Thursday, September 27, 2007

Exploiting the ant algorithms

You can make use of the ants behavior to help get rid of them, or even use them to help you in productive ways.

As the insect terminators would say, we live in an ant hill. The entire neighborhood sits on hills, with large amount of steep, unbuildable spaces around houses that you don't have access. Even if you get rid of all ants around your property, if your yard is in any way still inhabitable for the ants after the chemicals subside, they will certainly come back. There's an unlimited supply of them.

At first I used to spray all around the house and yard with chemical spray that is attached to the hose, suitable for lawns and plants. It's effective but it doesn't last. Also it's also difficult to isolate yourself from the insecticides. You breath the water vapors with chemicals in it, the vapor blow back by the wind all over you. Then we call in the terminators. It's not any better, because they recommend to spray for you every three month standard. It's not termination. In out area, the standard won't work. Some recommend to spray every other month, using expensive but safer chemicals.

Basically it's a waster of money. When I don't see the ants eye to eye, they don't bother me. Not that they destroy anything significant. When there are two many of them coming to attack everything, I can just spray around. Just 10 min's of work, using a whole bottle of lawn insecticide. And then I went for a decontamination shower.

But I didn't do it anymore. I observed that the ant algorithms are very simple:
* ants only live in hidden dry areas
* ants need water and food
* ants travel in the shortest paths

My new strategy is draw them out, find the colony and kill them all. You don't really need to draw them out. After intense heat wave, they will go out in search of water. After heavy rain, they will move their flooded colony to a new dryer place. When I want to draw them out when I want, I would flood the boundary of the yard or any possible dry spots around the house. Also, dog food pellets are the best bait, never fails, while the ant baits with poisons in hardware stores never work.

Once the ants need to go out, they are very much exposed. They like to travel on flat surfaces without obstacles, even if they are exposed out in the open, under intense heat and sunlight. They don't like to travel across plants or soil, which are obstacle courses compared to flat stones or concrete. So if you fill any gaps in your stone or concrete pathway with paving sand for example, the ants will certainly march along the surface of the pathway.

Other favorite places where ants like to travel are fences, the outdoor damp prove course several inches above base level of the house.

Ants are easy to find in these areas in plain sight. They just don't like to hide under grass or ground cover. Follow the line and you know where their colonies are.

To kill them I use a hand operated spray, with chemicals that can be used on fruits. It doesn't take much spray to flood their colony with insecticides. And if you like, you can spray on the whole line of ants sometimes a 100 feet long, often made up of most of the colony.

The ants come because there's some food. It's time to harvest the fruits before the ants. Or your sprinklers do not cover all the lawn, with some dry spots. Or you have some cracks outside the house, allowing the ants to get in for a cool dry shelter. Without ants, these spots are hard to find. Ants are just so useful!

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