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Ant problem in my kitchen!

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Posted by Heather on 19:20:37 8/14/2010 from

Thank you for your wonderful site...this is lonnnggg, so please bear with me...

We have had an ongoing ant problem for two years now.

As some background, we live backing onto EPA land. Meaning no END of trees, bugs, and critters that we deal with.

August of last year, we found a sudden invasion of ants in our kitchen. We hired an exeterminator and he identified the food source as the dishwasher edges, the sink, and the garburator. The exterminator found a nest in the basement cold room, treated it, and sprayed the exterior and the ant problem was solved. For 2 days. They recurred, so the exterminator dusted inside the plumbing areas, and the problem was solved.

This year we are fighting the ants again. We had the house foundation area sprayed in April and July. In August, we found a huge number of ants outside all of a sudden. We tracked them up the house into the soffit area and down the house into a hole in the foundation area. Also we found them all over the back deck. We cleared all foliage away from touching the deck. We called our exterminator (they have a 90 day warranty so no charge), and he confirmed the nests in the soffit and the foundation by using an irritant spray (boy did they RUN!), powdered them, did an exterior check and spray, and an interior check which turned up nothing. No problem with the ants. Until two weeks later when we noted a definite ant trail going from the fireplace area (gas fireplace) to the dining room hutch (?) and back. We of course freaked out, opened up the fireplace and found the little guys hiding under the wood surrond but nowheres near the wall or the exterior exhaust outlet. No sign of them ouside on the siding or the foundation wall, either. The exterminator came back. He couldn't find any exterior source for these ants but redusted the old nest areas and resprayed. He also used a substance to see if they were under the siding, and nothing was found (the spray that irritates them, so they run out of a nest? All clear.) So he did an exterior spray again, dusted inside the fireplace, inside our exterior hot tub, and sprayed the deck, too. All was going well. For about 48 hours. Then they returned, to the same spot. My husband and I found the food source -- our 18 year old styrofoam-covered in fondant and icing sugar flowers wedding cake topper! We noticed that they were going under the gas fireplace stone base and the hardwood floor, meaning they could be tracking anywheres. No activity along the wall or at the fireplace exhaust area. Nothing. Just vanishing under the hardwood floor. We eliminated their food source, vacuumed up the rogues for the next few days, and were ant free. For 4 days.

Now these little buggers are back, and are in the kitchen. We have no idea where the nest is. We have no moisture problems that we are aware of -- the kitchen is above a walkout basement that is block construction with no evidence of moisture and a recent 2 year old complete renovation that revealed no problems and was inspected. There are no plumbing leaks that we are aware of. The kitchen is one floor above grade and there is a second story above this, too and the attic is above THAT. No evidence of ants on the top floor.
These ants seem to be foraging based on their movement patterns. We took a no holds barred approach to our kitchen, cleaned every cupboard to find NO evidence of ants anywheres. Nothing under the sink. Nothing in the dishwasher. We sealed ALL foods in zip lock bags and all produce is in the fridge. We vacuumed the toaster, no ants at all. The ONLY place we see ants are on the floor in the middle between the island and the window area. There is spray foam insulation around the windows and I caulked the area myself. Due to the nature of the trim we can't remove it. There is no sign of ants on the exterior of the house in that area, either, and the exterior was sprayed in any event last week.
During this kitchen outbreak, we killed around two dozen of the little bugger at one time, and now are down to 2 or 3 every half hour when we do our ant patrol in the kItchen. They are wandering around the top of the cabinet doors (not going in), on the wall, and on the floor between the window and the kitchen island. We eliminate them as we see them after watching them, but they don't seem to be going anywheres, just doodling around back and forth. I can't identify a food source, I haven't seen any pop out of a wall crack or from under a cupboard. All the cupboards are clear and clean. All food items are in ziplock bags.

I am worried that we have a nest inside a wall somewheres and we just don't know where and that the little buggers won't take the hint and leave.

I have dusted the crap out of the crevaces with boric acid. I don't use Raid. I have watched these buggers but they just randomly doodle around the floor without an intended direction. We will call the exterminator again, but he is at a loss as to where these guys are.

Are we on the right path? We don't have any idea where these guys are coming from! Not the fireplace area -- that room is clean. We thought the fireplace wall, but everything is fine there. Now in the kitchen! But there is no evidence of anything in any cupboard! If we used the rule of thumb with respect to ants and nest location, they would be in the dining room wall, the front entry wall, and the kitchen wall as this is where we have found small concentrations of them SEQUENTIALLY, not at the same time. I don't think that they are in all three locations, and getting under the siding and spraying the irritant has been fruitless in identifying a source. We haven't found any frass. There is nothing in the basement pantry that isn't in a tin or glass -- everything else is in the fridge!

Is there anything that I am missing here? I fear the only step is to drill and dust, which I would rather not do, or to pesticide the interior of the house, which I would rather not do. But I'm afraid we are out of options. Or is this a case of suck it up, you just have ants...I am at a loss and I really really dislike having ants in my house....

Thanks SO much for listening!

Heather from Ontario, Canada

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