Ants on the move

July 10, 2008 | By | Comments (7)

By Kimberley Burch,  Sunset imaging specialist

…Moving in!!  Ack!
I am writing my first blog (all by myself, that is), because Margaret believes I am the only one who can describe the horrible disgust I felt yesterday morning.  It gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.

Arriving back at work from a long-weekend, I went to check on our bees. Margaret came with me and we chatted as I cleaned out the water dish and refilled the moat containers around the legs of the hive stand.

Just as I’m left alone so Margaret can get back to the non-bee part of her job, I get a good look at the ground around the hives.  I shriek at the sight of thousands of ants scurrying around with no apparent direction.  The ant nest, I assume, was already established underneath the hives and was disturbed by the flood of water when I filled the containers and water dish. Most of the ants are carrying eggs.  Ant eggs.  The ants are on the move and I fear they’re moving in with the bees!

I run back to my office, call Margaret to share the horror, run across the street to the convenient local market to buy mineral oil, grab my camera and run back to the hives.

I feel the ant population has doubled in the 20 minutes I was gone because they just seem to be everywhere.  I take the hose and flood the area around Betty and Veronica thinking that if at least a few hundred die this way, that would be a start.  If they somehow change their thinking that this is a great spot to build a colony now that it’s all flooded– fabulous!  I know I can’t spray any chemicals or insecticides for fear the bees will get it on themselves and bring it into the hives.  I squirt some mineral oil inside our moat containers and on the plastic where I see ants trying to get access to the hives.  The mineral oil is supposed to be harder for ants to cross than plain water.

As I do all of this, I am dancing.  I am picking up my feet, one at a time, in a slow still march.  I already know that if I leave my feet on the ground, I will have several ants crawling on my feet in no time.  I have already found ants with eggs on my legs and on my arms.  I found ants on my veil!  Eww eww eww eww EWW!!

Now some of you may think I’m over-reacting, some might think I’m a little girly being so grossed out by little ants (and maybe that’s a little true), but ants are my weakness.  Ants are the one common pest that I cannot stand.  I am still getting the willies when I think about the sight. 

The photo below shows a few square inches of the horror.  The ants covered around 15 square feet!


I feel fatigued, frustrated and frenzied from our fight with the ants.  I purchased more mineral oil and more Terro outdoor ant bait and put it out this morning.

Other than that, I’m not sure how we will win this fight.  Stay tuned.


  1. Tricia

    I just found your blog as I was searching for some info on some ants that I have. It sounds like we might have the same ants that you had. They are lightning fast and move in random directions. It seems like they attack anything that gets in their way, especially me – climbing up onto my shoes as soon as they get near the ants. They also bite! I’m trying to figure out what I can do to kill them, since I can’t work in my garden until I’ve gotten rid of them for fear I will turn into human any bait! Did you ever have any success?

    June 8, 2010 at 11:34 pm
  2. Arturo

    When I reach my limit of patience with ants, I squirt boric acid powder into the places where they come out of the ground or out of the walls. No more ants after some hours or days.

    August 17, 2008 at 8:51 pm
  3. Arturo

    When I reach my limit of patience with ants, I squirt boric acid powder into the places where they come out of the ground or out of the walls. No more ants after some hours or days.

    August 17, 2008 at 8:51 pm
  4. Kimberley

    Thanks for the suggestion, Teacher A!
    Tanglefoot was actually one of the first things we tried for ant control. Unfortunately, the bees got stuck in it more than the ants! The only thing that seems to keep the ants out of the hives is the water moats, but we’d really like to find something that keeps them from building their nests in the ground around the hives, too.

    July 21, 2008 at 6:39 pm
  5. Margaret Sloan

    Thanks for your suggestion. We’ve tried Tanglefoot, with disastrous results, as we used too much and the bees kept stumbling into it and dying. (You can read about the great Tanglefoot disaster in the Team Bee blogs.)

    But you’re right. A small amount would give us an added bit of security.

    July 21, 2008 at 5:18 pm
  6. Teacher A

    As a supplement to the water dishes, you could also wrap a strip of duct tape on the hive legs and then cover the tape in tanglefoot ( You need to make sure there aren’t any gaps in the tape, though. That worked pretty well when I was assisting with some behavioral research on bees.

    July 20, 2008 at 9:27 pm
  7. Just Me

    I was VERY DISAPPOINTED to get your magazine and then, after reading the articles on this oneblock stuff, and going to the website, particularly looking for info on what to plant in my neck of CA, there is a “check back soon” or some such message. NOT A NICE THing TO DO. Get with the program! Don’t be leading me on!!!!!

    July 20, 2008 at 6:21 am

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