. S. invicta) with Phorid flies. By now, you can probably contact your local extension office to ask where you might be able to purchase Phorid flies for release on your property.

It will only take a few minutes to read what is at the site posted below and please note what is stated about non-discriminatory pesticides being "thought to have helped spread fire ants even faster by wiping out pockets of native ant resistance to the RIFA invasion. It also produced a toxic and persistent byproduct, dioxin, which accumulated in ecological systems”
http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~gilbert/research/fireants/faqans.html#chemical

Hopefully after reading the above you have a big fat smile on your face because hope is on the horizon. I whole heartedly believe Phorid flies may ultimately be our salvation in fighting off these fire ants or at least reducing their numbers to that which would be manageable. Fight fire with fire. No chemicals involved in the process. Phorid flies would pose absolutely no harm to your dog or your bunnies or to you or your husband.

Isn’t Pseudacteon tricuspis a wonderful little parasitic fly? I think in time many folk down south will be singing praise of the Pseudacteon tricuspis. It is already being introduced in the US. There's another even more promising biological control on the horizon which I personally think is pretty wild and has the greatest potential in the long run to help control and manage these imported fire ants. For some really exciting reading, do a search of Strepsiptera. I think they're working with it at Oxford so toss that word in your search engine too. Pretty wild reading but basically the male Strepsiptera works its way into the host which would be the fire ant and encapsulates itself which renders the fire ant sterile. What a pity. Shall I pass around a hanky to dab our tears?

Somebody at Texas A & M had a phenomenal sense of humor when he wrote this, "Do I care? No," Johnston said. "Once they're parasitized, they're sterile anyway...they're out of the picture," he said. "In fact, I'd love for the parasite to extend the life span because those drones are a drain on the colony. If drones, or fire ant males, would stay in the colony and suck up nutrients for another two years, it would be wonderful. It's the same thing with the workers: once they're parasitized, they don't sting, they don't contribute, they just drain the colony."

And here's a link to the wonderful little parasitic fly previously mentioned-
http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/ent/biocontrol/parasitoids/pseudacteon.html
They (Pseudacteon tricuspis) are going to take time to colonize to afford relief. Biological controls aren't normally quick fixes.

Phorid flies, hopefully coming to a neighborhood near you soon-
http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-161077172.html
 
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Bluefirepegasus

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:D wow! How did I not know about those little guys earlier!? Oh Lorax! Thanks!

:) I know I freaked out a bit....sorry about that guys. My collection is really small right now so if I loose some I loose a lot. I just now got the money to buy a nice big specimen plant and a species plant that I am going to use for breeding in the far future. I want to be a grower. (Oh geese....please no one say anything to me about that. I promise I am not completely dumb. I am sure some of you are totally rolling your eyes at the idea of me being a big grower but it is a dream of mine. :p )

Bluefirepegasus
 

TheLorax

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Not that it matters but I'm probably on the same level with you experience-wise growing tropical orchids. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Without our dreams what are we?
 
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Bluefirepegasus

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:eek: Thanks! Most of the infested orchids were rescues from Lowes and home depot. I usually don't have enough money to buy the really good ones.

What was sad though was the loss of a great looking green cross and a nice looking orange cross. It would have been a long time before they bloomed but still. So, now I just have to start over.

Haven't seen any fire ants recently. Stupid devils! :evil:

Gah! If you live in the south and are in fire ant territory beware! They came unexpectedly for me!

Bluefirepegasus

Thanks for the advice and support.
 
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Bluefirepegasus

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Man...don't all orchid enthusiasts wish we had loads of money to buy awesome orchids with? :)

If anyone does flask anything green or orange I might be interested.....if something crazy happens and i actually have moolah that is!

Bluefirepegasus
 
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Mrs. Paph

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:poke: You're making my little collection of ants look good - They hitched a ride in on an Lc. I had outside for the summer. I told someone at work that, and they Flipped, since there's fireants here too. I haven't been bitten by a fireant here yet, but I'm not crazy, I knew I hadn't brought in fireants :rollhappy: Lucky for me I knew they were just little sugarants from the orchid sitting under my dripping hummingbird feeder! I tend to squish them if one happens to be out in an easily squished area, but they don't seem to be causing any harm or multiplying, so I haven't put out traps yet. I think if they were fireants the Lc. would have had to stay outside! I hope you have all of them out of your house now!
 
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Bluefirepegasus

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Wonderful news to report. Since we sprayed and put traps out no sign of the fire ants at all! whew! That was a close one! I also removed all the plants out of that area and vacummed the heck out of the carpet underneath the window. my husband and I are sealing the holes in the caulking off. Man.....it was pretty scary. But, I think we got them all and the rest are safe! Just to be cautious I layed a few traps amongst the orchids I have had to put on the floor because of the lack of shelving in my house.

Sugar ants huh? Wow....be careful! I am sure they don't bite but hopefully they won't invite the whole colony over for a party at your place!

Bluefirepegasus
 
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